This is March.
We may not have an NCAA Tournament, but after last year's Fast Food/Fast Casual Bracket, I figured we'd do the same for Sit-Down Chain Restaurants. You can vote right below and then take a look at my breakdown of the regions...
When you think sit-down chain restaurants, you think 1-seed Chili's. Even if you don't love the food, you can't deny it is the poster boy for the industry. It's traditional, has an expansive menu and beloved by many. It is the favorite to win this region in my opinion with 3-seed Red Lobster and 2-seed P.F. Chang's close behind. Will the cheddar biscuits carry the Lobster to the Final Four? There is an outside chance! As someone from Austin, TX (I know, my life is confusing, I lived there from 2004 through when I moved to New York City after college) it is tough for me to not bring 7-seed Chuy's all the way to the Final Four. I see the pizza buffet chain 9-seed Cicis winning in round one along with MidWest wings chain (it's delicious) 13-seed Quaker Steak & Lube upsetting the massive (with tons of beer) 4-seed Yardhouse.
My Pick: 7-seed Chuy's (that's the Austin in me)
My Prediction: 1-seed Chili's
Round One Upset Pick: 9-seed Cicis, 13-seed Quaker Steak & Lube
I don't see many first-round upsets here but I do think 11-seed Red Robin has a chance to make a deep run in this tournament. Unlimited fries? Amazing. Or, if you're like Steven Cheah, unlimited broccoli?
One of the best sit-down chains period is 7-seed Cheddars and I have them advancing to the Final Four as my pick, but my prediction lies with 2-seed Olive Garden. No matter your take on chain restaurant Italian food, those breadsticks will be hard to beat. Also, please vote for 13-seed Bucca di Beppo solely because of their advertising material…
While 1-seed Capital Grille might be the favorite, I think the fanciness is going to do it in.
My Pick: 7-seed Cheddars
My Prediction: 2-seed Olive Garden
Round One Upset Pick: 11-seed Red Robin
The Large Menu Boys have arrived in 1-seed Cheesecake Factory but this is a stacked region. I think the betting odds here would favor 2-seed Outback Steakhouse, my favorite place in the entire tournament. You have to give 4-seed Benihana some love as well, because who the hell doesn't love hibachi? There are also some regional favorites here in 12-seed Pluckers and 10-seed Primanti Brothers. Neither can be overlooked and I actually predict both will move on to the second round. This region is dynamite from top to bottom.
My Pick: 2-seed Outback Steakhouse
My Prediction: 2-seed Outback Steakhouse
Round One Upset Pick: 12-seed Pluckers, 10-seed Primanti Brothers
Last but not least, we go to a region with a heavyweight at both of the top seeds: 1-seed Texas Roadhouse and 2-seed Waffle House. One has incredible rolls and even better butter and the other has as big of a cult following as any restaurant in the country. My favorite spot in this region is 4-seed Bonefish Grill (shoutout to the Bang Bang Shrimp). I have some nostalgia for 13-seed Friendly's, but it stands little chance in this bracket. Any Cinderella possibility likely lands in the hands of 7-seed Wingstop.
My Pick: 4-seed Bonefish Grill
My Prediction: 2-seed Waffle House
Round One Upset Pick: None
Voting will stay open for a day or two and you can also click this link (VOTE HERE) to give your input.
What's your favorite spot? What chain is your favorite to pull an upset or win the whole thing? Let us know…