Monday, February 20, 2012

Bowie Restaurant Project: (44) Uno Express

For an explanation of the Bowie Restaurant Project, look here.

For a list of all the Bowie Restaurant Project reviews, look here.

Uno Express, 16520 Ball Park Road
Most Recent Foursquare Check-in: 02/15/2012
Total Foursquare Check-ins: 1
Pre-Foursquare Visits: No
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

Yes, there is seating.
The City of Bowie Restaurant Guide lists this one as "BJ's Express (inside BJ's Wholesale Club). I was skeptical whether it would count as an actual restaurant, but it checked all the boxes for another in the "barely a restaurant" series. It has enough food to serve you a meal, and it has seating.

First, the food. It offers pizza, chicken tenders and hot dogs. Since it has the Uno branding on it, I though the pizza would be the best choice. Unfortunately, the pizza bears little resemblance to what you might get at Uno Chicago Grill. Uno's isn't the best pizza in the world, but it's distinctive, and it's better than whatever they're serving here. I can't imagine the chicken tenders or hot dogs would be worthwhile.

Probably the best thing about here was the pricing. A bottled Coke was $1.39, which is ridiculous in some sense, but less than you'd pay at the supermarket or 7-11 if you wanted just one cold one. A "slice" of pizza is $1.99, but it's a quarter of the pizza, and they actually cut it into two slices.

The woman who took my order was pleasant enough.

Although BJ's is a membership club, you don't need a membership to eat at the Uno Express. I cannot imagine why a non-member would want to unless he had some crazy project to eat at every restaurant in Bowie. As a non-member, you can print a one-day pass to allow yourself to shop there (but pay a 15% premium). I did so, but it turned out not to be necessary. All in all, eating at BJ's is less depressing that eating in Wal-Mart, but at least there you have a standard-quality Subway. If you're at BJ's, there aren't a ton of options in the area, but I would recommend heading over to Rip's. One star, then. It's not awful-awful, but definitely bottom of the barrel.

Bowie Restaurant Update

Since I realized that I was better at keeping a restaurant list than the City of Bowie, I no longer depend on them for a definitive record of Bowie restaurants. So now I'm looking for restaurants they've missed. I think I've found one -- the 19th Hole Bar & Grill at the Bowie Golf & Country Club seems to qualify. Even though they call themselves a "glorified snack bar," it's more of a restaurant than many places. It serves a variety of foods, including breakfast, and it has a full bar. So that bumps my list up to 80.

I was considering an entire post about something weird I noticed -- only 3 restaurants disappeared between the 2011 and 2012 edition of the restaurant guide. Depending on how you count things, that could be as high as a 4% failure rate, but that seems incredibly low for the restaurant business. After some research, however, I think I've identified the causes.
  • Restaurant failure rates aren't as high as people say they are.
  • Failure rates are highest with new restaurants, and Bowie doesn't have a lot of new restaurants.
  • The local economy is not booming (which is probably why not many new restaurants are opening), but it's doing well enough to keep the existing restaurants in business.
  • The lack of new restaurants means that the stock of existing restaurants isn't getting much competition.
One of the three restaurants that disappeared was the Seattle's Best inside Borders -- it didn't fail on its own terms, it failed because it was inside a bankrupt book store. Another was Panda Express, which is being replaced by Asian Chao in the food court. The third is the KFC at Bowie Plaza. None of these seem like great losses, but I don't think there's an underlying theme to tie them together.

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