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“Chef Kevin”
Views and opinions about food
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Kevin Yee

Chef Chat: Reader Feedback

Questions, Comments and Corrections

Since many of you have great questions and observations of interest to everyone, this regularly updated section tries to address your restaurant concerns.

Feedback for 6/27/01:

Dear Kevin,

I enjoy reading your articles on MousePlanet. My husband and I are annual passholders and delight in taking our 2- year- old daughter, whose first trip there was when she was 6 weeks old!

Rancho del Zocalo
Rancho del Zocalo

I've just read your review on Rancho del Zocalo and I must agree. My husband and I visited the restaurant for the first time last Sunday and we were disappointed in the food. Being vegetarians, we went with the tostada. I don't know what change they made since the restaurant was Casa Mexicana, but some of the flavor has definitely been lost.

I was actually looking forward to the barbecue plate. At the Big Thunder Barbecue, they had a veggie barbecue plate that used a grilled Portobello mushroom instead of meat along with all the sides. They've completely discontinued this now -- boooo! I've written an e-mail to Disneyland in hopes of having it re-established, but I'm sure it will just go in a pile. Maybe a mention for our vegetarian friends in one of your columns will get them riled up enough to write in and make a change?

Hope to see you some time at Disneyland. We'll be the ones with the daughter who won't get off the Carousel.

Kind regards,

Jamie O

Dear Jamie:

As requested, here's your letter in "print" - perhaps they will take note that people miss the veggie offering. Frankly, I was surprised too (though I'm not a vegetarian). There needs to be more offerings for vegetarians and vegans, not less.

Hi Kevin,

I was ready to say how sad it is that I read your May 17 column on Mike Berry leaving Disney. Now, after reading all the things that Michael Eisner, Paul Pressler and others are doing to Disney, I think that leaving is the best thing Mr. Berry did.

Anyway, do you have any more information on exactly what he did to enhance the pleasure of eating at the park's restaurants?


Dear Cal:

Mike did a tremendous amount for Foods. First and probably most importantly, he brought a good deal of morale to the locations. As far as I remember, he was the first person to take absolute responsibility for foods parkwide. Before him, area managers would take their own areas only, so there isn't much comparison to earlier managers. 

But Mike was instantly available, and he was very accessible. He'd wander to all the locations on a regular basis, and allow the rank- and- file workers to voice their concerns.

And he listened! Their suggestions were often implemented, and each location became better in many small (usually operational) improvements. I guess we could consider him as a device to cut through red tape.


In your Beer Adventure article for MousePlanet, you make the statement that Six Flags Magic Mountain offers alcoholic drinks.

It is true that they did sell liquor at three restaurants in park when it first opened back in the early '70s. That all changed around 10 years later when the park was sold. They gave up their liquor licenses and never sold alcoholic drinks in the park again.

Please also note, they only had location- based liquor licenses and not the park- wide beer liquor license that DCA enjoys.

You will find that greater number of parks in the U.S. no longer sell any liquor because of the high liability factor. In the parks that do sell liquor, the prices are kept high to discourage drunkenness.

Dear Reader:

Mea Culpa. I twisted the parks up in my mind. Indeed, Universal is the one that now sells beer, not Magic Mountain.

High prices for liquor is also motivated by a desire for high profit margins, and a somewhat captive audience I suspect. :)

Hey Kevin,

Just read the column about the alcohol in DCA. I have to say, if you can get 24 ounces of beer in California for $4.29, jump on it. Here in Denver, if you go to a bar, a 12-ounce Budweiser costs you $3, a 12-ounce Corona runs $3.75, and any microbrew, also served in those 12-ounce bottles, costs $4.25 easy. Don't even get me started on how much it costs to down a beer at a Broncos, Avalanche, or Rockies game; I think the cheapest I've seen is 16 ounces for $5.

Pacific Wharf Distribution Company truck
Pacific Wharf Distribution Company truck

Since I would tend to compare prices of beer at a sporting event to those at a theme park -- they've got you trapped either way, it's not like you can run down to the corner store and bring a six of Bud back in with you -- I think 24 ounces of a microbrew for $4.29 is a great deal.


Dear Hollyann:

You may have a point. I got a few e-mail messages like this, including one taking me to task for complaining about the microbrew prices while allowing the Avalon beer prices, when in fact they are almost the same. In that particular instance, though, I stand by the Avalon beer being worth it - you get a bar atmosphere, a real glass, and a chair... compared with the plastic take-out cup from the ODV location.

Hey Kevin...

Love your columns on MousePlanet... As a food server in another high- priced vacation destination (New York City), I just wanted to comment on the tap water situation.

While it is never appropriate in the hospitality industry to execute a guest's request with "clear distaste," people have to be aware that bars and restaurants are in the business of selling food and beverage, not giving away food and beverage. It is especially galling for someone to go into an establishment that that only sells beverages and make this request. Another classic is the guest who sits at a table taking up space, doesn't order anything and then asks for a slice of lemon for their complimentary water.

Dear Reader:

I can certainly see the complaint about such guests as you describe, but the Uva bar situation was different; this was a guest whose party bought a lot, but she didn't want to drink.

I would argue that a bar or restaurant with long- term thinking would be happy to serve water with a meal, or with a party that is otherwise drinking -- let's not forget designated drivers.

Hi Kevin,

I just read your Avalon Cove at DCA article and must agree. It certainly is worth a visit despite freaky prices. Who would have thought that a bowl of chowder and pasta would run you up to $30? Nevertheless, it seems to be a fun place to go if you have an extra wad of cash to blow.

Avalon Cove in California Adventure

I must add to your comment on why this joint isn't as hip as it was expected to be. First things first: DCA isn't attracting crowds. It would if the park at least opened with maybe 35 attractions instead of an astonishingly low 24 (though I don't consider Midway games an attraction). I think people would be more likely to spend a few extra bucks on a good meal if the park was worth it. Epcot is a huge park with lots to explore, and people think that the food is worth exploring as well. Not at DCA. Who would consciously spend $30 per person a meal if they're going to spew it out on one of those carnival- type attractions?

Second, people coming to a theme park for the first time aren't going to focus on where they want to eat, unless they hear that one was just not to be missed. They try to do all the rides they possibly can, and when they finish around 5 p.m., they venture off and explore Downtown Disney. Annual passholders and other locals are the real key to the park's success. You're not going to find a tourist lounging at the bar with a beer after he paid $43 admission. I usually go back to the park with a few friends just to try out the restaurant and hang out, not caring about going on any rides. But since DCA isn't incredibly worth returning to over and over, locals are reluctant to even try the place once!

Perhaps if the prices were cut just $2 or so... I'm sure it might help a little. Oh and a dozen more attractions wouldn't hurt either.



Dear David:

Pretty much everything you're saying here is right on the money. The trouble is, if the success of DCA rests with locals, it may have a rough time ahead - the park was designed and themed to appeal to tourists, not locals.

That's one of the intractable problems with the core DCA theme that we at MousePlanet have been pointing out since the expansion was announced.


The next- to- last paragraph in your beer story clearly makes a masterful point about Walt and what guests have always perceived about Disneyland, and how "Disney" guests maybe perceive DCA as not really a Disney park. All subtle stuff that just goes in your eye almost without notice. But leaves an aftertaste hours later... Leaves one with sort of a future avoidance syndrome, I think.

I know I was saddened to see crummy umbrellas, aluminum kegs, and a utilitarian beer truck rather than the cute beer kiosk that I see at Universal parks. The beer is a savior for me in the summer when I'm escorting visiting family, and the Sundown Martini at Pucks is honest in proof and at typical Las Vegas prices.

Dear Reader:

Universal does indeed manage to get many things right at their theme parks -- I'm on record as believing that Islands of Adventure is a clear rival to any Disney theme park. And DCA does, I agree, lack many of the subtle details that make good theme parks imprint themselves -- subconsciously -- into the visitors' minds.

DCA is the first park designed fully under the Accountanteers (previous ones had suffered fewer budget cuts, or at least had better design decisions from the beginning), and it makes me worry about the future of the Disney park empire.

Hong Kong had better watch out.


I welcome your questions and comments, but keep in mind that all questions submitted to the Chef Kevin column become property of this website. They may be edited for length or style and in consideration of a family readership. Questions may also be quoted on other parts of the site too.

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