Fast casual

Newly opened Quick N Slick trades quality for quantity

By Paula Johnson

Photo: The Quick N Slick hot dog

You might think of the latest in culinary trends as foods which are locally sourced, and inventively prepared meals focusing on organically raised vegetables and meats. And the continued popularity of the “slow food” movement, encouraging people to center their lives around the joys of making and eating food using centuries old traditions of gastronomy and food production. But that’s where you’d be so last year. Because the opening this week of Quick N Slick near the Dayton Mall blows all that time-consuming meal preparation and lengthy restaurant dining out of the water. Truly, there’s no reason to eat anywhere else, or certainly to think of cooking at home again.

The dual strategies of “make it fast” and “make it familiar” are what Gordon (Gordo to his friends) Culo centered the Quick N Slick concept on. He cites the latest study from restaurant market research firm E. Tyour Assov, concluding time is the most important thing to the dining public, followed closely by food tastes and flavor profiles that don’t surprise.

Culo looked around and saw the American public waiting in long lines at national chain restaurants to eat food they had already eaten before. “I decided to try to design a restaurant which would speed that experience up,” he explained. “If I did it right, I could serve three times as many people as the busiest local chains by cutting the average dining time by more than half. I realized my love of NASCAR would make the perfect theme for my idea of faster food. I like to call it “gastr-auto-my”!

Very clever, indeed.

Quick N Slick serves food that has all the familiar tastes the public is used to by sourcing food from chemical companies instead of farms. And instead of chefs, Quick N Slick uses food scientists. “We know by using additives and certain flavorings the food product will become addictive after only one or two visits to our restaurants,” Culo explained proudly. “So we once we capture the customer, they have to keep coming back!”

Fast food station

So what is a visit to Quick N Slick really like? Think of a pit stop during an auto race. Think pit crew instead of servers. Think drills to mix shakes and drinks. But the experience begins even before you arrive, with the use of the QNS iPhone app. When you are en route, simply punch in your ETA and Quick N Slick will text you your parking space reservation number. (You can drop in and dine but, to optimize your time, it’s advised to reserve with the app.)

PIP (Palate In Progress) and I found our parking space easily with the aid of flaggers in racing suits, who rushed us to the front door as soon as we exited the car. A stopwatch grasped by the hostess began ticking as soon as we crossed the threshold into the busy dining area. She led us briskly to a booth with a tabletop timer and instructed us to buckle in. The booths, arranged in a circular fashion, radiate outward on tracks from a central kitchen hub. Headsets were donned as we looked above us at the menu board featuring three dining options. Seconds continued to tick off as we perused, reminding us to be decisive in choosing.

What are the choices? It hardly matters, since the idea that Food = Fuel is the central theme of Quick N Slick. So whether you go with the burger, the hot dog or the taco, you can rest assured they are all made with the same ingredients. And each comes with Quick N Slick’s famous double-fried, seasoned, dusted, coating-kissed fries. And a side of ketchonaise, a new industry condiment Culo developed which needs no refrigeration. Ever.

Assembly line ambience

Almost as soon as we spoke our orders into the headsets, our booth was rapidly conveyed to the central kitchen hub area. No wonder our hostess insisted we buckle in before she would leave! Almost instantly our table was loaded with the food we ordered, though devoid of toppings and condiments. Before I had the chance to balk at this, we were zoomed back to the booth’s original location, and a drop-down rack with nozzles and tubes clattered to an abrupt stop just over our heads.

A pit crew of jumpsuited servers swarmed our booth, sliding drinks, napkins and silverware down the length of the table. Several reached above us for the condiment and flavoring guns, and rapidly began squirting the appropriate toppings on our selections. Since Quick N Slick doesn’t use fresh produce, flavorings such as onion, lettuce and tomato are injected directly into the chosen protein. “Not using vegetables really saves us a lot of money so we can pass the cost savings on to our diners!” Culo proudly announced. Nozzles replaced, the rack above us disappeared, and it was time to begin eating.

The last lap

We tore into our burgers and fries with the ticking stopwatch acting as a metronome for mastication. Seconds were ticking by, and we sensed the pit crew gathering, spray bottles and rags in hand, to turn the table for the next group of diners. I was gratified to find, despite the lack of real vegetables, I could sense the underlying flavor of tomato and onion. And though I am not sure what the actual substance was, I could swear I was munching on a crunchy pickle! Bravo, Quick N Slick! PIP and I were sold and couldn’t wait to return. We settled our check (dinner for two, including drinks, came to $12 – you can’t afford NOT to eat there!) and were ushered through the swinging doors with a wave of the checkered flag. Quick N Slick wins the taste race!

Reach DCP freelance writer Paula Johnson at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.

 

Editor’s note: This piece originally appeared in the Dec. 30, 2014 “Year In Preview” special satire/humor issue of the Dayton City Paper.

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Paula Johnson
Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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