The irresistible tug of the familiar

I’m not much of a shopper, so I’m probably the last person who should be writing about what kind of retail we need in the Coachella Valley. But the long-awaited opening of Red Lobster restaurant has sparked a healthy debate about what major chains residents would like to see here.
Suggestions are rolling in through letters to the editor and on the mydesert.com Facebook page.
 The leading nominee: Nordstrom.
I’ve always liked the Seattle-based department store, renowned for its over-the-top customer service. My oldest daughter manages the women’s shoe department at the Nordstrom in San Francisco, so obviously I’m a fan.
 I once played piano at the Riverside store for about 30 minutes before a clerk suggested I stop. Everyone’s a critic. That worked out fine, though, because the kids were done shopping.
   Another top suggestion is Crate & Barrel. A fellow editor was certain we had one on El Paseo, but apparently she confused it with the Pottery Barn. The closest Crate & Barrel is in Rancho Cucamonga.
 Others nominations include Chick-fil-A, Dave & Buster’s,  Ruby Tuesday, Claim Jumper and Wingstop. One letter proposed Piada Italian Street Food, a small chain based in Ohio.
One online comment on our story said, “Wow! We’re just like Orange County.” Amen to that.
I find the clamor for chains fascinating, extending my theory of the irresistible tug of the familiar. I have a friend who is in a guitarist in a band that emphasizes original music. But at the end of every set, the band plays a cover song and the dance floor fills in an instant.
  While I love Red Lobster  — hmm, cheesy biscuits  —  but I’d much rather support local restaurants. Chances are better that  profits will stay close to home. There are 680 Red Lobsters in the chain, which also operates Olive Garden.
Red Lobster is welcome here, but it’s nothing special. See you at Fisherman’s Market & Grill.