With Orlando being the giant melting pot that it is, mostly because it feels like we are always melting, it is always great seeing all the food and shop establishments from other states come down to be in this fine city. We’ve had Wawa, Shake Shack and Culver’s all make their way down to Orlando much the joy of everyone from the north. But what about us southern people? Sure, Cheerwine has made its way down to some Publix and 4 Rivers. But we need the grand daddy of southern fast food restaurants, one that is even better than Bojangles. I’m talking about Cookout.
For the unaware, Cookout is the place Belinda Carlisle was singing about (look it up). It’s a restaurant chain started in 1989 in Greensboro, NC. It dared to be different in that unlike other places, it was drive through or walk-up only. There was no indoor seating at any of their locations for 7 years. But the joy you gain from sitting outside in 30 degree weather in Boone, NC with your college friends eating their food is an experience unlike any other.
And let’s talk about the food. They have your standard offerings of burgers, chicken, fries and other great offerings. But then they have things like quesadillas, hush puppies and hand spun milkshakes (more on those later). But if you’re like me, at fast food places I get the combo meal. But Cookout takes this a step further with by offering their combos inside a styrofoam tray with your choice of not one side, not three sides, but TWO SIDES. And those two sides can be the same. Those sides can also be something like chicken nuggets or a quesadilla. So you could always get a combo meal of three quesadillas and a drink. Did I also mention these combos are all $5. And they have been for the last several years. And their meat is always fresh and never frozen. It’s like Wendy’s, but if it were normal sized burgers and they tasted good.
And the milkshakes. There are more than 40 flavors of these handmade wonders of the world. The flavors have your standards like chocolate or strawberry. But then the have ones like Reese’s Peanut-butter Cups or, my personal favorite, Banana Pudding. And they have two seasonal offerings of watermelon in the summer and eggnog in Christmas time.
So why should they come to Orlando. For starters, it’s delicious. Second, it’s an economical choice in an area that has places that somehow charge $8 for a mediocre grilled cheese. You can get so much amazing food for $5. Third, it can act as the Southern embassy in central Florida. You already have a built in fan base and southerners praise this institution second only to Chic-Fil-A.
So in conclusion, we need a Cookout in Florida. With great desserts, value, variety and taste, this needs to make its way down to Orlando.