A couple of weeks ago we decided to take a break from discussing all of the depressing news headlines out there and do something a little more fun.  Enter the Lex, Buds, & Pick ‘n Roll Restaurant Bracket!  We seeded the top 64 chain restaurants (fast food and sit-down) to find out once and for all, who is the best restaurant in the country (or at least the best according to Brandon and myself).  On Episode 17, which was dedicated to Kip Winger of the 80s hair band Winger and their 1988 smash hit “Seventeen,” we completed the first round of the tournament and said goodbye to 32 of the 64 restaurants. 


Winger? I hardly knew her!

You can listen to the entire podcast here if you would like to hear us debate each matchup. Or if you’re too busy standing in line to get Kip Winger’s autograph while drinking your mocha latte from Starbucks, you can just read the summary below, in which I have divided the first round up into 3 categories:  Chalk, Close Calls, and Huge Upsets.


Every bracket has these matchups. The ones where the higher-seed is just vastly superior to the lower-seed and just completely overpowers them.  These games were all completely one-sided and received unanimous votes from both Tyler and Brandon.

  • #1 McDonald’s over #16 Bob Evans
  • #8 Arby’s over #9 Bojangles
  • #5 Domino’s over #12 McCalister’s
  • #7 Sonic over #10 Popeye’s
  • #1 Chick-fil-a over #16 Jason’s Deli
  • #8 Steak & Shake over #9 PF Chang’s
  • #4 Fazoli’s over #13 Jersey Mike’s
  • #6 Hardee’s over #11 Longhorn
  • #8 Five Guys over #9 Chuy’s
  • #5 Shake Shack over #12 Dunkin
  • #6 Zaxby’s over #11 Dairy Queen
  • #2 Cane’s over #15 Quizno’s
  • #1 Outback over #16 Big Boy
  • #8 Culver’s over #9 Chili’s
  • #5 Cheesecake Factory over #12 O’Charley’s
  • #4 Panera over #13 Carino’s
  • #3 Olive Garden over #14 IHOP
  • #2 Chipotle over #15 Noodles & Company

Close Calls

These were the matchups where the higher-seed survived, but it took a huge scare and went into Overtime (where our Producer had to be the tie-breaker) 

  • #4 KFC over #13 Firehouse Subs: KFC benefited from basically getting a home game in the first round. Kind of like how Duke gets to play in Raleigh every year.
  • #2 Texas Roadhouse over #15 Long John Silver’s: The fried crispies and Hush Puppies from LJS put up a valiant effort, but in the end were overpowered by the rolls and peanuts from Texas Roadhouse.
  • #5 Burger King over #12 TGI Friday’s: The BK Lounge (shout out for you Dane Cook fans) squeaked by and has the feel of a team that peaked too early in the season.
  • #2 Starbucks over #15 Papa Murphy’s: The coach for Papa Murphy’s is taking a lot of heat for his in-game strategy of requiring people to have to cook their own pizza. That was the difference in this one.
  • #1 Taco Bell over #16 Applebee’s: Applebee’s, who had been the laughing stock of the regular season, somehow won its conference tournament and got hot just at the right time. They nearly pulled out the shocker of the decade but in the end Taco Bell got hot and pulled away.
  • #3 Wendy’s over #14 A&W: A&W hit a series of FLOATers in the closing minutes to make this a game as Wendy’s went Frosty cold from the free-throw line. Somehow Wendy’s survived what would have been a Biggie upset.
  • #7 Jimmy John’s over #10 Hooters: Jimmy John’s freaky fast full-court press was very effective in causing Hooters to force careless turnovers.
  • #6 Qdoba over #11 Pizza Hut: Qdoba wrapped this one up late when Pizza Hut’s normally reliable offense failed to deliver.

Huge Upsets

Even Donald Trump would admit these upsets were huge. In fact, they were the best upsets in the history of upsets. 

  • #11 Moe’s over # 6 White Castle: Moe’s squeaked by in this one, led by their star player Joey Bag of Donuts, but they don’t have the feel of a team who can make a deep run.
  • #14 Panda Express over #3 Subway: Subway didn’t seem as fresh as they had been during the regular season.
  • #14 Little Caesars over #3 Cracker Barrel: The upset that shocked the world. Las Vegas is building a new casino as we speak from all the money bettors lost on this one.
  • #13 Red Robin over #4 Waffle House: Red Robin’s bottomless depth helped eliminate Waffle House. Waffle House left open driving lanes that never closed to penetration.
  • #10 Papa John’s over #7 Red Lobster: Red Lobster lost despite a 40-point performance from its star player, the Cheddar Biscuit. In the end though it wasn’t enough as they failed to get anything out of its other players.

 Here is the bracket as it now stands:


Be sure to tune in to Episode 18 next week to see who ends up moving to the Sweet Sixteen.  And make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@lexbuds), as we will be putting some of the matchups up for vote.  Who will be the last restaurant standing?