Move Over

A franchise belongs on the highway, not the destination



As you brace yourself in your seat for the upcoming jostling of the rocky path after a monotonous drive on the freeway, you are caught off guard from a Subway planted like an alien ship among the park entrance’s local restaurants, and you realize that you never left the city after all. 


During my recent camping trip to Zion National Park, I got a chance to dine at some of the most diverse restaurants that aren’t offered in a fast-food dominated Salt Lake City.


Therefore, on occasions like these, franchises should be left as a convenience on the road rather than diminishing the culturally diverse and vibrant local diners offered in the countryside.


First, through my own experiences of travelling in an RV, a quick meal on the go is always best when we’re in a rush to beat a four-hour drive to Zion National Park. 


I’m always tempted to order a standard BLT at Subway and nibble on it as I stare out the window at the receding line of typical McDonald’s and Panda Expresses. 


However, these systematic franchises eerily stay with us all the way, until I spot a familiar mirage of the yellow-and-green Subway sign next to the park entrance as we turn to our campsite. 


Throughout the picturesque view of the rocky cliffs and the quaint local restaurants welcoming us with some regional comfort food, the fluorescent Subway building not only fails to camouflage itself among the earthly colors of its surroundings, but it is completely out of place in comparison to the small businesses layered in the valley. 

The Whiptail Grill at Zion National Park. Courtesy of


During our adventure, we decided to stop by the “Whiptail Mexican Grill” situated next to our campsite.

At first, its spacious layout next to the bus stop made us believe that it was a gas station, yet the restaurant owners decided to make “good use of the old” by transforming the tedious entryway into a vibrantly colored façade and layering the kitchen and patio with artwork and stickers of its emblematic whiptail lizard logo. 

What pleased me the most was that the food was just as vibrant as the place itself. Per the theme of the restaurant, I got the chance to savor a pulled pork taco drizzling with barbecue sauce, mounted by a delicious onion ring topping. 

I also tried the avocado salad bursting with the fresh ingredients of lettuce, onion, chicken, and corn that can’t be found in a plain iceberg lettuce Subway sandwich. 


The restaurant equally had great customer service, with our family dog receiving loads of treats and rubs that aren’t offered behind the counter of a typical fast food joint.


The welcoming ambience and exclusive design that erupted from a standard gas stop demonstrated the creativity of the local restaurants next to the national park, bringing with it the excitement of trying something new rather than staying “inside the greasy box” of an unoriginal franchise.


Additionally, with more than three million visitors coming to hike along the perilous and miraculous trails of Zion National Park, in addition to the number of families– like mine– that decided to sleep there on a long weekend, potential business opportunities are expansive for entrepreneurial individuals to start their own restaurant business.


However, when a new Subway comes to town, the local charm of these diners are diminished by Subway’s reputation as being a “quick, fresh option” across the city. 


While more than 200 Subway restaurants exist in Utah, there is only one “Whiptail Mexican Grill” across from the touristy national park, which is why unique locations such as these that provide the adventure we seek in traveling should also bring some thrill in escaping from the “norm” of franchises.


Therefore, the convenience of franchises should only go as far as the road takes us, for the destination is reserved to deserving restaurants worthy of our attention and intrigue away from our Subway sandwich wrappers.