The first time I ate at one of the Old Wild West, I sat in a teepee. In Italy.
Let me explain.
There’s a popular restaurant here, I’ll call it a restaurant because there’s table service, called the Old Wild West – in English, no Italian translation. I’d describe it as a “fancy” McDonalds? Maybe? with a heavy Cowboys and Indians theme, BBQ and bacon everything on the menu, and has a few multiple personalities because it also has Mexican and brownie sundaes, and peanuts on the floor (kinda) like the Texas Roadhouse. (Is that a thing anymore with all these peanut allergies?)
The place is made to look like a saloon complete with metal chandeliers and swinging wooden doors. But then there’s half a wagon set into the bar, complete with arrows sticking out of the canvas cover. You can be seated in the “Bank” section of the place, behind a wooden wall with windows making it look like a kid’s playground. There are old bottles and “things” placed in the rafters. Woven baskets and other “American” antiques looking a bit stale even as decoration. There’s also a sign in every single one that just says Indian People. Portraits and pictures of random Native Americans grace the walls and, yes, there is a table covered in half a teepee. If the US knew enough about this place to get offended over these terrible stereotypes, oh dear Lord, I could only imagine the rage.
Their burgers have names like Apache and Dakota. There’s also one called a Cow Burger. There’s an appetizer of fried olives they decided to translate to “Green Balls.” They pride themselves for having Miller. The place is a rollercoaster ride start to finish, and each time I’m back, (which is rare for obvious reasons) I sit with horrified amusement at my surroundings.
The only high point of the place is occasionally, depending on how serious the manager is, I’m assuming, they play country music and I am delighted. Other than that, this place is just the go-to when the Sushi place said the kitchen was closed and the pizza place was empty and it was getting close to that dreaded hour of 4:00 pm when food options become desolate until dinner time. So today I ate under the gaze of a Native American chief that I’m sure would roll in his (I hope sacred and protected) grave if he knew he was plastered on a wall in a ridiculous fast food chain, and then I realized, that this is probably exactly how Italians feel, if they ever find themselves in an Olive Garden.