Well, now we have Chick-fil-A in Grand Rapids.

But, now we need to work on a few other restaurants that are missing in our area. I made a list starting with my personal favorite that we're missing out on here:

1) Whataburger:

Whataburger via Google Street View

A lot of people talk about In N Out burgers, but I think Whataburger burgers ARE. THE. BEST. They’re just delicious burgers made any way you want. In fact, they boast that there are 36,864 ways to dress a Whataburger and each one is cooked fresh. They also have no need for a secret menu because seriously, they’ll make their burgers or chicken any way you want. Want 4 patties, with 6 slices of cheese, jalapenos and fries on top? They’ll do it! They also have ketchup so good that it’s sold in stores (including Walmart). If you love hamburgers, you owe it to yourself to live long enough to try Whataburger. They’re based in Texas and right now the closest one to Grand Rapids is oddly, in my hometown of Fayetteville, Ark. Road trip anyone?

2) Cheesecake Factory:

Cheesecake Factory via Google Street View

Pasta, steaks, burgers… so many options (large portions) AND CHEESECAKE! In fairness, this chain has at least made their way to Michigan, but needs to make it across the state to our part of the world. If you haven’t tried Cheesecake Factory yet, you need to stop in the next time you’re in the Detroit area. It’s located at the Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi. 

3) Zaxby's Chicken Fingers and Buffalo Wings:

Zaxby's via Google Street View

I love chicken and miss this place! I first tried it when I was in Mobile, Ala., and fell in love... with their chicken fingers. They also have chicken wings, sandwiches and salads all made when you order them (kind of a theme to this list.) When you go, make sure to try one of their signature dipping sauces from the easy to handle "Zax Sauce" all the way to "Nuclear" and "Insane", which are super hot, but  make the already delicious chicken fingers even better.  The closest Zaxby's is in Fishers, Ind., just outside Indianapolis.

4) Braum’s Ice Cream and Dairy Stores:

Braum's via Google Street View

They serve ice cream, frozen yogurt, hamburgers, sandwiches and breakfast items.  They’re based out of Oklahoma, and their thing is freshness. In fact, we would probably never get a Braum’s because they only open stores within a 300 mile radius of their family farm, so the food is always guaranteed fresh and farm grown. But to get a burger and some ice cream on a summer night at Braum’s is a fond childhood memory.

5) Waffle House:

Waffle House via Google Street View

Growing up in the south, there’s nothing better after a night out than to stop into Waffle House. The food is greasy, and probably not the healthiest, but it is delicious. And you can get your hash browns “smothered” (with onions), “chunked” (with diced ham) “diced’ (with tomatoes) “peppered” (with jalapeno peppers) “capped” (with mushrooms), “topped” (with chili)  or “all the way” (with everything in/on them). They’re open 24 hours and a lot like Starbucks… they’re EVERYWHERE down south. The closest one to us is in Toledo, OH.

6) White Castle:

White Castle via Google Street View

Three words - late night drinking.  A whole bag of burgers beats anything else you could possibly scrounge up after a night of partying. It’s so good, Harold and Kumar spent a whole night looking for one. We’ve had an employee drive an hour and a half to Howell just to enjoy some White Castle goodness. (P.S. He didn’t drive after the late night drinking part.)

What do you think? What would you like to see open in West Michigan?