The Simpsons

Restaurant chain T.G.I. Friday’s is in the middle of a hip reinvention, with a location in Texas ditching the crazy crap on the walls in favor of a minimalist aesthetic that won’t offend any young people, Jon Gosselin occasionally popping in for DJ sets in Pennsylvania, and those limited-edition Deadpool cocktails that were totally in-your-face, but now the antique fans at Collectors Weekly are wondering what’s going to happen to all of that wacky kitsch that used to fill Friday’s locations when all of the restaurants become cool and stylish. The Collectors Weekly piece is an exhaustive look into the history of putting old signs and toys or whatever on the walls of restaurants, and it features loads of quotes from people who actually worked in the “décor management” world—which is to say that they bought weird antiques to put on the walls of places like Friday’s.

One interesting bit in the story involves the existence of “’fantasy’ antiques,” which were decorations made specifically for restaurants that only looked like antiques. As Friday’s got more and more successful, putting stuff on the walls got a lot more expensive, which necessitated the creation of these fake antiques and replicas that looked just like the real things. Unsurprisingly, this practice seems to be kind of like cheating in the décor management world, with a representative from Cracker Barrel proudly telling Collectors Weekly that “99.9 percent” of the antiques at his restaurants are real.

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Also, naturally, the piece touches on the way popular culture pokes fun at the phenomenon of putting weird stuff on restaurant walls, specifically referencing Uncle Moe’s Family Feedbag from The Simpsons (origin of the “crazy crap on the walls” phrase we said earlier, but you knew that) as well as Office Space—which the décor management world doesn’t seem to like much for some reason. The whole Collectors Weekly article is a fascinating glimpse into an aesthetic that some people may not be especially fond of, and you can read the whole thing here.