I don't think chain food is always bad. However, there are other issues here.Chain food is not bad. If you really believe that, you're saying that so many people want to eat bad food they'll make a bad restaurant successful enough to expand. Quite frankly, that's a ridiculous belief. You're saying that either the first restaurant changed to become bad so it could become a chain, or it's food was bad but somehow was successful enough to expand.
It's often a question of knowledge. Particularly when one is traveling, or entertaining guests from out of town, often the easiest thing to do is to eat at a restaurant where you know what you're going to get. Given the choice between Olive Garden and the neighborhood Italian place, the former is the safer choice. I find that I and other people eat at chains a lot more when we're traveling.
In some cases, the economic reality is that in some areas only chains can survive, and opening a local business is too big of a risk. I ordered Papa John's all the time when I lived in an isolated area and it was basically the only pizza available. Now that I live in a city full of small businesses, I would never do that because now I have better options (and because I know better). But a lot of where these restaurants make money is in essentially uncompetitive small-town situations or airports and other similarly restricted venues. There is a significant urban-rural cultural divide in this topic, I suspect.
However, it's also important that food that creates a pleasure response is not necessarily the best food. The big food vendors have put a lot of research into creating cheap and quasi-addictive food that is often very bad for you. McDonald's is example #1. I didn't stop eating there because I didn't enjoy eating their fries, I stopped because I found out what was in them (and because I got away from fries in general). The line between "food" and "drug" is somewhat artificially drawn, and there are food ingredients out there that probably have just as much reason to be banned as some of the drugs that are illegal for public health reasons.
There's also a legitimate anti-corporate point that probably risks infringing on ENW's politics ban, but suffice it to say even if the food at a chain was as good or better, I'd still rather buy from a local small business.
They don't get popular by being good either; any basic knowledge of the behavioral sciences will tell you that. Not that their food is irrelevant, it's simply one of many factors. The best musicians are not always the ones that sell the most albums, the best TV shows are not the ones with the highest ratings, and the best people are not the most popular ones.Popular things don't get popular and stay popular for decades by being bad. McDonald's and Taco Bell aren't big chains because they're bland, pathetic food.
Popularity arises from playing to the lowest common denominator, from marketing, from random pop culture trends, from cost, from all kinds of things. And sometimes from quality as well.
I just ate at a chain actually; a local four-restaurant chain that makes very good pizza but also is a business that does a lot of other things right. Local chains; wherein the ownership is still invested in the community and still has a sense of responsibility (and still is at risk if the business fails) are often excellent. Even national chains are sometimes good. Ben and Jerry's makes fantastic ice cream. Not the best, but certainly better than many.
It seems a pertinent analogy for a D&D site that D&D is not the best game in general, or even for most of us individually, simply the one that was most available. It's like a big chain.