There are a lot of theories as to why Sbarro filed for bankruptcy last month—including “too-rapid growth” and the decline of malls. But Justin Peters has “a simpler explanation: Nobody likes Sbarro,” he writes in Slate. “Devoid of atmosphere, charm, and gustatory relevance, with no signature product to call its own, it's America's least essential restaurant.” On top of that, a simple slice of pizza sets you back $3.49.
But plenty of people do eat at Sbarro. Peters set out on a mission to find out why, stopping by four locations in three states. A Sbarro in Illinois was full of teens; DC’s Union Station branch was full of commuters and tourists; in New York City, two Sbarros were “packed.” Essentially, it “seems as though Sbarro courts the indifferent eater—tourists, children, people who just want a slice and a place to sit while they talk about the amazing pants they saw on sale at The Limited.” These days, however, that may not be enough.