Our old condo was near many great restaurants, and offered us a 20-minute drive to the cities if we wanted more. We thought moving to the suburbs would cut our access to great food some, but when we asked our neighbors, we were assured there were many culinary delights surrounding us. We should have known this wasn’t exactly the truth when (and I mean no offense to anyone who has uttered the following phrase, I truly do not, I’m just a snob) they told us that they were celebrating 20 years of marriage at the Outback Steakhouse.
Downtown has had about five different restaurants in our short time here in the ‘burbs. And this food turnover has caused a lot of drama in our city. The local paper had pages of letters to the editor for months after a diner closed, which seemed to be a last straw for the neighborhood. I personally never went to the diner because I never had the chance in the brief time it was open. But Scott did and was rather horrified at the $17 lunch he had there. He had simply ordered turkey and meatloaf, which at a neighboring diner would cost about $7.
So we weren’t at all surprised when it closed. We were the only ones, apparently. A myriad of letters to the editor blamed locals for not caring about local food, the Chamber of Commerce for not supporting local business, the local paper for not advertising for them (for free of course…and on a side note, the local paper did a total fluff piece on diners through the ages or some such nonsense which more than once mentioned this new place), and the townsfolk in general for being cheap horrible people. Some of the people who simply offered advice/reasoning for why it didn’t work show how uniquely suburban this area is:
“Not once did anybody from [the diner] come by the office to drop off a menu or some coupons or just to say ‘hi’ and encourage folks to come over for lunch.”
“Well, [suburb residents], you blew it again. It was with much sadness that I read of the closing of [the diner] after a short, but expensive, run...In an endless parade of sub-par restaurants that have come and gone from the area, [the diner] was what we had been waiting for. Excellent food, great atmosphere, and decent prices for an A-tier restaurant. Insert snicker from Stephanie here. This is a business that should have been supported.”
“Face it, [our suburb] is not as upscale as some of its leaders believe. We are ordinary, moderate and fixed income residents. We need a family restaurant with affordable prices, a varied menu and breakfast. Breakfast diners in the area are very limited. This we would support.”
Last year a Mexican restaurant opened across the street from the doomed diner. I was actually pretty excited because to get good Mexican, we have to go a town over. What luck to have one down the street! Yeah, luck does not equal a $14 enchilada. $14…enchilada! Served with…white rice. I almost can’t write it. WHITE RICE…MEXICAN RESTAURANT! Luckily we didn’t have to bear the injustice of this for long, they closed, too.
And once again, letters to the editor poured in. Only now a few of them actually mirrored what we were thinking: do you not do your research, people??!! I feel like our neighbors are fairly representative of a good portion of the population of our city. More than half have been in this neighborhood for more than 20 years and if they think a fancy special night out is the Olive Garden, then so be it. In the short time I’ve lived in this food wasteland, not a single restaurant has made it that doesn’t host a weekly meat raffle or offer amazing happy hour deals. And that’s fine, right? Maybe, just maybe, though, we stop giving loans to people who want to open fancier restaurants here. Maybe we focus on revitalizing downtown some other way.
May I suggest a cheap Mexican place that serves appropriate rice? And if I could add one request: can my entire bill be $14, please?