We received a nice e-mail today from Mark Sample, whose wife, Teresa, opened the Emerald City Grill in Chittenango in 2002. Mark mentions how chain restaurants and their big-time advertising budgets can pose real problems for locally owned restaurants such as the Emerald City Grill. He’s absolutely right.
One of the most disheartening things I see comes each February when we drive from Hamilton to Sea Grove,which is in the Florida Panhandle. As we approach a big city from the north, we are inundated with signs for chain restaurants like Olive Garden, Cracker Barrel, and Red Lobster, which are all next to the same big box stores like Wal-Mart, Lowe’s and Home Depot.
We then travel through the city, and see the same exact restaurants and stores south of the city. Each city is looking more and more the same. You can’t tell if you’re outside of Richmond or outside of Raleigh. It’s a real shame.
We check out restaurants online before we travel, and make sure we have a few names and addresses handy for each town we think we might stop in. This helps us locate those places that sound interesting and unique to the city. We’ve found some great places in towns like Eufaula, Ala., where we had the best fried chicken we’ve ever had. We still talk about that place, and about the banana pudding we had for dessert.
We have choices right here in CNY, too. And we should support locally owned restaurants whenever we can.
I haven’t been to the Emerald City (map) yet, but Mark has put it on my list and we’ll be sure to visit soon.
If anyone else has suggestions for locally owned restaurants, please send them my way. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org