Sunday, May 28, 2006

Ma's Family Restaurant

Someone asked me if I've tried the local "Smokey Bones" restaurant; I haven't. I've also been asked about some other places up by the mall; sorry, can't comment as I've never been there. I have not stepped inside a chain eatery, by my own choice, in years; I much prefer to patronize a Mom & Pop.

Several reasons:

(a) Mom and Pop have put their lives and what they have into building up this place and, if they have done a good job (i.e., the menu is varied and they haven't poisoned anyone), they should be rewarded for their efforts.

(b) M & P probably have local dishes you won't find in a cookie-cutter chain. There's also a better chance you can get something made to order, especially if they aren't rushed at the moment.

(c) The place's income probably stays local, at least more than a large chain which diverts profits off to Big City, SomeState.

(d) You will feel like a valued customer, not an item to be rushed through. "Thankyousir,nextplease?"

Yes, Smokey and the others do provide waiters who treat you nicely, but I still see the artificial atmosphere in the identical restaurants, the money going far away, the locals being affected by the Big Chain influence. I don't mean to damage the chains --my avoiding them won't even show on the radar-- but to support my neighbors who work hard to provide the restaurants I like, the pizza shops that, each, have their own very vocal following.

My favorite pizza place has its rest rooms on the outside. It used to be a gas station.


Anonymous ruthc said...

I tend to agree with you about the stand-alone places to eat when I'm in my home area. But traveling through an area I'm not familiar with---ah! that's something different.
When the object of the game is to refuel and relax a bit---but only a bit---before continuing a journey those chain restaurants offer consistency. You know as soon as you see the sign exactly what's on the menu, and how it will be.
Remember the old Howard Johnson's? In those restaurants you even knew where the rest rooms were before you entered! Very handy when traveling.

May 28, 2006 9:21 PM  
Blogger Tom Carten said...

While I don't disagree (uh-oh, that means I kinda do), I have found asking the locals where they go can bring unexpected surprises.

Many years ago, while traveling with my aunt and uncle, we were in some small NY state town and, instead of the Main Street McD's, we asked someone if there was a diner. Sure enough, a delightful old place where the locals went.

Another time, a friend and I skipped the McD's and found some place that was something else decades ago. Wasn't much better on the inside. But the food was great, the prices good and the help was friendly.

Both of these were eat & pee stops, with a little more time spent than at a fast-food, giving us time to slow down and rest a bit before hitting the road again.

Besides, I like a place where the waitress calls me "honey" or "hon." It's not a real diner unless you get, "What would you like, hon?" when you walk in.

May 28, 2006 10:48 PM  
Blogger Cold Josh Vail said...

My .02ยข.........

In the northeast, good BBQ is hard to come by unless you hit places like Smokey...BUT, the ribs you get are a far cry from what you'll get at Parker's in Wilson, N.C. Problem is....people have been marinated in chain restaurant fare because they have the $$$ to try something extra to see if it works or not whilst Mom & Pop cannot. Now I have found one (1) BBQ place, on I-91, Exit 4 at Putney, Vt. called Curtis'. Curtis is a black fellow from S.C., has a corrugated roof over his pit and has been there assuch, for years and years.

While traveling, I look for pickups with licence plates from that state. no trucks..pickups. Pickup people know things, they love good eating, wear jeans and enjoylife. Trust me on this..go p/u's.

Another one is asking around to your internet friends. If you are going down south and have internet contact with someone from say, Tennessee, you might make a detour, but y'all gonna eat good!

Chains do offer consistency, true. And for drivebys they are acceptable, if you know them. Went to Outback once....once. Disappointed. Ruby's, Chilis, TG's make great burgers.

In Maine beware of their breakfasts.....they pride themselves on being woodsmen and think that everyone should eat a 3K calorie breakfast to help them make it to lunch. The Blue Moon in Waterville, another place at four-cornes at Madison, Mooney's (famous) Diner, Thompson's in Bingham, and Four Seasons in Jackman........3k calorie can't even drive.

And while I'm wasting your time, we were heading south on the Peninsula to visit our daughter in beautiful Portsmouth, Va. and as usual I happened to find an interesting back road neat St. Michaels, Md,,,or maybe Crisfield. Anyway I found Higgins Crab Shack,all-u-can eat. The lady, ''Good afternoon, hon, can I get you sumpin'?'' showed up with a plate of bluepoint crabs, a dozen of them. couldn't finish them off, and she offered me a box. A box? This is an all-u-can eat place. ''Oh shoot, hon, you're only on your first problem''

ColdJosh ''window Table, Please'' Vail

June 03, 2006 7:59 AM  
Anonymous Helen said...

Great story, Josh. I love little local places. We spent a few days in Vegas last year and did the traditional buffets in the casinos for the most part, but once we were on our way to some activity off the main strip and came across this little 50s-style diner and decided to see what they have. We got the best breakfast I've ever had - homemade pancakes and muffins, scrambled eggs and home fries done right, bottomless good coffee, jukeboxes on the tables and a waitress that called both Hubby and me "Hon".

We were back there over Memorial Day weekend and couldn't find it. Our loss.

June 04, 2006 10:59 AM  

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