Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dining In... or Dining Out?

For Valentine's day, we were going to Dinner & then to see Celtic Woman. Dinner & a show is a common occurrence for lots of couples on "Love Day." The reason I think this is blog worthy is because of a conversation Chris & I had in deciding where to go to dinner.

Because the economy is weighing on so many minds (not to mention how it's affecting people's budgets) many people scaled back for Valentine's dinner this year. No $180 steak & lobster dinners, but rather just a nice quiet evening out at a more reasonable establishment.

We were bouncing around options between our home and the Theater we were going to... Chili's, Applebee's, Texas Roadhouse and our local family owned restaurant. The timing was critical as our show started at 8:00 and we wanted to be able to park and get our seats without breaking the sound barrier. ☺

The more we got to talking, the more our conversation sparked commercialism vs. community loyalty. In this difficult time, the big chain restaurants have advertising dollars from deep down in corporate pockets. They have the branding because of their huge advertising budgets to draw a crowd any day of the week. While the server's tips are important to that individual person, much of your dining experience is impersonal and cold.

The small mom & pop diner on the other hand, they really feel the pinch in tough times. They don't have the funding to do huge television advertising campaigns - and in some cases, even the newspaper advertising is ridiculously expensive and cost-prohibitive. Regardless of cost however, they always provide service with a smile and often they recognize their customers by face. We are all part of the same community, so much of the time, they have supported the local school programs and athletic teams. Yet these are the shops, stores & restaurants that people tend to overlook because of America's commercialism and advertising.

Let the purpose of this post remind you to be loyal to local business owners. In many cases, it's Mom, Dad and all the kids that have built the business from the ground up. They've put in their blood, sweat & tears to create business and jobs in the community. In some cases it's been handed down from previous generations. But in any case, when people tighten their purse strings, their businesses tend to be forgotten.

We had a wonderful dinner at our local restaurant and they were really grateful we came. We had no problem getting a seat (but when we drove past Chili's on the way, the parking lot was overflowing and the wait was at least 30 minutes). We had way more than we could eat and we know our two meals really made a difference to the family that owns that restaurant!

I wish you many happy meals and prosperous times ahead!

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