Locally Grown

Perception or Deception? Tell Me, Are You Local?
2010/11/30, 12:51 pm
Filed under: Local Food Commentary, restaurant reviews, Vegetarian Dining



This is going to be a quickie today, tacos are a callin.  Oh, and I stole this graphic for you.

I think this is maybe relevent to today's rant.

I read somewhere yesterday where someone was touting Gino’s West as a breath of independent fresh air to the chain restaurant addled scenery of WDSM and that “Finally some local dining” had come to that area.  I would like to remind whomever wrote that semi-nonsensical comment somwhere on the internerd that the two prior occupants (Graze and Ciao) of the current home of Gino’s West (5513 Mills Civic Pkwy # 100 WDSM, IA 50266 515-226-2320) were both local-ish and independent-ish and unfortunately for them lasted about as long as the restaurant world’s equivalent to an okay bull ride.  Is Gino’s local?  Absolutely, and many of the people I have shared employers with were in some way connected to the Gino’s empire.  But this isn’t about how local Gino’s is, or how (here we go) the one time I went there for lunch it was pretty meh (yes, one visit doesn’t make a “review,” but I am not a reviewist, but a customer.  One visit CAN lose you customers).  This little rant is brought about by the general public’s continuing unwillingness to support the existing local business framework.  Yes, the economy still sucks like an Electrolux even though the powers that be have declared that there is no more problem while millions of out of work Americans will be losing their unemployment benefits (due to funding) by the end of 2010 as the financial sector that screwed/ripped off everyone and caused an enormous chunk of that unemployment laughs all the way to the money counting machine and the “Average Jane/Joe” type gets relegated to shopping at big discount chains for all their home goods, stopping by McD’s for some drive through bilge and somehow they are expected to support local business????? WHEW!

Yes, some of the recently failed local businesses had some problems both internal and external which caused their demise.  Whatever the problems, the bottom line is that the customers just weren’t there.  The chains stand strong because they have figured out a way to bleed a little from some stores and lick their wounds with other more profitable locations because for some fucking strange reason, even though most folks these days are crying “buy local,” the general public still has enough trust in the chains that brings them back to deposit what little entertainment dollar they have managed to scrape up into the pockets of some folks that are probably incorporated in the state of Delaware.  Don’t shake your head.  You all do it.  I even do it.  I will admit that sometimes I get down non-locally.  And we give the chains our money and watch as the local businesses sink.  We will get back to this.

Here are three local restaurants that are opening in the next two days: Zingaro (Thursday at 5p), Flour (Thursday 11a), and Big City Burgers and Greens*  (although BCBAG seems to be a template for future franchising) but for RIGHT NOW they are local, downtown, and I want to see them succeed.  All you locavore wanna-be WDSM folks who work in the downtown DMZ had better get your butts in their chairs at least once, give them a chance.  Don’t cause them to be the next Gateway Market West, Ciao, Graze (so help me if we ever get something else like Graze plz shoot me), uh, or all those other places that closed in the last twelve years since Winni has been doing her dance.

You want more local, then f-ing rep local.

The Cook.

Yes, I have my underpants in a bunch.  But at least I bought them locally.  And they are bunched quite locally.

* BCBAG is located at 400 Locust St, Suite 195, DMZ.  They open tomorrow at 11a.  I will be going there for lunch and telling you “less fortunate people,” the vegetarians, all about the Veg options there.



16 Comments so far
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BCBAG was delicious when I went there for their soft opening during the Winter Market. Just a few kinks to work out and I think it’ll be an awesome addition to downtown. Also, it looks pretty sweet which helps that corner immensely.

Flour…I’m all bajiggly just thinking about it! Proof is my favorite spot for lunch (maybe in general) in the metro and I have enormous faith in Carly’s abilities and instincts to give us something amazing. If there’s an item there that makes me as happy as her lunchtime scallops entrée does then I’ll certainly be a regular!

Comment by Kim

You said bajiggly

Comment by locallygrown

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Was one of those defunct restaurants the fondue one? I never felt like checking it out because… its main attraction was fondue. I may be thinking of a different establishment, though.

Note: fondue is best for a novelty at parties, or as a mainstay in kitschy 70s cookbooks.

Comment by Mike

Two words, Mike… Fuck.Fondue.

There was a Chain Fondue Bar back where I lived in Wilmington, DE and everyone was super pumped about going on dates there…until a number of people celebrating special moments got food poisoning. Gross.

Comment by locallygrown

Moranville reviews lots of locally-owned places, and anyway, I would be surprised if a single locally-owned restaurant ever failed because of anything she wrote or didn’t write about it. People’s preference for “safe” big chains is more of a cultural thing. I think a lot of people wrongly perceive the chain spots to be cheaper than locally-owned restaurants.

At least national Chinese, Indian or Thai restaurant chains haven’t developed (yet) to crush the locally-owned spots.

Comment by desmoinesdem

Yes, I think almost all of her reviews are of the local spot type. Duncan is the one who reviews without prejudice to ownership (in fact I remember having to hear about Jim’s review of a Wendy’s or something from a former employer). I think Winni’s power over restaurants’ success has flexed a few times, but then again her complaint was probably founded in fact. That is kind of the job description. I think if an owner or chef takes too much stock in the negative words a reviewer has spat in their direction it turns into a tail-chasing situation in the restaurant. Shit, this is really the subject of a whole post.

The safety factor is exactly why people flock to chains. I picture the outside of the Monroeville mall scenes in the original “Dawn of the Dead” but instead of a mall, superimpose a PF Changs or Burger King in its place. And they aren’t cheaper in price, but usually cheaper in quality (although my chain guilty pleasure is cheap on both fields) and most people raised after the 80’s in our conventional unconventional homes full of Kraft and P&G products don’t get the disconnect between quality/price/ethics/health.

That last paragraph about national chinese chains is scary and nearly Nostradamus-ian. Let’s all hope that never happens…but there is always 2012…

Comment by locallygrown

Great post Sam. Bringing awareness to buying local is a huge feat..one that will take much repetition. Keep it up…I’m still working to stray away from my BK sliders…ugh.


Comment by Katie

Thanks, Katie. I understand the difficulty in shaking that fast food tar baby off your gardening clogs.

Comment by locallygrown

I love that Big City has taken over that spot in Capital Square and is adding some new life to it. Can’t wait for nice weather to experience their patio (although I see they have an indoor patio area in the Cap Square Atrium). I hope DM is ready for a “burger joint” that isn’t going to stuff your gut with huge portions and will be a bit more expensive (relatively speaking) given the fresh, organic, ingredients. I have some faith considering that Dos Rios broke the mold for Mexican food in the metro and from all appearances, seems to be succeeding.

Comment by DesMoinesReport

I love the BCBAG concept and the prices are in line with what they are doing. It is going to be a great addition to the Hamster Skymaze Graze spots. If they can get rolling without any major hiccups, BCBAG is going to be a success.

Comment by locallygrown

I’m all inspire-ized to go eat something now. Way to go, Cook.


Comment by InthewaterDSM


Comment by locallygrown

Sorry, but I didn’t care for BCBAG. I love the concept, but $7.50 for just a burger? $9.00 + for a salad? In this economy, it just isn’t going to make it. That, and the burger was comparable to BBops. I am anxious to hear your review.

Comment by kyaker

Where do you see $7.00 for a burger on their site or menu?

I just took a look at the menu, and the burgers seem very, very well priced. The only one that was over $7.00 without a bunch of additional toppings was the seared tuna, which is very much in line for that sort of sammich.

To be honest, the prices seem very affordable to me, just wish they were open for dinner, cuz this dewd can’t make it to DTDSM for lunch.

Complaining about a $9.00 salad means you must not eat salad out very often. At most restaurants around here, a salad will be at least $10 all the way up to $15/$20, depending on the ingredients.

Comment by InthewaterDSM

This is exactly what I was afraid of (realizing of course this is only one person’s opinion) and intimated at in my earlier comment. That is, if diners don’t take into account they are eating healthier (or enough people don’t care), I fear this could be a typical reaction.

Who’s ingredients do you think are much healthier (and thus have a higher cost)? B-bops or Big City? Is it really fair to compare the two?

The salads at Big City are huge. What do you expect the price to be? Aren’t the salads at a place like Legends $8 or more? Do you think Legends is using organically grown or local veggies?

I’m not trying to shill for Big City as I have no dog in this fight, but I do think Big City needs to carefully market what they are doing or responses like this person’s won’t be that uncommon. i.e.….people need to go be educated (through proper marketing) so they have the proper expectations before they go into the place.

Comment by DesMoinesReport

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