This article by WYDaily.com is excellent. Everyone in williamsburg MUST read this summary of the Triangle Leaders meeting and the Vision Project…
I particularly want to focus on two statements… first,
“It certainly bothers me when we drive by a chain restaurant and it’s filled, when local businesses aren’t,” James City County Stonehouse District Supervisor Jim Kennedy said. “I think we can get our uniqueness back, but what I keep hearing is that we need a Wegmans. Either we work together to protect our uniqueness or we will be very empty.”
The average consumer is funny. I will use my family because they are so incredibly average. (Don’t get me wrong – I love them dearly.)
My parents go to Ruby Tuesdays. A lot. Nothing wrong with it and if you must go to a chain, fine. Great avocado turkey burgers and love their salad bar. I’ve been to a bazillion small locally owned restaurants… not a salad bar in sight and the food is hit or miss. You just never know if the ribs are going to be good or not and you have no idea if they will have something you want to eat.
But you WILL know they won’t be crowded. Drive up and down Richmond Road on any given Friday night and you will see parking lots chock full at Red Lobster, Red Hot and Blue, Aberdeen Barn and what have you. I’m seriously glad that Food For Thought is usually pretty packed too – due to a great location and a reputation that took time to build as a great eat.
It’s inevitable on vacation. Ruby Tuesday, Cheesecake Factory, Romano’s Macaroni and Grill (my personal fav chain mostly because they have singing servers and write on your table with crayons… oh their food is good too) and sometimes Cracker Barrel. Because you kinda have to on road trips.
I root for the home team when I can and that means I root for the local restaurants. I have made it my goal to eat at every locally owned restaurant in town this year. It’s one of those things that I feel strongly about trying to support.
But I’ll be honest. I have been really disappointed. I dont believe in publicly bashing (I try to live by the old adage “Praise publicly – complain privately”) so I won’t mention names. But there have been a few restaurants I’ve gone to and really really wanted to love them. Not so much. The food was mediocre (and I NEVER judge on one meal alone because everyone has an off night) and the place was either solidly average ambience or just outright annoying.
When you consider what makes a great restaurant, people generally go with what they know. They know what they’ll get in a Big Mac and there are no surprises. Appealing to a limited number of folks who, like me, would rather eat a bowl of ants (preferably dead and chocolate covered) means doing something better. If I feel like eating a totally average mostly tasteless meal, I’ll cook.
That said, I do go to two local restaurants somewhat regularly and I feel mostly indifferent to their food. Again, I won’t mention them by name, but I will say that I LOVE the owners. And so I go to support them. And that’s the difference. Personal connection to a place. I’ll eat the food and throw them my support because I have an interest in seeing them stick around for the long haul. And maybe they’ll get better.
York County District 1 Supervisor Walt Zaremba reminded the leaders to remember that “they should not try to be something they are not” when considering any changes. “An influx of the seniors are coming here because it’s a damn good place to live,” Zaremba said. “Why should we be in a panic because young people [from the College of William and Mary] want to leave? Isn’t that the nature of the people to adventure and see the world? They have time to come back later.”
I totally agree with this and I know good friends who won’t. They are constantly saying we need to attract younger professionals. Meanwhile most people I know hightail it out of here every chance they get.
When I first decided to move to Billsburg, I had told a good friend of mine who grew up here that I was moving and he said simply, “why?” This is a common question. You would think that there is nothing here for someone like me. I’ve lived in three of the best cities for young professionals (I’ll throw in single because let’s face it, I dated a heckuva lot more before moving here) – Denver, Los Angeles and New York – and I’ve been all over the country actively seeking out the best places to see and do. I love Austin for its quirkiness. I love San Diego for its weather and its FREE museums. Ditto for DC (um not the weather part – the museum part). I love Boston for its history and Orlando for its theme parks.
But when it comes to setting down roots and watching your career, your dreams, your energies, grow and bloom… I’m in Williamsburg. It’s the kind of town where you can MAKE things happen.
And that’s where I say, let the kids go. Get out. Go find yourself. Experience all life has to offer. Try stuff. Fail at stuff. Win stuff. Williamsburg will be here if you decide to come back. What attracts me most about this town is that there are some serious movers and shakers with big ideas who know that this is a great place to live.
What we need is resources and Energy Directors – people who can take all the good ideas, formulate them, make goals and run them to the finish line. People who can rally the troops and turn all the complaining and whining about the town into creating opportunities and get others to jump on the bandwagon.
This is a place we can do anything. It’s an open field. This can be daunting to some and the idea of trying to set fires under folks is more than most people can handle. So yea, those people can either sit back and watch – or get out and go somewhere with more overall momentum. Because most people are victims of inertia – they move when others move and stay still when others stay still. And they need to be in a good place where they won’t have an uphill climb – both ways – in the snow – with 20 pounds of textbooks in a satchel.
That ain’t me. I say bring it on. You don’t like something about this town? Do something to change it. You feel like there’s nothing fun to do? Think about what you’d LIKE to do and make it happen. Or if you aren’t that person, tell me and I’ll make it happen. You know that whole be the change thing. or whatever you do, do it heartily to the Lord thing. I’m tired of people heartily complaining. I believe in NOT focusing on what we don’t have and focusing on what we DO have and what we can make of it. We have AMAZING local artists, musicians, chefs, historians, hot men in britches, haha. We have beautiful wonderful amazing people all around us. Get them together every chance possible and you will see miracles all around you in small and epic ways!!! I like the saying “whatever you look for, you’ll find.” Let’s look for the gold! Do it!