To Whom it May Concern:
One of the best parts of living in the ‘burbs has been my slow realization that living out here is not the end of the world socially. Every time you look up, there’s a new import of a Dallas favorite, a side project from a chef you already love, or places that have helped us move beyond the downtown/uptown view that we’re all watching MMA fights at wing restaurants between trips with the kids for unlimited breadsticks and a dip in a chocolate fountain.
As this has happened, I’ve noticed two distinct feels for these northern concepts. The first (let’s call it the “right way” to do business) is to create a restaurant that will be part of the neighborhood with a great dining/drinking experience that stands on its own. This seems like a really easy concept to grasp and a general key to success … right?
There’s a second troubling approach I’m starting to notice and it can be summed up as “Hey, you suburban Neanderthals, put down your slop for a second and come have the honor of dining on what us city folk eat.” Sometimes this comes through from a server; other times you can just feel it permeating the entire restaurant the moment you walk in. It’s not limited to second locations – in fact, most of the biggest offenders I’ve encountered are places that have opened out here only. For a few of these, you can almost circle the date on the calendar in 12-15 months when the novelty will wear off and everyone moves on to the next big thing.
Now, I’m not going to name names or turn this into a list – different places have bad days, sometimes a waiter from the Dallas location who feels this way takes a shift and does a poor job of hiding an attitude or, being frank, there are (gasp) exhausting suburban stereotypes in suburbia that reinforce the whole outlook. I love that I can hop over to a second Lockhart’s and walk out with ribs and some of the most underrated turkey you’ll ever see at a BBQ joint and I certainly don’t want to seem ungrateful, especially as someone who spent my childhood in a town that didn’t get a Chili’s within 30 miles until I was in high school.
So, why am I ranting? Because as a person who moved out here after 7 years in Dallas “proper”, it’s exciting to me to not only kill my own misconceptions and judgments, but bring friends out here and have them do the same. I won’t pretend to not still venture to Dallas when I can, but it is very satisfying to have a community feel up here that also captures some of the best things about living near the city. There are people who plan their lives around the Lakewood house and the job downtown, which is awesome, but there are also plenty of great opportunities (and parking spaces, yards, less congested roads, etc.) outside of the bubble as well.
There’s nothing worse than convincing a person to come out all this way, taking them somewhere that sounds great on paper and then watching them get so turned off they either find a way to never come again or just suggest making a few drinks and ordering in at your place. So, please, if you’re an owner of a restaurant, bar, cocktail lounge, house of wine, illegal moonshine bathtub or anything else that lets us eat, drink and be merry, please remember to keep treating customers the way you would want to be treated and help us to continue to build up a real food and drink scene north of 75.
Yours (somewhat ungratefully),