Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Eat Down the Street

Hey guys! Hope everyone is having a splendid week. Have you heard of the 3/50 Project?   If not, you should make a trip over to their Web site. It's a really cool group of like-minded individuals that think shopping local is pretty much the bees knees (and we would tend to agree)

3/50 started out with a single blog post asking consumers to commit to spending at least $50/month supporting three of their favorite local businesses.  The post had 7600 unique readers in the first seven days; since then the 3/50 project has become  an International movement to save brick and mortar businesses. Just goes to show the impact one person can have on the world...

Of course, a few more people on board is NEVER a bad thing. So, we're asking you to consider spreading the word. Right now 3/50 has started a new campaign to support locally owned, independent restaurants. Every town has them, and every town needs them to stick around.

I'm not the first to tell you that businesses are in tough shape right now. Most people (especially business owners) are cautiously optimistic about the economy and how to spend any extra cash. It's not as easy to get money from banks anymore, which is maybe a good thing. But it tends to be bad for those companies that need funds to make legitimate investments in their business. Recently, we've had a number of restaurant closings in the Milwaukee area that really hit home -- great independent places with amazing food and good service that just didn't have the capital to make it through the past few tough months.

One of those places is Izzy's on State St. in Milwaukee. They opened in July 2009. By September, State Street was completely under construction (thanks to stimulus funds). Good news in the long haul, but tough for any new business. Ultimately, they chose to discontinue the dining side of their business and are currently operating strictly as a caterer.  This article appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel shortly after they opened.

This past fall, Good Life, a Caribbean inspired bar and restaurant whose business was severely impacted by the construction project which closed the Humboldt Avenue bridge (slated to persist through June 2010), taped a sign to its door reading, "Effective 11/03/09 Good Life restaurant is closed to the public and will no longer be open for business."  

And there are others -- Heinnemann'sFratello's, Pandl's - Bayside, and The Rusty Skillet, to name a few.

Anyhow -- you can do your part to ensure that your favorite little eatery doesn't meet the same demise. It's all pretty easy. Just commit yourself to going to an area restaurant (not a chain or national brand) once a week and spread the love. Take a look at the places where there is road construction. Sure it might not be as convenient, but when there's a will, there's a way! It's a great way to ensure that the places you love are going to stick around for the long haul... and not fade into the background. It's also a good way to keep the economy healthy and not so dependent upon big chains and conglomerates.

Go here for more details about the 3/50 Project. You can buy cool t-shirts to support the campaign. And you can print out cool flyers to share with your friends and neighbors... of course, the important thing is that you get out there and eat local!

If you're in the Milwaukee area, here are a few places I would recommend visiting (in no particular order -- and absolutely NOT comprehensive):
  • Bayou - Another restaurant struggling due to the Humboldt bridge construction. Take the detour and give this cajun/creole restaurant some lovin'!
  • Brocach Irish Pub - Two locations (one in Milwaukee, another in Madison).  Irish pub fare at its finest.
  • The Comet Cafe and Honeypie Cafe - Two favorites we're tempted to keep all to ourselves (but that would be counter-productive, now wouldn't it?)  Opt for one of the specials and you can't go wrong.  Gotta add Palomino here too (thanks to @Mike_Thiel. Awesome tofu options. Great mac & cheese).
  • La Reve Patisserie and Cafe - Super great French Bistro in the heart of Wauwatosa. Head West young man!
  • Cafe Lulu or Juniper 61 - Bayview for you, Tosa for me. We're all happy.
  • MeeKong Cafe - Asian gem. Great dishes from Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. Love the spicy drunken man noodles!
  • Il Mito Enoteca -Italian with a Mediterranean twist. Incidentally, they featured an amazing chocolate hazelnut schaum torte on their dessert menu last week. Hope you had a chance to give it a try. ;)
  • Alem Ethiopian Village - Went here the other night for the first time, and it won't be the last.
  • Transfer Pizzaria Cafe - Recently featured in Milwaukee Magazine's "Best Pizza"
  • The National -  A breakfast & lunch place. Good food. Coffee. And art galore.
Come to think of it, we've got to get out to some of these places ourselves!

What are your favorite local places?

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  1. I've never heard of this site, but already subscibe to this thinkin'! In the Outpost Co-op literature, I read that when you shop local businesses, $.68 of every dollar stays local. That is pretty cool. I never gave too much thought to this basic economic math until I once lived in a town of 500 people. We had a restaurant, a hardware, a couple bars, a jewler, antiques store and a gas station and a small grocery. When someone I knew tipped me, I knew I'd be putting the money right back into their businesses, and keep things moving around. Pretty cool stuff!

    Thanks for the restaurant recommends, too - sometimes I get too wrapped up in cooking and not enough into dining out. I've got to change that a bit...

  2. This is a great idea! I am so glad to have heard about it on here, but first from Twitter! Count me in to getting out to those local places, and I will have to open my wallet a little more each week. ;)

  3. Love the idea. I'm going to pop over and read more about it. And I'm going to check out some of our local spots. With three small children we don't get out much.:-(

  4. I love trying local restaurants - there are so many great ones to try that I hate wasting dining dollars on chains or restaurants I've been to before! We have fallen in love with Fortune, a great authentic Chinese restaurant on Highway 100. Not your typical greasy Chinese - my friend from China was the one who originally recommended it. They do take out too.

  5. Fortune sounds like a win! We'll have to keep that in mind the next time we're in the mood for Chinese!

  6. We've had a lot of the same issues here in Minneapolis where road construction is a season. So many good local restaurants have closed. We try so hard to support them & think this is such a great movement

  7. What a great project, we have also lost many local restaurants here in the orlando area.

  8. That's easy for us. My neighborhood is filled with independent restaurants. I'm very lucky to live where I do. The strip I live on is very Mom-and-Pop. Starbucks went out of business there! Unlike a lot of neighborhoods with a lot of independent businesses, it's not snooty and upscale.

    Of course I also want to give some of that $50 to the cool clothing store owned by my childhood friend!

  9. This is a great idea. For us, it is really easy to do in Vermont, since most of the businesses are locally run. We even have an awesome pub called "The Bees Knees" that we just LOVE!

  10. Oh my gosh what a fabulous project. Can you imagine how many different types of bloggers are fit to promote this. We might just be able to save ourselves with sort of mentality. Great post!!

  11. Yeah, definitely a great idea. A few of my local favorites are Allo Chocolat (@Allochocolat; a candy store), Haute Taco (self-explanatory, I think) and Nice Ash (a cigar bar).


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