I know it's been a bit since I last posted, but it's been quite a busy summer. I find when you have two kids, summer becomes busy days, not lazy days. We have had parks, swimming lessons, zoos, and vacations. I have to constantly fight that selfish and lazy urge inside of me...to sleep late, to mow the lawn tomorrow not today, etc. etc.
That being said, it's been one of the great summers, if you ask me.
The kids are getting bigger, and we had a great time on a family vacation earlier this summer. Drove to Florida, took a cruise to the Bahamas, and back. And up until the last day of the trip, the kids were perfect. They only got ornery in the last 7 hour stretch of cornfields.
I know people are very surprised that we took the two younglings on a road trip, but I have to say (perhaps begrudgingly) that road trips can be awesome. If you have the time, you can save money and see a lot.
For example, Metropolis, Illinois. When we first drove by Metropolis, it was late at night, so we couldn't stop. On the way back, however, it was about 3:00 or so. Just the right time to see.....the Superman statue! I had 4 days of luxury aboard a cruise ship, stepped on non-Canadian foreign soil for the first time in my life, and saw all things gorgeous in our vast country. But for me, the highlight was Supes. I like to pretend the kids had fun, too.
We did other things, and we're still doing a few more things this summer, but it's been pretty fun so far.
And it looks like government started to get things done, too. We've got a brand-spanking new Supreme Court Justice who, for the first time in a while, seems to have a real personality. Regardless of political persuasion, anyone who isn't moved by her personal story must be stone cold. She's a latina girl from the Bronx. Kinda like JLo, JD, right?
Of course, I came back to Milwaukee after only being gone a week, and discovered a few pesky things. Like construction. The entire trip to Florida, everywhere--and I really, honestly, truly mean everywhere--was under construction. Milwaukee, Chicago, Illinois, Kentucky. Orange cones everywhere. My wife and I decided we should invest in orange cone manufacturing, because someone's making a killing on those things. They're everywhere. So when we get back to Glendale, Good Hope Road was torn up. I knew it was going to happen, but after a 14 hour driving day, geesh, 1 mile from the freeway to the house would have been nice if it weren't set up like a giant pavement pinball game.
And then I went to Bayshore. Those of you who know me know I like to support local businesses, in big or small. So I usually get a large diet Coke from the Chocolate Factory when I'm nearby. And on my way to get my soda last week, I passed a new restaurant under construction. And because I'm apparently slow, it took me a few minutes to realize that it was a sub sandwich restaurant chain. Where the Chinese restaurant and Arby's used to be. Basically, right next to the Chocolate Factory.
So I'm thinking to myself, "WTF"? (translation: "what's that for?". I don't curse in this space. This column is rated PG). So I repeatedly said, WTF? WTF? I couldn't believe that such a travesty was allowed to take place. Another sub restaurant right next door to a classy, locally owned, distinguished sub shop? It makes no sense to me. And it doesn't make sense for two reasons: first, why would they have 2 of the same thing next to each other at all? And secondly, why would a mall, in tough economic times, ok a situation where two of its tenants would directly compete? I suppose that all of a mall's tenants can be in direct competition with one another, so maybe that's not the issue. Maybe the issue is that a restaurant like the Chocolate Factory represents the best of our community. Locally owned. People we know. A landmark. We don't need to see more landmarks fail in this economy.
I want to make sure that I'm clear about a few things. First, the new restaurant is, also, likely locally owned. That means whoever owns that restaurant has a family and is just trying to make a buck and provide for his or her family. That's honorable. Nonetheless, I'm still confounded by the logic of placing these two businesses next to each other.
Perhaps I'm biased. After all, my fondest memories of Bayshore Mall go back to when I was a kid and I used to play on the carousel horses that the CF had in their original location (not too far from Tiffany's cookies, if I remember, which always gave away free cookies to kids. A key reason why Tiffany's probably not there anymore). I know that the Chocolate Factory moved its location a few times, and my impression was they were always playing nice nice with the needs of the mall as it would expand. For about 30 years the Chocolate Factory has been, and will always be, good tenants and a responsible business owner in the community.
There are those who will rightly point out that the two restaurants are different and that they will serve to different crowds. Chocolate Factory has artisan breads, hearty meats and vegetables, and terrific desserts and ice cream. The other one has that guy who went on a diet.
In any event, you guys should check out CF's sub of the month--a greek sounding delight called the "Cool Cucumber Sub"--smoked turkey breast, cucumbers, lettuce tomato, onion, and my favorite---tzatziki sauce!--served on a warm & lightly crusted sub roll.
I know where I'm going for lunch.