At least once a week my wife and I have an urge. A desire we can never fulfill. This usually leads to wailing and sorrow and resorting to a less satisfying alternative. Drizzly cloudy days like today stir my desire even more. But it's all for naught.
We really miss the Pufferbelly.
The Pufferbelly was a bar/restaurant not too far from where we live. It was dark and noisy and had an awesome salad bar. The chicken pot pie was home made and meals came with a slice of spiced apple. She, being a local girl, had gone there with her folks as a kid and we brought our daughter there when she was only days old.
Despite having a loyal clientele and always being moderately busy, the Pufferbelly closed a little more than a year ago leaving us with no good local options for pub food that we can bring a kid to.
There's a Walgreen's on the spot now. We'll never shop there and I give the place the bird when I drive by.
On my way to work from the babysitters there was a closed McDonald's. About a year ago someone started doing some work renovating the place and it reopened as Good2Go. They were a "healthy" fast food place that used fresh chicken and beef, cooked to order, hand made fries and the best breakfast sandwich ever... pork roll, egg & cheese on pretzel bread. Gah! So good!
But their location wasn't great, I'd imagine the rent was atrocious, and they were never very busy. They closed within 6 months.
When I worked in the chemical lawn maintenance industry I found a little gelato place next to an Acme. They were called Dolce Crema. Their banana gelato was the most delicious frozen treat ever. It was frozen creamy über-banana. Even though they were a 45 minute drive away, they became a destination spot. We got to know the owner and always had fun visiting... until they closed.
We try to visit my folks every couple weeks. For a while we had a routine where, 15 minutes away, we'd call Lulu's Mexican and place our order for pulled pork quesadillas and chips and guacamole. We'd pick it up just before we got to my parents and start our visit with a wonderful feast. We knew the end was near when the owner got rid of his employees, raised his prices a bit and extended his hours. Every week we waited for the shoe to drop... and it did. One day he just didn't open. Skipped out on his rent and his loyal biweekly customers. Chipotle and Baja Fresh are poor substitutes.
Last night I took the family to Pizza Hut. While they weren't as awful as I recall from my childhood, they were not spectacular. For most of our meal we were the only diners in the joint. The waitstaff was inattentive. And yet, since despite spreading their meh pizza and halfway decent bread sticks (and terribly barren salad bar) from coast to coast they will survive forever.
Go enjoy something locally owned today. Tip them well and enjoy your meal... they won't be around for long.