It#8217;s dog-eat-dog in restaurants and politics

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

One has to wonder just how many more restaurants downtown can support, or could we call most of them &uot;a place to eat?&uot;

Each time a gaggle of retail outlets opens anywhere in the 430 square miles of Suffolk, even mini-malls, we find one or two places to order food wedged in there. I leave it to you to determine if and how many qualify as a place to &uot;dine.&uot;

Busy Elizabeth McCoury, with the city manager’s office, has been bringing “businesses” to downtown, but it seems the large majority are food gamblers lulled by the term &uot;surging downtown Suffolk.&uot; I should note we have no idea how far, or in what direction, &uot;downtown&uot; extends. Would it include Ruby Tuesday’s, where I had lunch on Wednesday? How about Fred’s in Franklin?


Email newsletter signup

Downtown eateries do not tempt revered tourists, but do feed employees of retail stores, city government, and the courthouse, who don’t brown bag it, and families giving the cook a break. For those who can afford to eat out, taxes and the price of gasoline are now putting a dent in that.

Ed’s place, if included, is homey and the portions satisfy even us big guys who don’t know enough to stop ingesting.

There are dozens of chicken purveyors scattered throughout the 430 square miles; have it your way. I fear for them when the avian flu wipes out the chicken flocks. Will they then find a hundred ways to serve up one of the porkers raised on nearby farms? (Who hasn’t found themself behind one of those memorable live pig delivery trucks on Godwin Boulevard?)

Suffolk could become known as “Barbecue Alley.” Both McCoury and Lynette White should make a note of that. Because we have no dedicated-to-it-museum, we have let the glory of the peanut get away from us as a symbol of Suffolk. Let’s not screw up what we could gain from a ten-foot pig at each entrance to the city. Look what Norfolk did with the mermaid.

He knew where the switches were

Still buzz about the election. What happened at the polls to squeeze, no, shove, two former bureaucrats from their position on council? We know about the HNH, Holy Neck Hex, that prevents one from winning twice. But what about Bobby Ralph? He could not have seen that tsunami wave coming.

After his eloquence delivering the “State of the Onion” address at the Hilton, it just didn’t seem possible. The publisher of the News-Herald predicted it, and I thought he was loony to go out on that limb. The Suffolk voter turnout in all boroughs is shameful, and though the downtown area is losing registered voters, Mr. (Councilman-elect Charles) Parr, a likeable man, apparently knew where the remaining switches were.

Lame ducks with red pens

We did Andy Damiani’s Roundtable Talk show at the News-Herald with the council members-elect, and between takes I learned these two can be tough guys willing to mix it up with any city manager when necessary. Long overdue here. Mr. Parr is opposed to restoring the old courthouse to create a new home for the Tourist Bureau and believes they belong in the Cultural Center. That move alone saves a million bucks. While I had his ear, I suggested the Suffolk Museum also be located there, but he had no comment. Will the old senior center become a peanut museum?

By this time Council will have begun the budget liposuction, where we hope they aim the cuts more in the direction of a 1`5-center. This is a battle of wills, wants versus needs, sensible versus silly, reality or pie-in-the-sky. Those who attended the last public budget meeting with hands outstretched, and teachers, will be sweating a bit while assessment-increase-sufferers position their hands together in prayer. Unfortunately it takes only four people from our population of 80,000 to decide the cut, and two of the seven are very lame ducks, less affluent come July, and perhaps now more willing to use a red pen.

Contact Pocklington at