As promised, more Body Counts. But first, some explanation.
My thinking last week was to let the numbers speak for themselves and allow folks to draw their own conclusions, absent of the usual editorializing that tends to accompany these pieces. I thought the fascinating part of the exercise (picking three restaurants, walking in at exactly 7:30 on the same night of the week, taking a quick head-count, and printing the results) would simulate the "blink" effect—essentially using Malcolm Gladwell’s paradigm, empowering the reader to reach her own most obvious conclusion in the first millisecond. Like Rashomon, everyone has their own story to tell, and some were not pretty. Well, with any good idea comes controversy, right?
Brenda Langton, who I respect as much as anyone in this business, told me that she thought of me as an ambassador of our regional food community, and that I have a responsibility to explain the numbers, asking me point-blank to consider if I was “helping people out and educating them,” and if not, then to consider what was the point. Doug Anderson, someone who I have known for years and who owns A Rebours and the soon-to-be-open (end of July) Nick and Eddies, told me he thought that printing the Body Counts “. . . is not good for small restaurants. It would give the indication that a restaurant like Kincaid’s on a Tuesday p.m. is the place to be—not my place—because they can post a bigger number . . . ,” and would therefore give the uneducated consumer a false indication that this is where the action is.
Doug was pushing for context and support; Brenda was encouraging a sense of civic responsibility.
My sense all along was to let people make of it what they will for a week. Anyone can make their argument using a number—it’s oddly misleading in its simplicity. But I don’t think that raising the issue of who is putting fannies in seats runs counter to supporting local, independent, food-focused eateries or educating the consumer about them. In fact, I argue that it does both. There are good restaurants in town hanging on by threads because there are only so many eaters to go around, and my own take is that the numbers tell you who is doing a good job of connecting to those consumers on some level. Is Cue connecting with the diner who is not going to theater? Not by my measuring stick. Is Spoonriver? You bet. Look at the numbers, drive by, go in . . . the numbers don’t lie. Is Temple drawing the late-night crowd? Seems to be. The early diner? Not on the night my bean-counter visited. Yes, it is just one quick snapshot, but it can be revealing, and whatever inference you care to draw is yours and yours alone.
Last night at 7:30 p.m., here’s what we found when we counted heads at three local eateries . . .
Temple – 22
Lurçat – 87
Gianni’s – 121
Moving on . . .
Coolest new store in town is 6twelve Premium on Selby and Dale. COOL. WAY COOL.
How do I stay high-functioning and ambulatory given my ridiculous schedule and bending over a hundred times a day to pick up a wriggling two-year-old? I get this question all the time. Well, I give the credit where it’s due: The best massage therapist in town is the immensely talented and therapeutically inclined connective-tissue problem-solver Candace Eck who runs re:nu at 1216 Selby Ave. Check her out if you need the kinks worked out. She does not have a website but her phone number is 651-276-2284. She ain’t cheap, but she’s worth every nickel, and then some.