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Thursday, July 14, 2011

eat local

When we hear the buzz about local food we usually think about food that is grown on a farm nearby. But maybe we should broaden the discussion to include locally owned restaurants too. When you spend money in a locally owned shop or restaurant, 68% of that money STAYS in your community (as opposed to only 43% from a national chain). You can read more about this kind of community support here.

One of our favorite restaurants is Palace Pizza. This pizzeria is ran by a local Italian family and is located downtown in the building that used to be the historic Palace Theatre (hence the name). It was the first pizza place like this in our revitalized downtown. Before that, all we had was chain pizza with thick, oily crust.

We have eaten here from the beginning. I remember waiting patiently for it to open when I was working downtown in a nonprofit art gallery, walking down daily to check on the progress. It became a favorite place for us to eat with small children; first starting with pizza cut up into small pieces and finally graduating to each kid being able to hold their own slice, folded up New York style.

We go to Palace for any minor, kid-related celebration. End of swim class? Go to Palace. Hard doctor's appointment? Go to Palace. Birthday kid wants pizza for his party? It will come from Palace.

What makes it even more special to my husband and me, is that for a short while, he rented the space and ran an underground live music venue out of it. It is where we first met and became friends. It was all pretty illegal but lots of fun. My babydoll dress, Doc Martin wearing self had no idea she would still be hanging out in that space 20 years later with her three kids.

When I was growing up in Ohio, we frequently went to a local pizzeria that my parents had gone to as young adults. When we go back, we always eat there and have pizza, garlic bread and split a big antipasto salad with creamy Italian dressing and little pinwheels of provolone and processed meat. So vivid are these food memories that they transport me right back to my hopeful and innocent childhood.  I am sure Palace Pizza will be one of those taste memories that my kids carry with them as they grow up, and search for when they return home.

And I don't really think these sort of memories could be made at Pizza Hut.

Do you have a local eatery that holds a special place for your family? Please feel free to share in the comments.


  1. Yes, yes, yes! I hear a lot of people complain that the local restaurants cost more, but I just don't think it's true. There are mom 'n' pop diners at all price points. And the food is generally just so much better!

  2. I love the little caviat about how you met your husband at the same location; local businesses really do tend to go up in local buildings, instead of anonymous brick and mortar eye-sores: just one of their major merits (you've identified several more). I've always been amazed, in the cities I've lived in, from Northampton, MA to NYC and now Austin, TX, that The Olive Garden and Applebees' lots always seem to be full. I have never understood it-- with SO many amazing local restaurants, why make that choice? It's great to read about other families marking special occasions, and making memories, in local eateries.

    Taylor Alt-Mama


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