February 10, 2013

Local products, history enrich community

My fascination is with the creation of a sustainable regional economy in the North Country. I write this column because I believe discussions about the economy will make for a better economy. My interest in our small business is motivated by a desire to see our regional economy diversify into the production of grapes and wines. And, my love for our downtown is driven by the dual beliefs in a sustainable local economy and that people want to find their surroundings interesting and stimulating.

Lois Clermont, our paper’s editor, recently wrote an inspirational article about how restaurateurs are coming to appreciate the value of local production at their table. Of course, they want to keep their food and drink costs as low as they can. However, they realize that, while sometimes local products from small farms are a bit more expensive, they provide the small-business person with an opportunity to enrich their customers’ experience.

A guest at a restaurant is there to enjoy a good meal. However, if that was all they sought, they could just as easily have the food delivered.

Rather, the customer is also seeking an experience. The restaurant’s ambiance is important, of course. But, so is the colorful reputation of the chef, the vision of the restaurant owner, the history of the building that houses the dining room, and even the history of the town. These colorful aspects make the table conversation more interesting and the meal more enjoyable.

These are the reasons why restaurants want to be able to tell a story of local farm products on their menus, and why they would want to also serve wine made locally. People want to feel their meal is special, something that can only be consumed here, and not mimicked in every chain across America.

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