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Restaurant Reality in the 21st Century
By Maren L. Hickton

I live in a neighborhood that is 35 years old and have lived here for 12 years. A lot of transient families move in where the breadwinner who works for a major corporation gets transferred to Pittsburgh for a new position with a company and then they buy a house in our neighborhood. They choose this neighborhood, I'm sure, partly because of the nice wooded lots and the established landscaping that takes years to cultivate.

So they move in and immediately call the local tree removal company and within a month their yard is leveled and I mean, leveled. Then they call a landscaper and turn over all the grass and plant sod or, more amusing, pay tons of money for tons of top soil and spray their yard with a combination of seed and fertilizer which looks like spray paint to plant a new lawn. Then they remove original stone walls and replace them with treated landscape timber or formed concrete block and rip out the established vegetation and plant seedlings. After about six months, they replace the siding and the shutters. Window replacement to a newer style usually follows, where the windows might be five or six years old when they moved in since the last person moved.

By the time these folks are finished, they end up with an entirely new house and new yard that does not seem remotely connected to why they would buy the house in the first place. And then their company moves them out and the process starts all over again with the power saws and the trucks and the contractors as my husband and I watch bemused.

This is an example of the public we are dealing with: new, improved, better, different, throw it away.

As restaurateurs in the last part of the 20th century, where the public has been flooded with choices, we, too, have gotten caught up in the hysteria: new, improved, better, different, throw it away.

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