Friday Foodstuffs 9.3.10: The Fragile Nature of All Things, Including Restaurants

“Our day-to-day existence is very much alive with hope, although there is no guarantee of our future. There is no guarantee that tomorrow at this time we will be here.” – Dalai Lama

So I’m sitting here, typing away, and as I look outside I wonder about what would today had been like if Hurricane Earl did not have a cold front pushing it out into the Atlantic. Would we have been evacuated? Would our little house have survived the 100+ MPH winds? Would most of our material things have been swept away? It’s potential moments like that which make me realize how fragile our existence really is – and that I cannot get wrapped up in all things material, because it could all go away with one mighty gust of wind.

In some way, I can relate these thoughts to the life of a restaurant. The line between making it and going belly up for a restaurant is pretty thin, and can move closer or further away depending how the winds of popular tastes are blowing. For eateries like Tortilla Press in Collingswood or White House Subs in AC (just to pick two random places), a strong front has seemingly stationed itself, pushing away any potential storms. But for two locations in Toms River, Chim Pum Callao and Downtown on Irons, the storms took them out to sea. And while it’s easy to just say ‘Well, they’re only restaurants,’ I can’t help but feel a bit of sadness for those who worked at those locations and tried to make a go of things – only to have it not work out in the end.

We were fortunate enough to have eaten at Downtown on Irons, but never made it to Chim Pum Callao, which featured Peruvian cuisine. There has been an explosion of ethic eateries in Toms River in the last few years, but there have also been some casualties along the way (such as Salang Kabob House). The hope is that over time more places will be able to weather the storms and enjoy the sunshine of a good loyal customer base. An ending is never truly final; it’s just a pause before the next beginning. And so, I hope that these folks can get back on their feet and get back to cooking down the road.

The weekend event schedule is on the light side, with it being Labor Day Weekend and all. On Saturday, West Cape May has its annual Tomato Festival at Wilbraham Park, and the Buena Vista Country Club is throwing an End of Summer Barbecue from 4PM to 10PM. And Carriage Trade Cheese Shoppe in Medford is holding another Cheese Accompaniment Tasting from 1PM to 3PM. For your outdoor dining pleasure on Sunday, head to Wiggins Park for the Camden Waterfront Backyard BBQ from 2PM to 10PM.

For cooking classes this weekend, it’s all about the Viking Cooking School at Harrah’s in Atlantic City. Have an Italian Grill experience on Saturday; or, for another kind of grilling, enjoy a Grilling Workshop on Sunday. And even on Labor Day you can partake in a Grilling Party!

Blogging Out Hunger

The controversy over a food pantry grant application finally ended in Commercial Township with unanimous approval last night.

A new food bank opened in Woodbury last week.

A local 4-H club in Gloucester County does a nice job in collecting food for two local food programs.

And in the news this week…

The Curious Case of the Hairy Bagel reaches an indictment.

The Curious Case of Cheesesteak King Joseph Vento and the Supposed Extra Police Patrols (aka Is The Courier-Post Making Way Too Much Out Of This?)

A trend that we along the shore are happy to be seeing: more restaurants getting creative.

Look who’s going Jersey Fresh: Charlie Brown’s.

Want to show your support for our troops in a tasty way? How about some Jarhead Jerky?

Want to help support the Atlantic City Rescue Mission? How about some cheese spread?

Enjoy your weekend!

– John

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5 thoughts on “Friday Foodstuffs 9.3.10: The Fragile Nature of All Things, Including Restaurants

  1. starting any small businees is a very difficult, dicey affair. Restaurants are, I think, ever more difficult. I think many are most likely under funded. You are not going to make money the first day…or month, or even year sometimes. You have to built it up. But do you have the money to keep it going until it catches on?

  2. Not to mention the fact profit margins with restaurants are very thin. You have to really love the business to be in it, which is why I really appreciate those who take on the job and do it well. – John

  3. The Owner of Downtown On Irons actually opened a new restaurant on Route 37East, Toms River. It is called the Serendipity Cafe and has the same great food he served at Downtown on Irons. It is a storefront in a strip mall and still BYOB, but it is really nice. You must go there and check it out.

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