Friday, June 10, 2011

Ice Cream, Social

I had a great time last night at the blogger meet up at Gary's Ice Cream. Rather than try to summarize (besides, has already vlogged this), I'll just pick one point to slap together into a paragraph:

Differing views towards 'Wings Over Lowell': It was interesting to hear people's thoughts about the new wings joint that's going to come into the property recently vacated by the dearly departed Dharma Buns. There seemed to be a pretty stark split among long-time residents, who were almost uniformly pessimistic about Wings' eventual fate, and newer residents (like yours truly) who were a bit more hopeful/optimistic. I'll admit that I don't know the first thing about how difficult it is to run a small business, esp. in the food service industry, and I also haven't lived through enough openings and closings of downtown businesses to be jaded (though since 2008, it seems a bit too easy to rattle off all that's been shuttered around here).

Of course, I wish them the best and look forward to the convenience of being able to order from a place just down the street that can deliver to my home using the oldest known form of transportation. I'd also like to think they can make big inroads with the college kids up at the UML ICC, and can generally improve on DB's business model with higher volume and better pricing.

But as much as I like the idea of wings and all else they'll offer (Lynne was saying the same today over at LiL) the split last night reminded me of the discussions I used to have about the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP) with a former neighbor of mine who grew up in Israel, served in '67, and emigrated to the U.S. well into his adult life. Just when I was getting old enough to start reading the New York Times for more than the box scores, I would read stories about peace proposals and excitedly tell him, "Itzhak, did you hear about this new idea?!?! It seems like this is what's finally going to work...Arafat is coming to the table now, too."

He would just sort of grin a little without showing too much emotion, and say something to the effect of, "No, actually I haven't seen the latest developments in the MEPP. It's not worth following too closely, in fact. I'm too familiar with that part of the world to expect any changes, so I'm not holding my breath."

I sort of felt my bubble deflate a bit whenever he said this, but I finally learned to understand what he meant. There is a forest, there are trees, and someone familiar enough with the forest doesn't get too swayed one way or the other about the changes.

Self-aware enough to know how green I can be, I'm still pulling for Wings and really believe it could work if they get the marketing piece down and can tap into all that's available in the city.

Oh, and one of the very cool but totally unexpected results of attending the Ice Cream Summit last night was learning that a new Iraqi-themed restaurant recently opened on Merrimack St. Its name is Babylon, and it's where Mama Lia's used to be. I checked it out today and was able to get a phenomenal chicken/beef shawarma and a fatoosh salad for a reasonable price.

Besides the great food, Babylon has another important but often-overlooked thing going for it:
niche. As much as I love Irish-themed pubs and beauty salons, it's nice to see something downtown that's a complete break from the norm of what's tried-and-true. Sure, there's risk associated with that, but count me in as someone who hopes to become a regular customer...though not 'til February.


Corey said...

Was great seeing you this week! I too checked out Babylon with a friend who had been deployed to Kuwait - we too were quite happy with the food and prices, and wish them the best. Now, if only they had a hookah! ;-)

KMM said...

I really appreciate the fact that you didn’t use the words “old” and “young” in this sentence; “long-time residents, who were almost uniformly pessimistic about Wings' eventual fate, and newer residents”.

Perhaps that is actually where people differ. I know you can survive all the wings you can eat for at least another 10 years; some us have to live with the wrath of our cardiologist if we eat those. I will certainly try it once.