Meat Loaf Is the Answer, Part 2: Let's come together over meat loaf.
|The straight dope on the Taco Walk.|
Develop New Albany's Broccoli Walk is August 12. What? Oops, sorry -- it's a Taco Walk.
I'm not an ogre, and I'm not hiking my leg and Dugginsizing all over a good idea from a well-intentioned individual. Rather, I regard it as a teaching moment, whether or not I have any students in attendance.
A Taco Walk or similar activities should be the domain of a functioning restaurant association, which currently (and unfortunately) we possess only as a conceptual outline. Some day, I hope this comes together.
Eateries constantly are approached with such ideas as a Taco Walk, many of them good and others not so much.
Invariably, these events are one-offs, constructed to maximize the future of the event itself and the share taken by the sponsor. Just as inevitably, the events are "special," not reinforcing of the day-to-day, as with the notion of a pizzeria making tacos only one day a year, only for the Taco Walk, which isn't necessarily a productive use of time or effort because it doesn't represent what it does on a daily basis.
In the case of one-off events like the Taco Walk, owners and managers are hesitant to refuse participation for fear that it will offend the city, which is perceived to be the force behind the idea, seeing as the city sponsors DNA, and DNA sponsors the event itself. That's why it can seem like a shakedown, even when it isn't.
Far better that these events come from within a restaurant association as a consortium of those who know best what's best for their businesses. Right now, this couldn't originate where it should, because the framework barely exists. As I said, maybe some day this will change. Note also that the same idea applies to independent local businesses in general, apart from food and drink.
Furthermore, speaking personally, it comes back to how one wishes to direct his or her money.
I'd say the vast majority of expenditures Diana and I make on food and drink goes to eateries and watering holes in downtown NA, precisely the ones participating in the Taco Walk.
Concurrent to this, there is DNA, now positioning itself as yet another captive arm of City Hall's diversionary propaganda and events-planning efforts, while neglecting certain key aspects of its mission as a Main Street organization, presumably because these are matters that Deaf Gahan likes to keep in his own in-box for maximum political self-aggrandizement.
Finally, there is the fact that yes, I served my terms inside the DNA organization (just shy of three years, if memory serves), and have subsequently immersed myself in the wider issues that pertain to the success of the city's food and drink community -- streets, sidewalks, subsidies, policies and the like. That's something DNA itself might try doing -- as a change of pace.
Restaurants and bars cannot exist in a vacuum. Various governmental decisions with ramifications on the conduct of commerce every single day matter tremendously -- and these are the same decisions DNA traditionally has avoided any involvement in reaching, except when they directly impact DNA itself (see market, farmers); only then does DNA leap into the fray.
Put all this together, and it should become clear that while I'm perfectly willing to spend my money by handing it directly to locally-owned businesses, I'm unwilling to do it when DNA acts as the intermediary.
Instead, I'll hand it directly to Chef Israel next Saturday night.
On the other hand, when (if) DNA undertakes useful activities that address the wider issues, I'm willing to support them. As it stands, DNA is serving as a toady for a mayor-for-life's crass daily re-election campaign, and I have no interest in contributing to this.
But I have an open mind, and await persuasion. There are numerous others, but here are three relevant questions for DNA:
1. How much is municipal government contributing to DNA's operation each budget cycle? I believe the sum used to be around $5,000 per year. Now that DNA has a part-time staff person, we can surmise that the sum is greater. Is it?
2. Since it remains the case that any time an organization like DNA is funded by the city, from a mere thin dime up to thousands of dollars, it is the right of any citizen to know where his or her tax monies are going, how much of the proceeds of the Taco Walk remain with DNA after eateries are reimbursed, and what will DNA be doing with the proceeds?
3. Ranging a bit from meat loaf (why?), is DNA playing an active role in the city's implied (though unrevealed "Make parking Great Again" plan for downtown? I've heard city officials make hints at merchant meetings, and am wondering if this is something occurring with the active participation of DNA, seeing as this would actually be a component of the organization's Main Street mission.
I won't be holding my breath waiting for answers, but make no mistake: DNA should be providing them.