Saturday, February 02, 2008

The White Man Must Indeed Serve Colder Ice




This morning I agreed to a business consulting session with an aspiring
entrepreneur who is seeking my advice about a new Internet community
venture. I suggested that we meet at “Thumbs Up Cafe”. This is a popular
eatery in East Point Georgia. When I got there the place was jam packed with
diners eating breakfast. There was a line of people waiting for seats as
well.

This strip is significant to me because a few years ago I lead a seemingly
one man effort to get my friends to support the new bars and restaurants
in this district. This is part of the revitalized city of East Point, a suburb of Atlanta. Unfortunately the blues club that I was working to get everyone to support
closed down after less than a year.

Knowing that "Thumbs Up" was too packed for me to have a chance at having an extended dialogue, I walked a few blocks down to see if “Q's Restaurant” was a bit less crowded for my meeting. Surprisingly “Q's”, the Black owned restaurant
was nearly empty. It is a "soul food" restaurant but they advertised clearly that they serve breakfast as well. I can only assume that “Thumbs Up” is White owned
because several of the workers were white. Usually the person who is
working with the cash register gives a pretty good hint as to the
ownership. I am not making the case against White owned restaurants in no
way. HOWEVER when there is the case where the one restaurant has 'feast'
and the other restaurant a few doors down has 'famine' then clearly there
is a CONSCIOUSNESS issue involved here. The fact that in many cases "your own people" are the only ones who are going to support your business effort - SURELY - someone should attempt to distribute this all Black crowd out in order to make sure that the other guy down the street stays open.

I am about to purchase some food from “Q's” and I am sure that the food down the street can't possibly be so good as to justify the imbalance. This is plain ridiculous at this point.

This is nothing new however. I recall the “Dougan's Sports Bar” in Stone
Mountain. As the community there transitioned to majority Black so too
did the customer base at Duguan's. The crowd of Black people got so thick
that the owners began charging $5 admission JUST TO COME IN TO GET SOMETHING TO
EAT. (No I did not say – to dance or to eat a free buffet). In the spirit of good
capitalism – I ain't mad at them. There is an abundant customer base that
is overflowing the seating capacity of the facility. One way to address the problem is to ration the seat to those willing to pay $5. A few years ago when they implemented this - upon my first visit when I was informed of the new policy I immediately turned around and refused to pay - taking my business elsewhere. Unfortunately the place was packed with young Black urban professionals who's didn't mind the $5 because they where gathering together with the Black friends. (I figured that it was the FRIENDS and not the ESTABLISHMENT that was creating the value - but I could be wrong).

Once again – a few months later a Black owned wing joint opened up about a
block away – down the hill from “The Atrium” theater and night club. It
used to be an old “Chili's” location. While this Black owned business
struggled to fill his seats – Black customers CONTINUED to wrap around the corner of the building in the cold waiting to get into Dugan's.

CLEARLY we have a CONSCIOUSNESS problem among our people.

Next time I go to Dugan's or Thumbs Up I will bring a thermometer to measure the temperature of their ice water as grounds for comparison.

(Let me be clear - I AM NOT MAD AT ANY OF THESE OWNERS. They are obviously putting forth an attractive product that this majority Black crowd enjoys. I encourage the other others to step up their game. At the same time I ask the BLACK CONSUMER to step up in his consciousness and support these other businesses - telling them what they are doing right and wrong so that they can IMPROVE. Share your opinions - don't keep them to yourself and vow that you will never go there again. How are they going to improve unless you communicate?)

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