Monday, March 28, 2011

Make it a Destination

Lynn has a lot of great breakfast joints, and a few places that serve it late enough to call it brunch. I can find something good to say about all of them, except for the two I haven't tried, yet. I'll get around to them, eventually. It's a matter of being able to get up on time, and not being able to eat some foods.

I'm a vegetarian of 20 years (since age 16) who found out two years ago I wasn't supposed to have gluten, which is mainly in wheat, barley and rye. Oops. Well, much to my surprise, it's still not difficult to eat in restaurants as a celiac vegetarian in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, and even at randomly scattered joints such as Georgie's Diner in Connecticut, with their separate gluten free and vegan menus. (They deserve the plug, but beware that their web site is heavy on flash, annoying music, and Comic Sans.)

The challenge for me has been in trying to support Lynn establishments and promote them when I can't eat at most of them. And it isn't just Lynn. The North Shore as a whole, has some catching up to do. But Salem and Beverly are leading the charge. Not Lynn. The fact that the most populous North Shore city is lagging the most, bothers me. There's an opportunity to grab, here.

On Sunday, we drove up to Rawberts in Beverly, for the rare chance to be able to order just about everything on the menu. Because the food isn't cooked in the traditional sense, gluten containing ingredients aren't used in most dishes. It turns out we should have made a reservation.

The place was packed with diners who traveled from all over. I heard people asking for recommendations on where to wander while they were waiting for a table. One group walked to the beach. Others, to a store down the street.

But they weren't there simply because it was Beverly and they have a nice, quaint, downtown. Rawberts was the destination. It could have been anywhere. And I don't usually like raw food places, but Rawberts is uniquely good at what they do.

I ordered something quick from the counter so I could stand the wait for a table. And it was worth the wait.

I don't care if the destination's specialty is a kind of food, a kind of product, a kind of venue, or a kind of activity. A unique destination that's good at what it does, will bring people in from outside Lynn. The Blue Ox is bringing them in. The Little Gallery Under the Stairs is bringing them in. Turbine is drawing a good crowd from Nahant and Swampscott. Zimmans has been bringing designers to Lynn for years...and others.

Yet, I still think we need more. We need more specialty restaurants and shops. We don't need more places that offer run of the mill fare, run of the mill goods or common entertainment. Why travel here if you already have one of those in your town?

So who's going to open a vegetarian restaurant? Who's going to take cool concepts like Noteborn, already in Lynn, to a ground-floor storefront?

This may upset some, but I don't want to hear that old-time Lynners won't support these places. We don't need them to, if they're destinations. They can either climb on board and be part of new DTL, or be left behind. Everyone has that choice, and our most vocal detractors are completely out of touch with the good stuff we already have going on, so it's not likely they'll come down, anyway. No need to pander to a disinterested audience.

But to those life-long-Lynners who we do see in DTL, we welcome you and thank you.

To anyone looking to open a unique destination here, we're pulling for you.

Selfishly, I want a place with more vegetarian and gluten free options so I can eat here more often. And my girlfriend would like some vegan options. That being the case, we won't have to drive so far and wait so long for a table. Instead, others will drive far and wait for tables, here!

Artist: Missing Persons
Song: Destination Unknown

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