Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Great Setting for Serious Thinking

As you can see, I still haven't figured out how to wrap text around the photos.

Nonetheless, I can still tell you about the Renaissance Cafe, 210 N. Center, in Assaria as an excellent place for quiet day meetings and good food. Nathalie and daughter Elaine are the breakfast and noon cooks. And it's always delicious -- and made from scratch. On this particular day we had spaghetti and fresh garlic bread. It was sooo good.

The cafe is located in a 1919 school and is adjoined with a Great Plains Manufacturing plant. The cafe surrounds a sunken gym and stage. Owner Roy Applequist owns the plant and keeps the cafe open so his workers have a place to eat their noon meal. On Thursday-Saturday evenings the place converts into a fine dining facility for Italian meals with Kevin as the chef. You can't go wrong at either time of day. It's different menus but both are delicious!

Dave Procter, director of the Center for Engagement and Community Development of K-State, WenDee, and I met recently to talk about the grocery store initiative. For good karma, I like to meet in a town that matches the size towns that we're discussing.

Dave had recently been at a national community development conference and realized that Kansas is ahead of the curve in paying attention to the crisis of sustaining rural grocery stores. Though things have been moving slow that bolstered us to know we're a least on a good track.

Issues on our mind are volume buying, work force, loyalty shopping, cost of utilities, some legislative issues, and the need and desire to stock local produce, healthy foods, and possibly Kansas-made arts and craft products, as well. We have to figure out what needs to be done to support this primary and anchor business in towns of 2,000 and less. Though it's hard to sustain stores in cities of less than 5,000, there seems to be another deeper layer of issues when you go below 2,000.

Dave and I have known each other for years so we understand one another and work well together. The plan is to mesh grassroots abilities with university resources and see if we can create a new working model for rural grocery stores. We've got to make it happen as soon as possible.

It was a good meeting... It will take some outside-of-the-box thinking to create this new model. It will take the right people in the bus, on the rights seats, and we'll need to find some money to put this all in place. We've just got to make it happen.

1 comment:

Patsy Terrell said...

I just ate dinner at the Renaissance Cafe one recent Saturday night. Wow. YUM! I can't wait to go back. Maybe we should all go there soon. Did I mention YUM?