July 20, 2008

Cindy’s House: If You Are ‘Vacationing’ at Home, Vacation at Your Favorite Restaurants

By The Kansas City Star, Mo.

Jul. 20--All this talk about "staycations" has me really looking forward to the beach.

Lucky for me, I bought our airline tickets to Florida months ago, before the latest national travel neurosis crashed the summer vacation party. For a country founded by extreme risk takers, we're becoming alarmingly alarmist.

After 9/11, well-meaning friends and acquaintances cautioned my husband and me against flying to Germany with our kids to visit family. Terrorists!

Then came warnings against vacationing in Florida in summer. Hurricanes!

Just when "orange" travel alerts and dire hurricane forecasts began to fade from the collective consciousness, along came a new bogey-man. The economy!

I'm not sure how this one got traction. When was the last time the economy was good? And with the price of gasoline, it's probably cheaper to fly to an all-inclusive resort than to stay home for a week buying gas and groceries.

But as Dylan would say, it ain't no use to sit and wonder why. A lot of people are apparently staying home this summer instead of jetting off to frolic in warm aqua seas with manatees. To them I say: It's not too late to change your mind.

If you are sticking around, I have a suggestion for how to "vacation" in town.The inspiration came from Richard Mabion, a Kansas City, Kan., businessman and community organizer.

Recently, Mabion heard one of his favorite local coffee houses, Q Brew at 1744 Quindaro in Kansas City, Kan., was in danger of closing. Spontaneously, Mabion sent out an e-mail asking friends and associates to pick five of their favorite local restaurants and make a commitment to spend money at each of them over the course of a month.

Mabion says the response to his off-the-cuff idea was immediate and overwhelming. Replies streamed in with people sharing their lists of five, which Mabion compiled into a master list of 49 establishments in just a couple of days. (To see the whole list, go to KansasCity.com/FYI.)

Mabion's reasoning is elegantly simple: If you like a local 'que shack, java joint or pizza parlor, it's in your own interest to actively help keep it afloat when people start getting skittish about the economy and staying home.

Count me in. Since my current top five local restaurants (Jerry's Woodswether Cafe, Le Fou Frog, Town Topic, Room 39 and Bo Ling's) already enjoy a steady injection of my cash, I'm going to pledge to visit five new establishments on the list each month. That sounds almost as fun as going to the beach. Almost.

Reach Cindy Hoedel at [email protected] .com. Find more columns at KansasCity .com.


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