OPINION COLUMNS

Can we value a good meal instead of a value meal?

By Kristen Tribe | Published Thursday, July 8, 2010

Last week I learned Decatur is getting a Wendy’s.

I don’t think this is a newsflash. I’m just a little behind the rumor mill.

The kids and I stopped for snow cones at the Frigid Frog (two Pirates of the Caribbean and one pi a colada, please), and blocking our normally scenic view of the neighboring strip center was a bulldozer – tearing up the parking lot.

The sound of the machine and the noise of destruction didn’t allow for conversation, but the action was entertaining to a crowd of kids who sat watching while slurping their sweet treats.

A simple inquiry revealed that Wendy’s would soon occupy this prime piece of real estate on Farm Road 51 South.

I’ll admit; my initial reaction was elation.

Lame, but true.

The promise of a locally-obtained, spicy chicken sandwich, was exciting.

But after a few days, when my Frosty daydreams melted, I realized Decatur doesn’t need another fast-food restaurant.

Despite my love of a No. 6, perhaps we’re due an eating establishment without a drive-through.

A place where you order entrees by name, not number.

There are some restaurants in town that aren’t technically “fast food,” but they fall into that category, as defined by me, because of the way you’re shuffled in and hurried out.

While the food is pretty good, the atmosphere is not, so we often order takeout and enjoy our meal at home.

There are a couple of places in the county that we frequent for a special occasion, but a celebratory dinner often means crossing the county line.

I want a restaurant where you can actually spend time with friends, enjoying good food and leisurely conversation.

A place without a playground.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand there is a time and place for fast food. I enjoy a French fry as much as the next person, and if allowed, my kids would choose every meal based on the included trinket.

I’m not going to boycott Wendy’s. I wasn’t kidding about the spicy chicken sandwich.

But I’ll let the crowds subside first.

Like every other fast-food establishment that opens in our town, it will be a nightmare for at least six weeks.

People will flock to the restaurant as if they’ve never seen Wendy’s trademark square hamburger or been given the choice between white or chocolate milk.

But in the meantime, let’s dream big – and for the future – think beyond kids’ meals and super sizes.

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