Archive for the 'Lehigh Valley Living' Category

The Big Box Ballyhoo

This morning I was perusing my local paper (if you can call it that), The Morning Call, and felt a sinking disappointment that is hard to adequately explain.  The business beat reporter, Tyrone Richardson, devoted his entire weekly column to complaining about the lack of national chain restaurants in the Lehigh Valley.  He gives a brief mention to some local businesses that are okay in a pinch, according to him.  Now, look, I’m not saying I wouldn’t be overjoyed if Costco decided to open shop nearby, and I certainly understand why many people are clamoring for some of these national names.  But, I’m going to jump on the bandwagon that Jeff Pooley has been driving and give Tyrone a little back talk.

Tyrone, its not news that the Lehigh Valley isn’t a top destination for major retail chains, we’re not a major market.  What is news is that within my relatively-short lifetime, we in the Lehigh Valley lost our two biggest employers and somehow both Allentown and Bethlehem have managed to diversify their economies enough to not have a devastating loss of population.  As Tyrone mentions in his article, the Lehigh Valley is a growing region that attracts people from New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and elsewhere.  Both cities have abundant entrepreneurs who have literally led the way to this diversification, opening small businesses in the retail, service, manufacturing, and technology sectors that would make people in many parts of Ohio, Western New York, Michigan, etc double over with envy.  Its news that even in this hideous economy, many of these business owners are digging in and hanging on, while big name national chains like Quizno’s make their quick exits.  Its news that against all odds, new small businesses are opening, while big chains put the brakes on their expansion plans and decide to wait it out.  Just something to think about the next time you decide to devote 100% of your precious column inches to writing about big name retail and why there’s not more of it in the Lehigh Valley.

I’m preparing to leave this week for my annual vacation in Saratoga Springs, NY.  I could, and probably will have a whole separate post on the numerous reasons that this is my favorite town to spend time in, but the primary reason is the awesome power of its downtown – home to dozens of independently-owned restaurants, shops, bars, galleries, and cafes.  When I stroll down Broadway looking for Breakfast on Thursday morning, I know for sure that I’m not going to have any regrets that I can’t enjoy a Dunkin Donut.

North Whitehall: Prepare to never go anywhere again

WalMart is coming.  They have no intention of helping the township preserve any of its rural charm, calling efforts to improve the quality of that gray cinder-block facade “gingerbread.”  They also are brushing off the potential of a 21% increase in traffic on an already congested strip of 309, but the good news is that the company will be building a sidewalk on their block of route 309.  So, you know, when your car is stuck in a traffic jam, you will be able to safely park it in the middle of the road and walk on a paved sidwalk to get up the road.

For the record, I am almost universally in favor of sidewalks, but the idea of there being a sidewalk that runs the 2000 feet in front of WalMart and that’s it strikes me as sad more than anything else.

Sunday Brunch in the Rose Garden

This morning BD and I had brunch plans with Claudia and Dan.  As previously discussed, brunch is my favorite meal, and usually I look forward to eggs or waffles or something along those lines.  Our original plan was to hit up Syb’s deli, but when I got up this morning I knew it would be a gorgeous morning.  What better place to enjoy it than Allentown’s rose garden? Continue reading ‘Sunday Brunch in the Rose Garden’

Tonight I ate the valley’s best pizza!

I’ll keep this brief.  Tonight I went to see my grandmother, and she took me to dinner at a restaurant called Paese Mio.  She has been there before, and had hyped it up to a point that I didn’t really know what to expect.  The hype was true!   Continue reading ‘Tonight I ate the valley’s best pizza!’

in regards to eating out…

In his April 15th blog post, Frank Bruni writes, “Hold Tight to Your Favorites”

I have been thinking about it quite a bit lately.  After having been unemployed or undermployed for the better part of a year, I can safely say that I am a part of the strain on restaurants to meet their bottom lines.  I just don’t really go out to eat as much, and when I do, I don’t order appetizers or desserts usually, and my bill stays relatively low.

But as readers of this blog know, I *do* go out sometimes, and presumably when I have a disposable income, I’ll be returning to a multiple-times a month schedule of dining out, because as much as I love to cook – I also hate to cook ALL the time.  And when I go back to that, there are a handful of restaurants that I would like to still be there.  

The Aladdin on Union Boulevard in Allentown is one of them.  It would be an understatement to say that The Aladdin has been a big part of my life in terms of eating out.  I don’t think there existed a time in my life that my family did not eat food from “Eddie’s.”  I don’t know when my dad and Eddie Eunis struck up a friendship, but it was sometime before I was born, and as a result, as a child, I don’t believe more than a week or two went by that we did not either take out food or go eat in for dinner in their small but comfortable restaurant on 2nd Street – their family lived upstairs and the restaurant was on the first floor.  For my parents, who were trying to come to grips with their four year old (me) declaring “I don’t eat animals,” a restaurant serving vegetarian specialties such as hummus and falafel and arnabit must have been a godsend.

When Aladdin moved to their current location on Union Blvd, it took us quite some time to adjust to the new flashy decor and christmas lights in the ceiling, but the food remained delicious as ever.  Eddie passed away when I was a teenager, but his wife Violet picked up the business and she and her daughters have kept it going since then.

I met my dad and his girlfriend there tonight for dinner, and although it is never particularly long between visits, realized that it has been probably two months or so since I last had dinner there, and was reminded that as a customer, my role is not only to enjoy the delicious meal.  These days, we all have a finite number of dollars to spend on things like meals out.  In choosing which businesses get mine, I will definitely be considering the impact that each dollar has on the businesses and business owners I wish to support most.   Aladdin is one of them.  I’m not the first in the LV Blogosphere to blog about Aladdin, so I’ll spare you a long description of my meal.  Sarina over at Lehigh Lexicon also gave a shout out, and last month LVInsite wrote about a fulfilling Aladdin meal, as well.  The short version is:

delicious hummus, delicious salad, delicious smeed, delicious arnabit, delicious rice, delicious baklava.  (thanks dad)

So yeah, the point of this post is really twofold: 

One: Aladdin!  Go there!  

Two: whatever your favorite local restaurant is – go there.  Find a way to budget $20 to go on Friday night and get dinner.  Skip the drinks, skip the dessert – but give your business to the restaurants whose appetizers and drinks and desserts will make your tummy smile when your pockets aren’t so light.

Give me Liberty or Give me Beer

Actually, I’m not really much of a drinker, but when I do drink, I like specialty beers from small breweries such as Southern Tier.  The image above is for one of my very favorite beers, Pumpking.  They also make a great wheat beer called “Heavy Weizen.”  

I’m getting off track already…. This post is really about the Liberty Street Tavern, in Allentown’s west end.   Continue reading ‘Give me Liberty or Give me Beer’

What good fortune: Dinner at the Farmhouse

I must be doing something right, because tonight BD and I had an amazing dinner at The Farmhouse.  With the exception of a few top notch gourmet vegan restaurants in big cities, I often am reluctant to plunk down a big chunk of change for a meal because as vegetarians our options are often pathetic and insulting.  I’ve been to The Farmhouse before, so I knew that wouldn’t be the case, but was still surprised at how great our meal was.  Thanks to Rodney, the sous chef at The Farmhouse, and to Briana, our friend and Farmhouse waiter extraordinaire for accommodating our dietary restrictions.   Continue reading ‘What good fortune: Dinner at the Farmhouse’