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The FUSSYlittleBALLOT: A Eulogy

March 21, 2016

This blog taught me something interesting about democracy. If you don’t like the results of an election, the secret to a better outcome may not be campaigning harder for your candidates, but rather changing the rules of the game.

Who here among you remembers the FUSSYlittleBALLOT?

When I first arrived to the Capital Region I was disheartened by the Best of the Capital Region polls. Especially the one from the Albany Times Union, which listed Subway’s sandwiches and Pizza Hut’s pizza among the region’s best things to eat. Disheartened is probably putting it mildly.

So I started an elaborate campaign for a slate of excellent local businesses. And that went okay in the first year. But what really changed the game was my open letter to the Times Union. It made a compelling case that this poll should be about local businesses and not chains. And eventually, the paper came around. First with requiring voters to select a single location, which eliminated the relative advantage held by the chains. And later, the paper would also break up categories so that Chinese restaurants didn’t share the same category as Japanese restaurants.

It’s been about three years since my last coordinated campaign, and last year’s results were the best I’ve ever seen. So the days of the FUSSYlittleBALLOT are officially over. That said, the Times Union has opened up its poll for 2016, and a couple of the questions inspired some unexpectedly strong feelings.

What makes this different from the past is that I’m not asking you to vote for anything. Okay. That’s a lie. I’m going to ask you to vote for one thing at the very very end.

Really, I don’t have to tell you my picks on most of these categories, because I’ve now got the #518 Recos on the top of the blog which covers my ongoing thoughts on what’s best in the region.

However, last year both The Memphis King and Stacks Espresso were totally jilted by TU readers.

If you haven’t been to The Memphis King for barbecue, you are missing out. Last year’s TU poll had seven top barbecue places. None of them were The Memphis King. Hopefully word has gotten out this year that they are the game to beat in this town.

How Stacks Espresso didn’t make the list of six different coffee shops last year is a mystery to me. I’m blaming its relatively small footprint and Lark Street location. That stretch of Albany just isn’t the draw it used to be, but all the same, there is good stuff happening down there. And Stacks is not just a vital part of the neighborhood, but also hands down the best dedicated coffee shop in the region. Superior Merchandise Company is also amazing, but a “coffee shop” it isn’t. It’s a boutique that just happens to sell some of the best coffee in the area.

Best Bar for Singles? DiCarlo’s is full of singles. Okay, sure, there may be some couples who go there. But mostly, it’s singles. Probably more than any other bar in the area, I’d reckon. I don’t think that’s a matter of opinion, but rather a provable fact.

Best Chain Restaurant? Part of me wants to say McDonald’s, because part of what makes chains great is their ability to make the same thing taste the same regardless of where you are. And for that, I can think of no better example. Except the answer to this question is clearly Shake Shack. Even the chain-adverse residents of downtown Troy would likely flip their lids in joy if a Shake Shack wanted to open a Monument Square location.

The rest is really just a bunch of shout outs to my friends:

Best Radio Personality: Laura Glazer (of Hello Pretty City)
Best Radio Station: WEXT
Best Local Tweeter: @RidiculousFood (the one and only Mr. Dave)
Best Local YouTuber: Kate Welshofer (No Teleprompter No Mercy)

But if you only vote for one category…
Last year I came in fourth for best local blogger. I wouldn’t say it’s a goal or a dream to crack the top three, but it would kind of amazing.

For those compelled to support either the jilted local businesses or my other local media pals, the link to the survey is here. Or if you’re old fashioned and want to copy and paste the link, here’s the full text:

I would encourage you to fill it out. Obviously you have good taste. Not everyone does. But more important than filling out the survey is actually getting down to Stacks or Memphis King if you haven’t yet done so yet.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 21, 2016 10:15 am

    Ha! You are playing a dangerous game recommending me. If by some miracle I got that top spot, I would deal with the influx of followers by tweeting wildly inappropriate nonsense… Don’t you remember my history of attempted subversion of the TU polls? #VoteKurgerBingForAllCategories

  2. March 21, 2016 10:28 pm

    The only reason I go to the track is to get my Shake Shack fix. It’s worth the price of admission just for a Shack burger and a shake (or a concrete).

    I will miss your ballot round up, but am heartened that the bar has been raised…

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