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Physical Distance vs. Emotional Distance

March 26, 2018

Hopefully you were able to take advantage of Yelp Restaurant Week, because now it’s over.

Saratoga Springs had just come off a restaurant week, Colonie was running its restaurant week promotion at the same time, and Lark Street Restaurant Week is right around the corner. As a result, most of the participants for the Yelp promotion were in Schenectady and Troy.

In an attempt to eat at as many places as possible, I put a lot of miles on the car. Not to mention a lot of calories in my body. As fun as it was to save 30% off my food bill at local restaurants, I’m glad it’s over.

Now I can go back to eating at home. To celebrate, yesterday I made a double batch of Cuban black beans. That’s four pounds of dried beans. Now we have quarts and quarts of the stuff. The kids are thrilled. And even though Passover is looming at the end of this week, since we now eat kitniyot, beans and rice might get us through the holiday. More on that later.

Whenever I go through some kind of trial by eating, I typically come out with a learning or two. The one I want to share today is about perceptions versus reality.

The way we think about things is no joke. It’s important, because our thoughts can shape our actions. And that’s true regardless of whether or not our thoughts are actually correct. People think that Starbucks coffee is more expensive than Dunkin’ Donuts. But it’s just not true. At both places, you can get a brewed coffee for about two bucks.

Sure, most of the Starbucks coffee is burnt and tastes like drinking an ashtray, however the Dunkin Donuts coffee is just thin, acrid, and undrinkable without unholy quantities of milk and sugar. At least Starbucks has a blonde roast that’s a little bit better, and you can get free refills using the Starbucks app, plus use their fast and reliable wifi for hours.

But I digress. We were talking about perceptions.

Part of the point of Yelp Restaurant Week and other similar promotions is to try and get new customers in the door, or to bring back lapsed customers who haven’t returned in a while.

Last week was my very first visit to Dave’s Gourmet Burgers and More in Schenectady. I’ve been wanting to try chef Dave’s stuff since he opened his first burger shop on Delaware Avenue. It was also only the second time I’ve been to The Hill at Muza in Troy. It’s been well over a year since my last visit, and probably closer to two.

Both of these places are off the beaten path.

Dave’s is up Broadway south of Schenectady on the way up to Mont Pleasant. The Hill at Muza is just up Congress Street from downtown Troy, a little past RPI.

Here’s the funny part. If you look at a map, these places may seem removed from their downtown hubs. But if you’re driving—and in the Capital Region you are most certainly driving—they are no further away than a business in the center of town.

Thank you highways. Thank you Google Maps. It’s kind of amazing.

The hardest part is adjusting your thinking to include these businesses on the outer edge of their cities to your consideration set when heading out in those general directions.

While I didn’t get the Juicy Lucy at Dave’s, my dining companion did, and I had serious burger envy. I’m going to need to go back for that. Plus, I really want to try his pakora burger. The Hill at Muza has enchanted me with its Disco Balls and Fried Cheese Sandwich. But the Saturday happy hour that starts at noon is also mighty tempting.

I would be remiss if I didn’t say that this argument extends to the act of considering other cities around the Capital Region as reasonable destinations for lunch and dinner. For some people, Schenectady and Troy may feel like the edge of the earth. It wasn’t too long ago when Mr. Dave was reluctant to cross the rivers. Apparently in his old age, this position is softening.

But the trip to Troy isn’t meaningfully longer than the trip across town. The same goes for the drive out to Schenectady. Thank you highways. Again. Or maybe I should be cursing Albany city stop lights.

Whatever the case, the emotional distance between you and many of the delicious things in the Capital Region, may be greater than their actual physical distance. Keep an eye out for that, and be careful about being limited by your preconceptions.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Phairhead permalink
    March 27, 2018 7:45 am

    The Juicy Lucy is one of my faves on Dave’s menu. BTW, Dave’s is in Mont Pleasant on the edge of Rotterdam. Sorry for being a picky pants but I am a proud Schenectadian :D

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