Savage’s world famous Dan Patch Days starts today and features a variety of family friendly events for all ages. One of their events, which takes place on Saturday beginning at 4 PM is the Taste of Savage. Unfortunately, as is usually the case with these events, it’s dominated by chains and has strange rules and regulations which makes it difficult to attract decent restaurants and thus crowds of enthusiastic patrons to the respective businesses which should be profiled.
According to the Dan Patch Days website, there were 18 available spots for the 2009 Taste of Savage but as the Savage Pacer article above states, there were only 16 spots taken by area businesses, 12 of which are local or national chains. As I mentioned above, this type of setup seems to plague every “Taste Of” event in the South Metro with both the Taste of Lakeville and the Bite of Burnsville events being dominated by chain restaurants, some of which weren’t even from the respective event’s city! Why is that? Is it because the small local places aren’t interested in attending the event and building a local name for themselves or is it because the rules and regulations make it difficult for those interested in attending to do so?
Let’s take Lakeville and Savage’s most recent events to look into this a bit:
1. Lakeville’s most recent event required that those who attended be 21 years of age or greater due to the alcohol component. While many local restaurants in Lakeville serve alcohol, it’s not as if they deny entry to those that are underage to come through their doors. I don’t have children but from what I understand the endless nagging that is generated due to children tugging at the shorts of their parents to get their way has a lot to do with many family’s dining choices. Why limit the number of people who are exposed to an event by discriminating on age? Yeah, they had a laundry list of alcohol vendors at the event to attempt and bury the astonishing number of national chains but why they couldn’t make a beer garden and be done with it I’ll never know.
2. Lakeville had a cost prohibitive entry fee. $30 in advance or $35 at the door. I don’t know about you but I’m not terribly interested in paying $30+ to eat samples of pancakes from Perkins or pre-made lunch items from Rainbow.
3. Savage gave priority to those who were a member of the Chamber of Commerce:
For 2009, the Taste of Savage will be offered FIRST and FOREMOST to restaurants that are current Chamber of Commerce members. Only 18 restaurants can participate! Chamber members will receive a discount entrance fee– $100 vs. $150 for any non-members accepted to participate. Chamber membership investments start at only $240.
So for those smaller businesses that may not have the finances available to join or the desire, they may feel uncomfortable signing up and/or are locked out of this event. Seems to give quite an unfair advantage to the national chains and more established businesses rather than the newer/mom and pop operations. This is not supposed to be an advertisement for the Savage Chamber of Commerce, it’s supposed to be advertising for local businesses which help to make everyone else in town survive!
I think that this is yet another reason why chain restaurants are favored more heavily over the mom and pop shops in our area. Not only do these places have the national marketing but they also have greater support and preferential treatment from the local chambers as well which gives them a much larger local audience at a higher cost than may be affordable in a difficult market.
What do you think about the local taste of events and how they operate? Do you believe that something else should be done to better promote local business success so we don’t end up with more locally owned businesses heading down the drain like so many others have? Whatever you think go ahead and comment on!