We don't really talk about it much here on this infernal blog, but there's a huge debate raging in downtown SanTana about the continued gentrification of the area. I definitely have my issues with this from the news perspective, but for food purposes, I only care about, well, the food: what's opening, and whether what's opening is any good. That said, we call out pendejos here when they're, well, pendejos, whether in the realm of food or not.
One of those newbies is Chapter One: the modern local, which we've reviewed positively in these pages. Their food is fine, but it turns out one of the owners, Tim O'Conner, is a full-fledged pendejo who, despite being in the area for less than a year, thinks he can give business advice to the Latino entrepreneurs getting driven out of Fourth Street.
The occasion for O'Conner's stupidity was the public comments section of the August 24 SanTana City Council meeting, and the issue at hand was whether Downtown Inc., the group of some landlords that has levied a tax on most of the landlords in downtown SanTana, could continue to do so. It seems most of the landlords don't want it, but many of the non-Mexican restaurants in the area, like Weekly faves Memphis and the Crosby, are for it, arguing that tax allows Downtown, Inc. to better promote the area and have security.
Intelligent minds can disagree on this issue, of course. All of Chapter One's three owners spoke in favor of the tax, claiming it has done wonders for the restaurant. But it was only O'Conner who made it a point to needle the area's many quinceañera shops, which has annoyed the area's Brave New Urbanists for years, acting as a sort of ruffled, bejeweled broken window to the hipster enclave they so desire.
"This is specifically for most of the stuff on Fourth Street," O'Conner remarked, even though he was addressing the City Council and not a Chamber of Commerce meeting. "You can't have the same shop, the same stores, the same exact same quinceanera shop across from the exact same quinceañera shop...exact same thing over and over again and expect to be successful. Times have changed. Fourth Street should change with those times."
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Why gracias, Great White Father, for that sage advice. Last I heard, Mexican birthrates in Orange County remain pretty high, and the quinceañera industry is actually booming--not that you care about anyone else in SanTana except your patrons, which probably ain't going to include wabs because why should they buy high-priced meals when they can chow down cheaper and better at Tacos y Mulitas Ruben nearby?
More importantly, why do those quinceañera shops bother you so, Tim? They serve a different clientele than Chapter One does, and frankly, there are many more people interested in quinceañeras and baptisms than Chapter One's concept. Taking your train of thought, what you criticize as bad is exactly what's happening in the downtown area. For all the supposed claims that the area is changing, the only businesses opening are restaurants that are eating into each others' business. You can't have the exact same thing over and over again and expect to be successful, Tim--only consumers can decide that, and consumers have decided they want many quinceañera shops on la Cuatro.
But hey: if there's one good thing to come out from this, it's that I have a further excuse to direct people to Memphis and the Crosby.