My daughter stuck a (figurative) knife in my heart today. Well, make that in my stomach.
I'd just finished five miles of longboard land paddling at Minto Brown Island Park here in Salem, Oregon. I was pleasantly tired. Also, not-so-pleasantly hungry.
Checking my iPhone, I saw that Celeste, who lives in Studio City, California, had sent me a text message. We've been talking about us coming down for a visit.
Guess she wanted to entice me and my wife, health-conscious vegetarians that we are.
Just discovered a new veggie restaurant in the valley you guys will love!
I asked what the name of it was. She sent a link to the Sun Cafe web site.
Geez. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, like this anywhere in Salem. Not one single freaking restaurant here, so far as I know, even has menu selections like Sun Cafe. Check out the tantalizing menu.
(If you're a habitual non-organic meat-eater, you won't be tantalized.)
Oregonians like to feel superior to southern California.
But from our considerable experience with being taken out to eat by my daughter when we visit, she and her husband not being avid cooks, and my granddaughter being a bit too young to prepare meals at the age of five, I can say that most locales in Oregon are way inferior to southern California when it comes to healthy tasty vegetarian eating.
I can't tell you how many times we've gone to a organic vegan/vegetarian restaurant down there which is absolutely packed with people of all ages, most of them looking decidedly fitter and trimmer than supposedly more outdoorsy Oregonians.
They aren't afraid of kale. Or whole wheat tortillas. Or creative food combinations that would make most people in Salem rush to a Subway sandwich.
I sincerely, if perhaps optimistically, believe that a restaurant like Sun Cafe could succeed here in sleepy Salem.
Heck, there's well over 150,000 people in the area. Not all of them consider Olive Garden to be great Italian food. Many are looking for something creatively different.
Some months back I heard about a Laughing Planet restaurant opening in the Portland area. That depressed me just like my daughter's text message did. I sent this email to the Laughing Planet folks.
Have never heard back from them. Unfortunately, they probably know too much about Salem taste buds.
Emergency! Help! Salemites in distress!
We need you here in Salem! There are lots of health-minded, unique-food loving people like my wife and me here. But Salem has imprisoned us in an "Organic? Healthy? Suck it." zone.
You zipped right by Salem on your way to expand in Corvallis and Eugene. Need directions? I'd be glad to direct you to some choice empty storefronts downtown, or in south Salem, where the cool people (like us) live.
Seriously... Consider Salem. We got a Trader Joe's last year. TJ must do a lot of marketing research before deciding to open a store. Salem is changing from "So-Lame," albeit slowly. There's a hunger, both metaphorical and literal, for a restaurant that isn't more of the same.
I can't guarantee you success. Well, I can, if you promise to come to Salem. (I just won't sign the guarantee.) Your menu reminds me of a mix of Native Foods and Cafe Yumm, both of which my wife and I love. There are many other people like us in Salem, starving for a Laughing Planet.
Bring us a smile.