Eat local to spur exponential growth downtown

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This is the season of family gatherings and parties with friends. With the New Year coming, we will all have new dreams, hopes and challenges.

Too often this opinion page is an endless battle between people who will never agree, so it becomes this ping-pong game of opinions that do very little for your own city. So walking every day and night with my German shepherd Nealah, I thought that it would be good to try something else in 2019.

If we take a number of roughly 30,000 adults in our county, both people who live here or commuters like many at BB&T who work here and we asked them to eat TWICE A YEAR in each of the four eateries we have as of now in our historic downtown — by alphabetical order: Bill’s Grill, Da Bayou, SaYum and Tig’s Courtyard — that would come up to eight meals each year or once every 45 days, an easy task.

The total number of meals would be 240,000, or 60,000 meals for each restaurant owner on a yearly basis. That would guarantee them 1,200 customers each week of the year.

If we take an average price of $10 to $11 per meal — some may order soup, others will have shrimp and wine — you would pump almost $ 2 ½ million in your Historic Downtown Wilson community by just eating in downtown once every 45 days.

If all of you would decide to eat there once every 20 days — still doable — you would pump more than $5 million into this downtown that you all desire. What is stopping you?

Before the end of 2019, many more chefs and entrepreneurs would snap up the last few buildings left and finally we would get that Thai restaurant on Nash Street or this famous chef from France where you would enjoy that romantic dinner with your spouse like if we were back in the ‘40s when our city was as vibrant as any other city in this country.

This is all it would take — a visit every 45 days to your historic downtown.

And after your meal, you would enjoy a local beer, both the Downtown Public House and 217 Brew Works are fantastic venues to hang around to relax. I could do the calculation all over again for just three beers a year, but you get my point by now.

As the ultimate challenge with this letter: Why not give it a try for a year — only eight visits — and we will write again to each other in December 2019 for the new year?

Don’t you want to eat a Pad Thai chicken or un Potage aux Poireaux à la Crème before heading to an unforgettable jam session in the heart of your city?

This is all it would take. It is that simple.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Jerome De Perlinghi


Editor’s Note:  This letter was originally published on Dec. 26 and is the month of December’s nominee for the Elizabeth Swindell Award for local commentary. Swindell Award winners and monthly nominees are selected by the Times and republished to note the recognition.