In the Face of Crushing Legislation ... Shop Local

There are plenty of great wonderful restaurants as well as cozy, comfortable, wonderful little eateries in all the towns in the Bayshore, certainly in Middletown and as far west as Freehold as well. We each have our favorites, and the local folks who own them work hard to make a living and keep their places the wonderful dining establishments they are. But they all must be struggling to meet the ever rising, ever challenging job of keeping their little business up to the tasks of a world that doesn’t seem to want these little businesses but rather endorses the big box places, the chain stores owned by stockholders, the good but not as friendly or down-home as what we in the Bayshore know and love.


I think if each of us really wants to keep our small communities, our favorite coffee shops, our to-go breakfast and lunch spaces, we should do something big to mark the latest attack on mom and pop businesses throughout the nation.

Even before this newest ban from the government, the one on plastic bags, takes effect next month, and then every day thereafter, we should stop at our favorite eatery owned by friends, relatives or neighbors, and at least have a cup of coffee. Or a sandwich. Every bit will help ... And leave a tip.

The problem is, with food prices going up on a daily basis, little businesses are struggling more than ever, and have to raise their prices, pennies or dollars, just to break even. But there are so many hidden costs as well and those are going up even higher. So the price of a sandwich, or a breakfast has to be raised as well just for the hidden costs.

Take take-out for example. Doesn’t make any difference how many plastic bags a place has, they all have to be disposed of…properly of course…by the first week of May. No longer will you get your two sandwiches or two or three packages of food in a handy plastic bag. Now the store owners have to supply yet a different kind of bag. Remember when they started having us use plastic to save a tree? Isn’t it ironic we were forced into using all the plastic, now we’ll be forced into not using it.

Then there’s the Styrofoam stuff, though much of that has already been banned. So restaurants have to struggle, pay higher prices and find more substitutes for those who order take out, or only eat half their meal in and want to take home the rest.

Or you order a couple of hot subs. You don’t want them cold by the time you get them home. Smart restaurateurs have found a great substitute for those Styrofoam boxes that kept the heat in. The Girls Café in Highlands has a great paper product, one that’s insulated and easy to wrap, so they can manage that. But here again, it’s a lot more expensive than plain paper and the plastic bag.

Aluminum containers for more substantial foods are still permitted, but of course, the cost of all of them has risen as well. And sometime in the future we’ll be ordered to stop using these as well.

So lots of places are back to cardboard, cardboard boxes, cardboard containers, sturdy packaging for all kinds of takeout. There are also cardboard plates and the classier, more expensive ones even have a coating on the food side so they don’t feel or look so much like dull flat cardboard. But they aren’t cheap either.

Straws are still in, but you have to ask to get one. So don’t ask, if you don’t really need a straw in the first place. Wasn’t it Ben Franklin who talked about the value of a penny?

There are plenty of great wonderful restaurants as well as cozy, comfortable, wonderful little eateries in all the towns in the Bayshore, certainly in Middletown and as far west as Freehold as well. We each have our favorites, and the local folks who own them work hard to make a living and keep their places the wonderful dining establishments they are. But they all must be struggling to meet the ever rising, ever challenging job of keeping their little business up to the tasks of a world that doesn’t seem to want these little businesses but rather endorses the big box places, the chain stores owned by stockholders, the good but not as friendly or downhome as what we in the Bayshore know and love.

If you’re old enough, you can remember brown paper bags taking your lunch to school, or brown bags at the grocery store. You can remember waxed papers to keep your sandwiches fresh. They’re still here, still useful, and you’ll probably see them all popping up in these little cafes and restaurants for takeout. And now of course they are more expensive. But they’re still good for the environment and do the job.


So stop in your favorite little place this week. Get a sandwich or an English muffin, order a sub to go or stay for waffles or French toast. But support that little place you love so much…..and pay the extra few cents they need to charge in order to stay open and serve you.

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