Arizona Governor Jan Brewer recently announced the launch of the Dine 4 AZ campaign, urging Arizonans to frequent restaurants more often to help out in our troubled economic times. This is a commendable step, yet a few facts are missing from the campaign: if you cart off your family to the nearest fast food chain for every meal, a lot of that money spent will go right down the ball pit as far as Arizona is concerned (not to mention to the health factors!). This same logic goes for most national chains. Here is a Civic Economics study from 2002 (skip to the graphs if you're pressed for time, but I recommend a full perusal). The list of restaurants on the Dine 4 AZ website is compiled of locally-owned businesses and the campaign is sponsored by Shamrock Foods (another local entity we're all familiar with) which is heartening to see! I feel as though the distinction between these restaurants and their beneficial contributions to local economy vs. the national chain restaurants that remove 85% of the money you spend there should be made clear. Not to mention that having another chain on the corner isn't exactly ground for bragging rights, adding nothing to the cultural uniqueness that we all look for in our state, cities, and neighborhoods.
While Gov. Brewer has made a necessary step, I feel that we as a community should make sure that it's in the right direction. By focusing our attention on locally-owned restaurants only, I don't believe that the field has been narrowed, far from it. It's time to look around and find those great places that may not have garnered our attention in the past for lack of national branding; take a chance on one of the many restaurants that has staked a claim in our state, serving up original creations and putting your money right back in your local economy. The Dine 4 AZ list, while a great start, is by no means the end of the road. Here are a few more local spots worth cleaning your fork for.
And if you're ever in doubt whether a business is locally-owned (restaurant or otherwise), look for this in the window: