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Old 04-13-2012, 04:34 PM   #1
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Save small town America while traveling!

While driving back to NJ from Florida this week, we stopped at a nice campground in SC (exit 53 off I-95). While checking in, we asked the man behind the counter where there was a good place to eat. He quickly mentioned the Cracker Barrel and Shoney’s that we passed near the highway exit. When I asked him if there were any small local restaurants, he then said ‘You COULD drive into town but that’s 4 miles.’ I assured him that after driving 450 miles, another 4 was no big deal. He then said that on Washington St. in Waltersboro, SC, there was an ‘I-talian’ place and a grill place.

We decided on the ‘I-talian’ place which turned out to be Carmine’s Trattoria. The food was great, the service was great. With DW being of Italian descent, she is VERY discriminating when eating other people’s sauce. Her penne got the thumbs up. My lobster ravioli was excellent. The calamari was perfect. Food better than anything the highway exit chains could have provided.

However, downtown Waltersboro was pretty depressing. Clean but so many vacant storefronts. What was a vibrant town 20 or 30 years ago is now dying a slow death as everyone speeds by on the interstate that bypassed the town. As we travel around the country, we see this same ‘small town dying’ scenario repeated so many times.
So next time you stop for the night, ask around and explore the little towns that dot our American landscape. Be brave and venture away from the highway exit and pump some money directly into the local economy instead of the big box store or the chain restaurant. Washington won’t improve this economy but collectively, WE CAN!
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Old 04-13-2012, 04:40 PM   #2
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I too ask for the local Mom and Pop restaurants in the area and get the usual response, "Well, there's the Olive Garden, the Cracker Barrel, etc. Great food and product prices can come out of the local store owned by Mom and Pop.
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Old 04-13-2012, 05:59 PM   #3
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We always look for local places to eat and local produce stands, etc. I can go to the chains when I'm home.
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Old 04-13-2012, 06:06 PM   #4
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We prefer to travel the secondary roads whenever practical. Always fun to see real people doing real things and stopping at locally owned markets and attractions.

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Old 04-13-2012, 06:13 PM   #5
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While driving back to NJ from Florida this week, we stopped at a nice campground in SC (exit 53 off I-95). While checking in, we asked the man behind the counter where there was a good place to eat. He quickly mentioned the Cracker Barrel and Shoney’s that we passed near the highway exit. When I asked him if there were any small local restaurants, he then said ‘You COULD drive into town but that’s 4 miles.’ I assured him that after driving 450 miles, another 4 was no big deal. He then said that on Washington St. in Waltersboro, SC, there was an ‘I-talian’ place and a grill place.

We decided on the ‘I-talian’ place which turned out to be Carmine’s Trattoria. The food was great, the service was great. With DW being of Italian descent, she is VERY discriminating when eating other people’s sauce. Her penne got the thumbs up. My lobster ravioli was excellent. The calamari was perfect. Food better than anything the highway exit chains could have provided.

However, downtown Waltersboro was pretty depressing. Clean but so many vacant storefronts. What was a vibrant town 20 or 30 years ago is now dying a slow death as everyone speeds by on the interstate that bypassed the town. As we travel around the country, we see this same ‘small town dying’ scenario repeated so many times.
So next time you stop for the night, ask around and explore the little towns that dot our American landscape. Be brave and venture away from the highway exit and pump some money directly into the local economy instead of the big box store or the chain restaurant. Washington won’t improve this economy but collectively, WE CAN!
I will remember this on our next trip. We always have picked the chain restaurants (out of convenience, I guess) But nothing beats a good mom & pop meal at a good recommended restaurant.
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Old 04-13-2012, 06:45 PM   #6
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I have always found that trying the "local flaver" is great for some fine surprises at good prices. More friendly folks than in the big restaurants.
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Old 04-13-2012, 06:48 PM   #7
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We prefer to travel the secondary roads whenever practical. Always fun to see real people doing real things and stopping at locally owned markets and attractions.

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Old 04-13-2012, 07:42 PM   #8
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We both shop an eat at local business when ever we can, when traveling, and at home. Walmart is our store of last resort. Locals have been fighting a walmart for several years, but money talks and more hard working friends and business owners will end up closing their doors.
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Old 04-13-2012, 07:47 PM   #9
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We prefer to travel the secondary roads whenever practical. Always fun to see real people doing real things and stopping at locally owned markets and attractions.

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Old 04-13-2012, 08:10 PM   #10
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We have successfully used Yelp and TripAdvisor to find local restaurants in small towns across the country. We often look for those breakfast/lunch places that are typically only open from 7am-3pm, or something like that. By doing this we have eaten "kulbs" in Bemidji MN and "pasties" in Butte MT. We pride ourselves on virtually never eating at fast food places or chain restaurants. Long live small town America!
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Old 04-14-2012, 02:13 AM   #11
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We like to travel off the interstate as much as possible and eat at the local places. Sometimes we find great places or not.

I like to use the Dives, Diners & Drive Ins website. Many times they have a place within reasonable distance. For us that's less that 10-15 miles. Otherwise it's my cooking (wife says I look so macho in an apron), with the DW doing cleanup. (joke)

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Old 04-14-2012, 07:20 AM   #12
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We're in Brunswick, GA attending (and really enjoying) the Tiffin Rally. We heard some talk about a BarBQ place in the area. We went looking for it and after getting a little lost finally found it. A smallish plain white building alongside the road. We went in and were very surprised. It was also an "old time" butcher shop! Some of the nicest steaks and chops I've seen in years. The pulled pork was outstanding as well. Very glad we took the time.
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Old 04-22-2012, 02:10 PM   #13
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We always go for the Mom and Pop's and have had some wonderful meals all over the US. A good trick we use if near the county seat is to go into town and follow the men with suspenders (lawyers) and see where they eat. Usually good and cheap. Smart phone apps like "Places" will have the names and locations via GPS of all restaurants within a few miles of your present location.
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Old 04-22-2012, 02:39 PM   #14
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This is our way too. We have found some great places with really good food and friendly people. I think we used Denny's once only because we were too tired to look further. Peg's in Reno got me hooked on huevos rancheros.
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