Eating Local Binds Communities

Hometown restaurants cater to more than discerning palates

By Mandy Edwards

In Statesboro, we are proud of our growing number of thriving local restaurants and eateries. Whether you are getting a delicious cheese roll from Sugar Magnolia Bakery for breakfast or an unbelievably good cupcake from CAKE downtown, you know you’re getting something made from scratch.

If you’re taking that special someone out for a nice dinner, you cannot go wrong with GeeDa’s Table or 40 East Grill downtown. Of course the coffee game is strong in Statesboro as well, with several local coffee shops that are perfect meeting places. Three Tree Coffee Roasters, the Daily Grind or Cool Beanz Espresso Bar will get you your coffee (or tea!) fix for the day. We can’t forget the BBQ — a Southern staple! Stop in at Boyd’s or Vandy’s and be treated to some of Georgia’s best. Vandy’s, a Statesboro tradition since 1929, boasts one of only six open BBQ pits left in the state. We could go on, but when you come visit us, you can try them all!

Supporting local restaurants is as important as supporting local small businesses. In fact, local restaurants are small businesses just like the women’s boutique you shop at or the local university store where you buy your collegiate gear. The National Restaurant Association reports that nine out of 10 restaurants have fewer than 50 employees and that seven in 10 restaurants are single-unit operations. They are small, locally owned and locally run operations.

According to the Small Business Administration, about two-thirds of new businesses survive only two years, half will survive five years, and one-third will survive 10. How many restaurants have you eaten at in the past couple years that are now closed? The longer a company has been in business, the more likely it is to stay in business — it’s those first few years that are the hardest. That’s where community support is critical. If you want your favorite local haunts to be around many years from now, choose them over the popular national chains that don’t invest their monies back into your community.

When you eat local, you not only invest your money back into your local economy, you’re helping to support your friends and neighbors, and you’re probably eating fresher foods at restaurants that are using food from local farms and gardens.

Here’s an example of how a local restaurant can impact a community. In Statesboro, a long-standing establishment, RJ’s Grill, announced this past summer that it was closing due to the owner’s pending retirement. This restaurant has been a local staple since 1981 and has hosted numerous civic meetings and events over the years. The public outcry was immense, especially on social media. Statesboro was losing one of its biggest and oldest local restaurants. Its citizens came together to find a way to keep it from closing. In a town that loves and cherishes its local businesses, another local restaurant owner stepped up within a week and bought it, saving the landmark restaurant.

RJ’s Grill is an example of a thriving local restaurant that a town couldn’t bear to lose. When you dine local, you are helping to support a local, thriving economy. Join us in dining local when you travel, and not only when you visit Statesboro, but when you visit any of your destinations of choice.