Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Foodies get their due, in new urban study

Foodies around the N.C. Piedmont visit downtown Shelby, for Alston Bridges Barbecue. Photo: Nancy Pierce
Foodies can take a bow. A new report released by Sasaki Associates says it found that 82 percent of city-dwellers appreciate their city’s culinary offerings, reports Anthony Flint for Almost half the respondents said a new restaurant is the top reason they'd explore different parts of their city. And the majority said they consider food and restaurants the most outstanding aspect of cities they love to visit.

Sasaki is a Boston-area architecture, planning and design firm. Its report was a survey of 1,000 people who live and work in Boston, Chicago, New York, Austin, San Francisco, and Washington. They were asked what they like and don’t like about the area where they live in terms of architecture, activities, parks and open space, and transportation.

Architects might not want to read this next paragraph:

When asked what kinds of buildings people admire as they’re walking down a downtown street, 57 percent said they stop to admire buildings that are historic. Only 19 percent admire buildings that are modern. And in a rebuff to the mine-is-bigger-than-yours tower developers, just 15 percent said they admire the tallest buildings. In addition, 54 percent of respondents said they agreed the city should invest in renovating historical buildings as a way to improve their city’s architectural character. Only 22 percent “would like more unusual architecture (get Frank Gehry on the phone!)” and only 17 percent said they’d like to see more skyscrapers and iconic buildings.

East Charlotte offers many ethnic options.
And Charlotte's stadium- and arena- and ballpark-besotted uptown boosters might be interested in this:  
When asked what would make them want to visit a new part of their city, participants overwhelmingly (46 percent) said “a new restaurant.” Just 16 percent said they would do so for a sports event.

Coincidentally, I've been having an email exchange with Nancy Plummer, one of the founders of the now-venerable Taste of the World festival in east Charlotte. You buy a ticket, board a bus and visit three or four of the ethnic eateries in and near Central Avenue. Next one is Oct. 2. To learn more, click here. Plummer and her colleagues on the Eastland Area Strategies Team founded the event in 2005, a time when many local residents were worried about the influx of immigrants into neighborhoods in east Charlotte, among other areas. To counteract the fears, Plummer and others decided to use food as a way to bring visitors to their part of the city. It worked remarkably well. The most recent tour sold out in 14 days.

People, cities and food. It must be a good recipe.