On Thursday morning we made our annual visit to Chili John's Cafe in downtown Beaver Dam. I've written about this local institution before so let me just say that it's been in continuous operation since 1920 -- certainly the longest continuous running restaurant in Beaver Dam. It's one of those places that, for me, if it ceased to exist I'd consider the world slightly off-kilter... something just wouldn't be right. Chris Stavropolus, the grand-son of the founder, is the current owner and operator. Much of the time it's a one-man operation -- he cooks, waits tables, does dishes, everything! Our group of 7 enjoyed the ambiance and Chris's efficient movements as he danced from grill to counter to fridge to table and back. It was tough to get him to stand still long enough to get a picture.
Oh, and that's Chris's big Indian motorcycle out front. After breakfast Dar and I strolled through downtown Beaver Dam. Like many small towns in the USA, it's been decimated by the advance of progress, affluence, and the success of free-enterprise. These small multi-storied buildings just don't work economically any more -- they're too small and too cut-up to compete with the huge one-level big box stores that offer an unimaginable range of selection and choices. Thus, they become tattoo parlors, real estate offices, antique shops, martial arts studios, and swinging-door business incubators with a low success rate. It's easy to feel saddened by it all, but it is what it is. Evolution has an ugly side in nature (the death of individuals that can't adapt) and it has an ugly side in our society's economic system too.
That's the news from our little town today.