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Local restaurants need your place at the table

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With so many dining options around San Marcos for locals and Bobcats to dine with, picking a place for lunch may not always be an easy choice. But when deciding where to spend your money when the hunger sets in, San Martians should make a considerate effort to eat locally.

Balancing a full course load, a part-time job and extracurriculars can leave very little time for anything other than fast food. But if time permits it, making the choice to dine with small business restaurants owned and operated by local community members will make San Marcos strong in the long term.

When you spend your money at a national chain of restaurants, you are definitely getting what you expect in terms of food quality, selection and atmosphere. It is usually the safer bet and when money is tight, taking chances while your stomach is on the line can be daunting.

But money spent at these restaurant chains will only be funneled into a corporate entity who does not necessarily care if local diners are forming a relationship with the owner or if San Marcos has a healthy variety of establishments to choose from.

When kitchens and passions intersect, nothing is more potent than the local restaurant. The local restaurant is a testament to the American Dream. It’s a risk a savvy individual takes on because of their faith in the community. It is a chance that only succeeds if people come to the table and eat up.

According to studies conducted by University of Denver foodservice professor HG Parsa, nearly 60 percent of restaurants fail in the first three years. Common failures of small business restaurants include poor location and management, which is not the duty of the potential customer to remedy. But another huge killer of restaurants is faulty promotion.

Local restaurants often fail to attract visitors not because the food is subpar and the service is inattentive, but because their target demographic simply does not know they exist. Most small businesses already start with very little capital, which makes marketing a low priority while more immediate costs take precedent.

This is where an enthusiastic, supportive community can step in to help. When local residents make an effort to seek out new eating establishments in their community, they are giving the small businesses a chance at patronage they would not receive if every customer immediately went to a fast food joint when mealtime arrived.

Restaurants are also important centers of culture. According to Census data, immigrants own nearly 30 percent of restaurants and hotels in the U.S., which is twice the rate for all businesses overall. These are places for other cultures to share a little bit of themselves with others. Overall, this cultural exposure helps to bridge the gaps between one another while eating good food too.

This semester, students should make an effort to branch out and explore the local eatery options San Marcos has to offer. Invite your friends, bring your dates and suggest these places to your parents when they come to visit. Get to know the proprietors and their stories. Tell all your followers on social media about the hidden gems and keep returning as a customer if you enjoyed the experience.

This kind of support makes San Marcos strong and benefits everyone involved.

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