It began as many things of this nature do, with a rumor. A rumor that (*gasp*) we were getting a new fast food joint. For longtime residents, rumor alone wasn’t enough to even get our fans whirring. Rumors of new places to eat and shop crop up like spring grass and so we tend to listen with half an ear and a heapin’ helpin’ of skepticism. This time however, the town was soon abuzz with news that a prime spot right next to Walmart was being cleared off, cleaned up and made ready for the fabled eatery. “Oh wow,” I thought, “Has my facebook campaign to bring Chick-Fil-A to town actually worked?!” Alas no, but I’m sure you know by now what we did get. Whataburger. Or as I called it for the two weeks after it opened: Whackaburger. Because people went whackadoo over the place. The lines were crazy, the whole south end of town was a snarl of traffic and burgers were being distributed with the help of walkie-talkies and blaze orange safety vests. Burgerpocalypse, people!
The entrance of Whataburger on the scene was, for me, a mixed bag of reactions. Elation that we were getting something new. Amusement at how nutty with excitement the townsfolk went. But mostly I felt a little sad for my town. Sad that something as small as a new chain restaurant would cause such a big uproar. I kept feeling like Oliver Twist, “Please sir, we want some more.” So what’s up with our town that we can’t seem to bring in big names and new blood? Goodness knows we don’t need another McDonalds, or Subway, or Sonic. I think it’s safe to say they’ve gained their market share of Claremore. So where IS Chick-Fil-A? Where is Wendy’s, for crying out loud?! I can just hear folks at home right now…”Wendy’s? Well, we USED to have one….” Folks, USED TO doesn’t get me a small chili and a frosty!
I think it’s necessary to ask these kind of questions. What is Claremore doing, or not doing, to encourage new and exciting places to build in our town? Is property too expensive? Are permits too hard to get? Why have three different development companies (to my knowledge) been pushing dirt around over by Lowe’s for nine years and not accomplished much besides Utica Park? Folks, we live in a great town, full of wonderful people. And when half the town has a mindfreak over something like Whataburger, it’s time to ask why. Someone out there knows the whys and why-nots, but it sure isn’t a layman like me. And 99% of our residents are in the same gravy boat with me.
I know, I know. Whataburger is far from five-star culinary excellence (although I find their fare generally pretty tasty). A generous portion of our citizenry weren’t impressed by their orange and white stripes breaking up the cityscape. To those folks I say, don’t object based on your taste buds. Be glad our town got something new, and hope it’s not a long wait for the next one. And if the next one IS a Wendy’s, you can bet your last dollar I’ll be there, accepting my small chili from a kid in a blaze orange vest who took my order via walkie-talkie.
by Julie Jones