Thursday, January 21, 2016

Red Light District

Last night, before it began to snow--around dinner time--we considered the possibility of going to the grocery. For about two seconds. Social media was filled with horror stories and accompanying photos of panic at the supermarket. In the face of such craziness we shrank back and decided to punt.

We went to Burger King.

I'd say we probably go to Burger King no more than four times a year. McDonald's and Wendy's are closer to where we live, for one, and we try to limit fast food trips overall. Since the BK on Centre Park Drive closed (no surprise) the only one left is on Snowden River Parkway, in a little strip mall/shopping center with no discernable name.

I've never been convinced by this particular shopping center. I'm guessing it's located in the Land of Outparcel, but wiser folks than I know the boundaries here. It just feels sketchy. Last night, as we approached from Snowden, was no different. The various shops with their red light-up lettering looked less than welcoming. Some of those lights were out. It looked like the sit-down part of the Pizza Hut had closed.

I felt like we had suddenly entered The Wrong Part of Town.

In contrast, the Burger King itself has recently been remodeled and looks great inside. Although it wasn't packed, there were certainly a steady flow of customers during the time we were there. And as a side note, BK is now offering chili dogs. Has anyone tried them yet? They are a guilty pleasure of mine but not sure I should trust a fast food incarnation.

Snowden River Parkway has been transformed by recent construction, and has also been the inspiration for local legal wrangling. We noted a new shopping center with a Jimmy Johns, and a sign for the new Grotto Pizza. All the newer businesses are closer to the road and easy to see. The old Burger King shopping center is set back from the road and follows that Columbia "joy of discovery" model. I wonder how that will all play out?

There must have been a time when that shopping center was bright and shiny and new. The look that I now find worn and dated must have been sleek and cutting-edge once, right? I don't know. That's before my time. But I do think it could use a face lift. If the owners of the center want people to be willing to turn their attention from the businesses closer to the road, then they will need to give them a reason to come over, and to keep coming back.





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