Thursday, December 16, 2010

Another look at the Clazel

I said at the beginning of the semester that I was going to do a more focused piece on the Clazel. Well here it is, a combination of reporting and writing using a lot of the multimedia skills I've learned recently. I chose a theme that matches the Clazel's style, I hope it doesn't clash too much with our page design.

The Clazel is one of the most historic places in town. It has a lesser-known connection to Bowling Green State University, which is even stronger now that it's a bar. It even has a really cool "movie" theme to it in a lot of the design, and interesting early 20th-century style architecture. Even if you're not looking for a place to have a drink, check out the Clazel. Seeing the mix between classic and modern styles in the building alone makes it worth the trip. Don't leave Bowling Green without coming in here at least once..

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Woodland Mall: Shopping Center or Money Pit?

University students often refer to the Woodland Mall as the "small" because of its size and lack of major retailers to attract shoppers. There was a very popular Steve & Barry's clothing chain in one wing of the mall until it closed last year, taking with it many shoppers who brought business into the mall. Until we showed up one Saturday and found it completely packed with shoppers and dance show audience (which you'll see), we weren't sure this place ever got busy, aside from the folks who come to be able to walk for exercise in doors (mall walkers).

This audio slideshow was produced by both of us. Daniel and I both did reporting at the mall, with the photos being taken by myself. I captured and edited photos and produced the final product, while Daniel wrote the script and narrated the audio for this story. We hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Best (and almost only) Mexican Food in BG

El Zarape is located just east of campus on Wooster, which isn't the only thing that makes it especially "college friendly." However, this restaurant can be enjoyable for just about anyone, including the whole family.

Don't be confused, though, because El Zarape used to occupy a different location a bit further west. That building became another Mexican restaurant called Cinco de Mayo 5 when El Zarape moved down the road in June of 2008. Cinco de Mayo has a cheaper menu, but in my experience you usually get what you pay for, and I'll always choose El Zarape.

It has the feel of a family-run place with friendly service and a terrific menu that has to be made mostly from scratch. Every so often there's entertainment, usually mariachi bands, which aren't particularly my thing. As far as the food goes, I normally order a Fajita Burrito, but switch it up by alternating chicken and steak. The peppers and onions are excellent, and the platter comes with plenty of food, including beans and rice. If it doesn't sound like your thing, I'm not an authority on too many other items, but check out the link above. There's all kinds of combos and whatnot.

All these qualities of El Zarape aside, the thing they are most famous (or infamous) for is their margaritas. They're powerful enough to rival those of any of the out-of-town Mexican restaurants in Toledo, Perrysburg or Maumee, and come in many flavors. They'll even mix different kinds for you. There is also a pretty good selection of imported and domestic beers, and wine available as well. But come prepared, most likely with a designated driver, when you visit El Zarape to drink. You have been warned.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

BG=Bar Goers?

The student population of BGSU makes up a substantial portion of Bowling Green. If there's one thing college students have in common, it's a desire to party, and many do it downtown. BG is definitely a bar town. There's a dozen in the area covered by our map in the post below, and more spread across the city.

The place I go most often is probably Uptown/Downtown. This is misleading because I love Downtown but hate Uptown. I've only even gone upstairs a handful of times. I'm not into the dance scene usually present up there. But Downtown is much more laid back, and has a lot of tvs for my sports-watching pleasure. There are also some good weekly specials, including what I consider to be the best one in town. On Thursdays you can get cheap beers and Captain and Cokes, as well as any shot for $2. I think they take some of the top shelf stuff off the table, but it's a great chance to try different stuff for cheap or have a lot of your favorite. A buddy of mine has lost multiple jobs for missing work Friday morning after a night of Irish car bombs.

Another bar I frequent is Nate and Wally's Fish Bowl. There isn't too much that makes it a great place, but it's usually a good spot to get a drink rather than wade through crowds and wait in lines. Other than that, the best part is probably the namesake, a drink called a Fish Bowl. It's usually available in two flavors, and is served in a plastic fish bowl.

These are the bars I usually go to, but head downtown and check them out for yourself. Each has characteristics that makes it different from the others. Need some help? Check out Raising the Bar in BG. It's a blog that won't be updated, but it contains articles written by myself and other journalism students that classify the downtown bars. Cheers!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Downtown BG Bars

Below is a map of the various bars downtown Bowling Green has to offer. There are others in town, but this focuses on the downtown area, which is highlighted in orange. Click on each location to find out more, like contact information, websites and images. I took most of the pictures myself.

View BG Bars in a larger map

Sunday, November 14, 2010

09' National Small Business Awards

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I stumbled upon this earlier today. I didn't even know such an event took place. This is a segment from last years National Small Business Award ceremony. I wonder what this year's ceremony will be like.

A Small Business Narrative

Big D’s Ribs, a small business located in Sandusky, Oh has officially been a business for 18 years.  The owners of this business are Duane and Deborah Kay Williams.  They were married in 1977.  After they married it did not take long for them to realize they both had a knack for conjuring delectable combinations of food. 
Before they met each other, Duane graduated from a small village district in New London, Oh and transitioned into the industrial sector, working at factories.  Deborah graduated from a more urban district in Sandusky, Oh and transitioned to Bluffton College where she earned her degree in Business Administration.
Deborah’s formal education in business provided the couple with a reservoir of practical information for business efficiency.  Duane’s laid back yet attentive charisma contrasted perfectly with his wife’s sharp wit.  They went on to have three sons, and soon introduced their children to the family business. They purchased a booth, handmade out of 2 x 4’s and sold their product outside of grocery stores in Sandusky throughout the 1990’s.
The year is now 2010, and Duane and Deborah both hold jobs in the public sector.  Deborah serves as an elementary school instructor, while Duane works as a custodian.  Big D’s Ribs doesn’t serve food publicly, instead they are private caterers.  Although they have a clientele, their aspiration to live primarily off of their own private enterprise has not been substantiated.   This challenge is due primarily to one obstacle: Land, or the lack thereof.
There is a quote that says, “Luck prefers prepared men,” but luck is often impartial to ones preparation and oft prefers the privileged.
Land, is the uncommon denominator between people like the Williams family and a Berardi’s.  This dichotomy is tied to a political history of biased policy and discrimination which in turn thwarted many people’s opportunities.
With this question as a quasi-case study my question is: why is there so much vacant space around this country that could be occupied by bodies and businesses that are off limits, or purposefully highly priced?

Property Wars (not really)

The students of Bowling Green State University make up a good portion of the size of the city. Although they're not counted as part of the population unless they're permanent residents, students add a significant amount of money from out of town that allows Bowling Green to thrive, and it's no more apparent than in the market for rental properties.

The University prefers all students to make their living arrangements through the institution. Most of those who do so live in dormitories, or fraternity or sorority houses. Many students though, for a number of reasons, wish to live off campus from the beginning. I know I was no different.

BGSU's housing policy requires that students live on campus for their first two years at the University unless they meet one of several qualifications. Anyone can register as a commuting student and claim they will be living at home, as long as the student's parent(s) live within 50 miles of the university. Also, students who are a certain age do not fall under the policy, as well as any who are married. My first year, I intended to register as a commuter from my parents home and find my own place off campus, skirting BG's rule. My plans fell through, but I went through with that my second year.

Almost all the rental properties in Bowling Green are owned and operated by individuals or small businesses. Many people with roots in this community, my parents included, purchase properties to rent to college students or others for supplemental income. However, most are either owned or maintained by one of several rental agencies in town.

This can get confusing, because there's two with the name of Newlove. Newlove Realty and Newlove Rentals have red signs and a location on South Main Street, while John Newlove is on East Wooster and advertises its properties with yellow signs. The companies are ran by two brothers with long standing connections to Bowling Green.

I move around just about every year and have been renting houses or apartments in BG for more than five years, so I have experience with most of the agencies, or know someone who does. I had some problems with red Newlove, and none with yellow Newlove. Red Newlove gave me problems when I moved out, and also some issues with yard maintenance. I no longer rent from either of them.

Some of the other places in town are Greenbriar, Preferred Properties and Mecca. Greenbriar is the only one I haven't rented from, but my friends have, and told me they had significant problems with maintenance, and that the people working in their office were not very helpful. Preferred Properties was average as a landlord, although they typically require parental lease guarantees from students, and give very little wiggle room on due dates. I've rented my current apartment from Mecca for two years, and have few complaints. I have a five day grace period for all payments and a flat fee for my water bill, as well as reasonable rent, which is nice.

Whatever you choose to do for living arrangements, I urge you to take great care when making arrangements with an individual or a company. Remember that you'll have to have a relationship with this person or agency, most likely for a year, or at least nine months. Ask all your questions up front and plan for every eventuality, because there's not much you can do once you sign a contract, and some people can be vicious when it comes to the language. Regardless of who you rent from, one lesson I learned is to take pictures upon move in, it often pays to have proof of those sorts of things.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Seasonal Business Approaching

Nothing can stimulate the American economy quite like holiday shoppers. Chances are you know someone who's gone crazy for a sale. The most glaring example of this is the deals that will come two weeks from now.

Black Friday has become the biggest shopping day of the year. Stores will give you incredible deals, like flatscreen televisions for $300. But to get them, you usually need to jump through some hoops. Bowling Green surely won't have problems as severe as those you'll see in national headlines, but Black Friday's obstacles usually include massive crowds, limited supplies and lines, potentially in abrasive elements. Walmart usually has people wait outside the store until the specials take effect, barring instances when people could pose a threat to themselves by waiting in the weather. Shoppers run on caffeine and adrenaline to attempt to beat each other out for the discount they seek.

Unfortunately (depending on how you look at it), BG's commitment of protecting small businesses interferes with an event like Black Friday. Many businesses that choose to participate, at least fully participate, open very early and offer massive markdowns, neither of which are very conducive to the small business mindset. National chains most likely experience wider profit margins, can afford to lower prices for a short time, have bigger locations that can hold more shoppers inside their doors and more employees to make it work and expand their hours to do so.

Thus, many Black Friday shoppers leave Bowling Green to find the best deals. However, you could definitely check out Meijer and Walmart this year for substantial savings, if you're willing to fight for them (not literally; well, maybe). All kinds of websites (, allow you to sort through the deals that might be exclusive to your area, or look at ones that might appeal to you. If it's not your thing, steer clear. I hope most people have enough of an understanding of Black Friday at this point that they should know if it seems like a good idea or not.
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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Behind the Creations by dawNN

Dawnn (with 2 n’s) Mahulawde is an entrepreneur.

Let it be known that entrepreneurship is a practice that everyone cannot cultivate.  Today, most people opt to work for an established commercial enterprise like Wal-Mart or McDonald’s.   Which is not a bad thing, working in such an institution has its pro’s and con’s.  Camaraderie with co-workers and benefits from collective bargaining are rewards for these foot soldiers of business.  But entrepreneurs have an agency more powerful, comparable to a king or a queen, exercising their will via the concept of manifest destiny in the business world.

Many of these start-up owners, like Dawnn, begin their journey on the fringes of commercial activity, hoping that their idea will excite consumers and fill a void in their respective markets.  Luckily her ideas manifested into interesting products and steady clientele.

After graduating from BGSU, she moved to Manhattan to attend Columbia University’s famed Teachers College. Dawnn now finds herself balancing her formal study in Counseling Psychology with her informal hustle, Creations by dawNN.  She’s landed in the BizNest to discuss entrepreneurship, self-help, and whatever else under the sun.

Q: First off, do you miss Bowling Green?
I do miss Bowling Green. It was such a small town and much easier to do business there.

Q:  Do you miss any stores in BG?
I do miss Asherah’s Garden. It is a holistic shop.

Q:  What constitutes Creations by dawNN?
A:   Jewelry, Mature Love Book, Hair Growth Oil, and now purses.

Q:  What makes your pieces special or worth mentioning?
A:  They are made from inspiration, magic, and love.  Inspiration is the immediate thought that comes to me. “It tells me that I must create this ______”. The magic is what comes when I put the inspiration into action. It is what happens after I bring my inspiration to life, sort of like a baby being born. The love is what I show each of my business ventures when I give them a name. It is what I show when I advertise them to someone.

Q:  How long have you been making jewelry?   
A:  Since my sophomore year of high school.  My cousin taught me how and I kept making it off and on until last year.  Last semester of my senior year, I began selling it around campus.

Q: Would you like to have a company with subordinates or would you rather handle your business on your lonesome?
A:  Right now I would only use help for advertising.  I’ve been advertising through donations of my jewelry.  I donated them to The Charity Fashion Show by Fad Watch.  I’ve also been advertising by donating jewelry to blogs.  But the threat of someone stealing my brand after I teach them overrides me wanting employees.

Q: The book that you’re currently writing, what is it about?
A:  The name of the book is Mature Love.  It’s inspired by my fiancé.  It’s a take on a 21 year old’s conception of love in this age of technology.  I disseminated the thought of Mature Love through Facebook statuses.  I received tons of feedback and the entrepreneur inside of me decided to write a book.  I mentioned that we are in the age of technology because I use FB as a catalyst, and I’m going to publish it in an E-book format.

Q:  Where do you find inspiration for your work?
A:  Unknowingly my father is.  He came here as an immigrant but garnered properties (housing) and is successful.  Although I wasn’t taught how to fix a car, or how to fix a house because of strict gender roles, I still had the desire to learn.  Not to learn those types of things, but to be an entrepreneur just like my father.  He’s a ‘jack of all trades’ and I’m trying to be the woman version.

Q:  You mentioned earlier hat you have a tax identification number but you don’t use it.  Why is that?
A:  Because I don’t want the government in my business, as of yet [laughs].  I consider my creations a lucrative hobby.  A hobby rather because it’s inconsistent.  By inconsistent I mean the irregularity.  I have my weeks when I’m selling items, and I have weeks when I’m not.

Q:  Is the mental health industry a big market?
A:  It's a big market comprised of small businesses.  You can have your own practice, work for a hospital, community organization, professor, etc.  But everyone has to come together to present new findings in order to disseminate mental health information and take it back to their respective work.

If interested in Creations by dawNN check out her previous manifestations of glamour on Facebook.   Or for some words geared towards healthy living from a #citygirl perspective follow her on Twitter: @Dawnwith2ns.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

How to Successfully Start a Small Business

Despite the lack of ethnic diversity within the workplaces that are being portrayed, the information presented in this particular video clip is concise and beneficial to those interested in heightening their entrepreneurial sensibilities. There’s more to business than product, customers, and exchange. Staff and subsequent relationships hold equal weight in the process of commercial enterprise.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Campus Pollyeyes

The website for Pagliai's Pizza and Campus Pollyeyes tells the "legend" of the opening of the restaurants in Bowling Green. I'm going to open with a selection from that history:

"...our story begins, in 1967, with a nineteen year old Missouri born pizza maker named George Nicholson. George had spent his early years mastering his trade under the tutelage of the Pagliai's brothers, Salvatori, Armond and Haldo, who had built a chain of pizzerias which stretched across Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois. One day, after having passed through a college town in Northwest Ohio called Bowling Green, Salvatori thought, rightfully so, that this town would be an ideal location for the first (and to this day the only) Pagliai's Pizza in Ohio. When George was given the opportunity to relocate from their location in Iowa City to Bowling Green to open up the pizza house, he jumped at it.

Pagliai's opened for business at 1004 South Main in 1967, across the street from the present location, with George and a handful of employees under him. Cheese pizzas for ninety cents and bottles of pop for a dime caught on... in a big way. In 1969, hot subs and the first salad bar in town were added. In 1976, having outgrown its current location, the business moved across the street to its current location at 945 South Main. In 1978, a second pizzeria was established at 440 East Court Street and named Campus Pollyeyes. The name changed to a more phonetic spelling to avoid confusion."
I included this story because I found it to be interesting, and also because this is the first time I have seen an explanation of why the names of the two restaurants are spelled differently. I've pondered this all my life, and the answer has been waiting in plain sight for who knows how long.

Campus Polleyes, in my opinion, is quite different than its predecessor. Pagliai's has a pizza, soup and salad buffet, and a bunch of Italian recipes on their menu. I had to look to see what else the Campus joint sells, because I've only ordered one thing from them, ever, and that's stuffed breadsticks.

They're kind of pricey, but the stuffed breadsticks are worth it. There's nothing else like them in town. They'll take pretty much anything they have in the restaurant and bake them in some dough with cheese and top it with garlic butter. Six come in a full order, but if it's just you, I'd advise three unless you want leftovers. Three breadsticks has always been considered a full meal by anyone I know.  That whole order will run you around $14, but there's coupons on their website that can bring it down to $11 or $12. I always get chicken and cheese with ranch (you choose a dipping sauce), but there's all kinds of other stuff to get, like steak or roast beef.

I don't visit Campus Pollyeyes in person very often, but it seems like a decent enough place. They have beer on tap (a nice selection, too), and it's close to campus at 440 East Court Street. They also serve pizza, sandwiches, salads, and more. Check out the rest of their menu with these PDF  links to the Carryout and Dine-In menus. Call for delivery at 419-352-9638.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Myles' Style is Thick

Another BG favorite is Myles Pizza Pub on East Wooster Street. Order this when you're really hungry or have a lot of people to feed, because their pizza is massive. The cheese, sauce, crust and toppings are all layered thick. Order a simple pepperoni and they'll pile it several slices high all over your pie, under a mound of cheese of course.

The restaurant is owned by Chip Myles, and it isn't his only BG staple. You can also catch him running an independent Dairy Queen located across the railroad tracks. Both have been around as long as I can remember.

They don't just get by on size and Myles, their pizza is tasty and creative. Look at their specialty pizzas, for instance. Although there are your standard meat and veggie lovers, taco, etc., Myles takes it several steps further. There's Greek lovers, Spice lovers (pepperoni/sausage/salami), Chinese chicken (pineapple/almonds), Tropical (pineapple/shrimp on whole wheat), Wild West (buffalo/mushrooms/bacon) and Breakfast lovers, with eggs and your choice of ham, bacon or sausage. A menu item I found surprisingly funny was a supreme-style pizza with lots of toppings called the "Food Lovers."

Myles Pizza also sells several sizes and styles of salads, subs and more. You'll just have to check this one out for yourself. Unfortunately they don't operate a website, so you'll have to try to look at some of those menu websites or, better yet, visit in person. Delivery is an option if you're hungry and aren't feeling motivated, which is available until 2:30 am for you night owls.
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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pisanello's: Ever Have It This Good?

I can say with certainty Pisanello's is my favorite pizza place in Bowling Green. I've never been one to save the best for last, so I made it my first stop on the BG pizza trail. Their catchphrase hits it on the head for me: " A pizza never had it so good!"

I checked out Pisanello's website and learned a few new things about the restaurant, even though I've been eating their pizza since before I can remember. It turns out that a guy named Ron Pisanello opened restaurants in Alliance and Kent, Ohio in the late 1950s, who sold the name and recipes in 1964 to a Kent State University student who brought the pizzeria to Bowling Green. There are now more than twenty Pisanello's Pizza locations across Ohio and Michigan. The BG location has probably won as many honors as any other restaurant in town, including Bowling Green's best pizza for 17 years.

Their recipes are both classic and delicious. Their traditional pizza sauce is good, but for a new taste, order the California White pizza with chicken and whatever other toppings you like (I suggest tomatoes). Their dough tastes fresh, and so do their homemade breadsticks. There are also more than ten subs and sandwiches and plenty of sides. I like the tomato bread. I also like to hit up Pisanello's for a fresh salad once in a while as well. There are many kinds but I pick the Chicken Caesar, which comes topped with a mass of cheese and croutons and is plenty for two.

So check out Pisanello's, and don't be afraid to try something a little out of the ordinary, because they offer some pretty good flavors. Also remember to vote in our pizza poll in the right sidebar. Let us know whether you like Pisanello's, a chain pizza place, or one of the other local favorites!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What's Your Favorite Pie?

Pizza Places constitute a healthy percentage of the rstaurants in Bowling Green, a number of them locally owned. Shoutout to Cheesy in BGeezy. They have a cool slideshow with pretty much every pizza joint in town.

I work for a pizza place in BG myself, and I'm a little dismayed by the local places we've lost over the years. Luca Pizza sold monster oven-fired slices and some decent stuffed breadsticks out of the Woodland Mall food court until they closed shop a few months ago. Several restaurants including a few pizza places like Night Flight and Dinky's went in-and-out of the now-empty location on Mercer and East Wooster. Years ago that same place was the second Pizza Hut. Each of these restaurants had good pizzas on their menus; is it the presence of big pizza chains in BG like Marco's, Papa John's, Pizza Hut or Domino's that cost us some of the other ones? Which do you prefer? Chain or local?

Anyway, this look at local pizza places is my attempt to draw some attention away from the $10 specials of the big guys to what I consider to be some more flavorful choices in Bowling Green. I much prefer the grub from the local places. I'll touch on my favorites this week, which are the same ones in the poll on the right sidebar. Wait for my reviews or make your sleection now between the local choices or the chains. Cheesy inBGeezy also has a pizza poll up, so make sure to stop by and give them your feedback as well.
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A Holistic Approach

Nowadays people tend to rely on pharmacists whenever they become ill.  Natural remedies are not as prevalent in our society as they used to be. 

Asherah's Garden is a local holistic health center ran by Lia Ricci-Sons.  She is a certified Holistic Health Practioner and Holistic Life Coach.  If you're interested in herbs more than potentially harmful chemicals, this place is a great alternative.

What is Holistic healing?  Holistic health is a concept in medical practice where all aspects of people's needs, psychological, physical and social, and mentally are taken into account and seen as a whole.  The holistiic view on treatment is widely accepted in medicine.  Treatment methods include accupuncture, Reiki, and herbology.

There are free workshops every Monday from 7-9pm at 175 N.Main St.  She is also available for appointments. 

I went to a workshop last year and it was real refreshing.  We meditated as a group and Lia definitely knows her stuff.

Here is some schedule information:
  - Monday Nov. 1
• No Workshop
• Herbs for the Cold & Flu- Monday Nov. 8 - Monday
• Defeating Negative Self
- Monday Nov. 22
• No Workshop
- Monday Nov. 29• Crystals

All Saturday workshops are
(covers instruction and materials)
& require an RSVP.
• Immune Booster Syrup
- Saturday Nov. 6
from 5-7p.m.
- RSVP by Oct. 30
• Aromatherapy Bath Salts
- Saturday Nov. 13
from 5-7p.m.
- RSVP by Nov. 6
• All Natural Lip Balm
- Saturday Dec. 4
From 5-7p.m.
- RSVP by Nov. 23
- Monday Dec. 6

• Stress Management for
Happy Holidays
Nov. 15

Friday, October 22, 2010

Long Live the King

I know I do a lot of writing about restaurants, but I love to eat.

Arguably, the greatest 'bang for your buck' spot in Bowling Green can be found at King Buffet.  King is an Asian cuisine eatery and is known for their King's combo.  For $5.99 you can pick five items from a list and a canned drink, fried rice is included.  Although there is a lack of polite customer service, it's hard to deny their affordability and flavor. 

It's the quintessential take out spot.  If it was up to BGSU senior David Clark he'd eat Kings at least four days a week.  "I've been eating Kings since I got up here.  I love the fact that I can eat multiple times throughout the day from one take out order," Clark said. 

The buffet isn't that great because they focus more on cost efficiency than the customer.  They don't refill the empty food pans that often, but participants in a smorgasbord don't do too much complaining.  Less than 30 seconds down the road is Old Time Buffett.  Although I never ate at Old Time Buffett I heard they have a great spread.

All in all, King rightfully deserves a spot on the city's top 10 busiest business list.  One way they could improve their business is by showing some customer appreciation.  Punch out cards for frequent customers or occasional discounts would prove beneficial for them.  Also, they should keep a better eye on those slick college students in there packing a little extra for later though :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Quick Fix

Fast food is usually administered by businesses that have the means to produce for masses.  It is intriguing when a small business attempts to compete within the factory food industry against giants.

Speedy Burrito is up for the challenge.  This small enterprise has a big taste and offers a taste of Mexico in no time. They've been around for less than a year, but their combination of late night hours, fast service and $1 dollar delivery rivals any of their competitors efforts.  The owner, Rick Urista, is a real down to Mars guy.  After he prepared my Acapulco burrito and taco we discussed the marvels of the information age.  He expressed the conveniency of the internet, specifically how he can get an authentic recipe from Mexico instantly.  Rick then went on to counter his point by adding that the human element is often missing in this technologically driven society.  A point on which I agreed.  I came in for food, not a healthy conversation.  But it was great.

For about the same price as Chipotle, you get a more authentic flavor at SB. It's right across the street from Taco Bell.  And I'm sure the consumption of these tacos and burritos will amount to premium gas unlike that of the aforementioned (inside joke).

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Marketplace of Freshness

After watching Food Inc. this past summer, I began to respect independent food producers more than I had ever done before.  Within this fast paced industrialized world we live in, franchises like McDonald's and Taco Bell seem to dominate the food market.  This quick fix-corporate-food phenomena has complicated the American economy and our health simultaneously. Food Inc. also highlights the discouraging  fact that many government employed regulators whom work in agencies such as the FDA, tend to have ties with the same corporations they should be monitoring to ensure healthy practices and safe food.

Think about it for a second.  Our national news is dominant over local news.  Commercials are from nationally recognized entities.  We're tuned into national politics rather than attending town hall meetings.  Lastly, we tend to shop at franchises over locally owned Mom & Pop stores.  There is this national/state vs. local dichotomy present in different aspects of American life. 

But withstanding all the national competition remains an endangered shrine of locality: The Farmer's Market

On Wednesday's from 3-8 on S. Main St. (Between Sam B's and Mesmerized) you can find all types of vendors selling herbs, fruit, veggies, fudge, cookies and more.  After my visit today, I felt refreshed.  I conversed and ate with Willy who owns Willy's Salsa (amazing), Tony who owns Antone's Hummos (tasty), and Bob the fudge man (delicious) about entrepreneurship and Bill O'Reilly, whom they said i'll debate with one day.  I also bought some natural hand sanitizer from Elizabeth, who is a chemist, made from from olives and sage.

It was a breath of fresh air.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Thoughts for Grounds

Grounds for thought may be my favorite business in Bowling Green.  The name of the store alone sets the mood before you even walk in.
Coffee, pastries, comic books and records all do their part towards stimulating your mind.  The subsequent formulation of ground breaking ideas is expected.  Every time I come here I feel like I am in Seattle.  And I’ve never even been to Seattle.  The wooden décor provides an Earth tone color scheme that creates a much better ambiance than Jerome.
Although different elements add to the atmosphere, books are the seminal piece.  A wide variety of reading material ranging from children’s books to critically acclaimed novels occupies the shelves.  But if you don’t want to read, there is usually some people playing chess or scrabble.  It’s a family affair.
All jokes aside, it’s more intimate than Borders.   And it is much cozier than Nobles and Barnes.  If you need a change in your studying venue, I suggest you come here.
P.S.:   Order a Coffee Amore with whip cream.
Pictured above are the friendly folks who'll make your drinks etc.  I didn't get their names sooo, let's call them Gertrude and Thomas.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mesmerized on Monday

Mesmerize- 1.  To spellbind; enthrall 2.  To hypnotize
Mesmerize is a head shop located in downtown Bowling Green, Oh.  The store is one year and two months old and is owned by a family who lives in Columbus.  Prior to it being a retail business the location was a small club named Plan B.  Plan B was shut down because alcohol was being sold to minors, and they had no liquor license.  So I guess Mesmerized is Plan C.
In this establishment bottles have been replaced with bongs.  A large portion of this store’s inventory consists of smoking instruments, incense/oils, and clothes.  Attire is mostly emblematized with enigmatic art and figures like Bob Marley.  Mesmerize is the red-headed step-child of Main St.  Surrounding businesses take the safe route by serving coffee, tacos and such.  This store on the other hand prides itself on providing the best smoking pipes in the area.  Mesmerized manager Mike Husaim rates the popular items as:  1. Clothes, 2. Incense, 3. Detoxifying drinks, 4. Pipes (for tobacco of course).
Along with the success of serving the Bowling Green community, people from Toledo and Findlay are also regular consumers of subculture.  The store has also experienced its share of turmoil since the store opened its doors.  It was raided in April on the account of suspicion of illegal activity.  According to Husaim, the raid was a result of another local business being caught practicing some type of undisclosed wrong doing.  But to aid their defense, it is store policy that all customers show their state identification card upon entering.  The most recent problem they have faced is the forced removal of detox drinks from their shelves by Bowling Green authorities. 
Husaim said there is no statute forbidding the sale of such dietary drinks.  He alluded to the fact that they are sold in GNC and outlets such as Wal-Mart, which is a valid point.  After nearly five months of deliberation, Mesmorized has not been found guilty of any crimes and continue to improve as a smoke shop.     

Another interesting tidbit is that they plan on switching the store’s name from Mesmerize real soon.  The change is based upon the notion that the store’s name is exacerbating the relationship between the business and the non-BGSU community.
Manager Mike and I talked about El Presidente’ Obama’s small business aid plans.  Mike is already convinced they have one of the best variety stores in the country, but he expressed with great fervor how “awesome” it would be if the private sector is truly given some allowance to expand their enterprise.  This store adds some diversity to the downtown area.  Give them a break.

7 Businesses in 7 Days

Time for some good old fashion on foot reporting.  With all the intriguing businesses around me, I'm going on a profiling spree this week.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Small Biz BG Slideshow

Bowling Green's downtown is comprised of a nice variety of small businesses.  No skyscrapers or colosseums, just a bunch of blue collar families trying to make a few dollars.  Enjoy the slideshow.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Beignets and Thoughts on the Coffee Industry

When I got to New York I had my mouth tuned for one delicacy: beignets.  I wanted to try one of these Nawlins’ (New Orleans) inspired deep fried pastries, hoping this melting pot of a city had someone selling them.  Moreover, I wanted to accompany the flaky texture with a hot cup of Joe.  Unfortunately the beignets are in another borough (Queens).  Contrarily, coffee is everywhere!
I’m not exaggerating when I say there is a Starbucks on every block.  I don’t support the former because of conspiracies that it's an instrument of the Zionist state, but I am indeed a connoisseur of coffeeine.  Peace to the Stovetop Baristas.  Rumor was that they were going to put a Starbucks in Jerome Library, we'll see.
 So far I’ve had two cups of coffee and a vegan espresso (although I’m no vegan).  The latter tasted like a boiled screwdriver.  I drank it though, I don’t waste.
When thinking about the modern coffee industry, its roots lie in the imperialism of the West Indies and Africa, dating back to the 15th century.  The coffee bean, along with bananas, tobacco, and sugar, is arguably the most profitable cash crop in the world.  Leaders like Hugo Chavez refuse to allow outside nations like the U.S. to capitalize off of their homegrown products, which is understandable.
There's nothing better than a local coffee shop.  In Bowling Green its Grounds For Thoughts, when I'm home in Sandusky I go to Ms. Smith's Coffee House.
I feel resentment towards the fact certain nations aren’t compensated for their niche, a niche that we enjoy daily.  I know I’m doing a bit of oversimplifying but the crux is that lop sided business is good capitalism. But good capitalism is harsh. Here I’m talking international business of course.  These international products, like coffee, find a way into our bodies daily and we often don’t realize it.
I’m about to walk the strip and try to locate some coffee, preferably from someone with a non-American accent. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Cookie Jar... And More?

This kinda ties in with something Daniel wrote about earlier, because "The Cookie Jar And More" is one of those places you're kinda surprised is able to stay in business. In no way should this be taken as an insult, I just mean that a cookie delivery business is a very specific sort of shop. It's at 130 East Court St., across from Spots, and definitely offers more than just chocolate chip (although they do that pretty well also). The Cookie Jar opened about three years ago, and is managed by Christy Johnson and Maureen Lanigan.

I've been spoiled most of my life by having some great cooks in my family, including my grandma and my mom. One of the things they really got creative with was desserts, which might be a reason I can appreciate what The Cookie Jar is all about. Cookies freshly made and baked from scratch are their specialty, and they some cookies every day as well as special varieties each day of the month. There's some really creative combinations on the menu for October. They also sell muffins, and do a great job catering their treats for events. The Cookie Jar is closed Monday and Tuesday, but can still deliver on catered orders. The rest of the week they are open until midnight. Call them up at 419-354-8780. Of course, you can also order milk.

Side note: in researching The Cookie Jar, I discovered that they actually hold an annual cookie eating contest: the fastest to eat six of their cookies and drink six pints of milk wins. I've never heard of this but thought it was worth mentioning if you like to see people throw up from eating too much.

Business, The New York way

It's near mid-October, and I'm in the Big Apple enjoying the vibrant, diverse atmosphere that Manhattan has to offer. Yankees memorabilia is everywhere!

As I observe the scene through my small business lens, it's not hard to realize that small businesses are just as important to this city as Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange. Fortune 50 restaurants like Burger King and McDonald's are the rarity. Instead pizza bars, vegan shops, cafe's and fresh food markets dominate every street.

Everybody is getting their hustle on. As I walked down Broadway through a Japanese-Korean block fair and street vendors of all types, I managed to buy some white sage incense from a serious looking fellow named Santos. It felt good to support the commoner.

It amazes me that all of these businesses can survive amongst each other. I would expect the owners of these places to have this 'crab in a barrel' syndrome. Contrary to my preconception they all seem pretty chill. Everywhere that I've been so far the customer service has been commendable.

The Indian cuisine spot I went to last night was great. The chicken mahknee and merlot was exceptional, so was the friendly host. The Indian spot in Toledo that I go to, you're lucky if you get a smile. Today my friend and I went to Angelina's Pizza Bar. The waiter had a strong Italian accent and didn't know the menu too well, but he made up for it with his authentic smile and genuine care towards us. He said "you're welcome" every time I said "thank you," and I say it a lot. It's the little practices that help a business last.

As I chowed on my buffalo wangs (yes I said wangs) and Trecolori pizza, I chatted with the owner Stu about the super bowl capability of his New York Football Giants whom we were watching. That's all he needed to epitomize the strongly opinionated New Yorker. In other words, he held a one sided conversation with me. But when it was time to leave he looked us in the eyes and thanked us for coming in and was delighted that we enjoyed the grub. Classic managerialism.

BG Ice Cream Scene

Everyone loves ice cream, and Bowling Green is no exception. It's a trend that's been more apparent as more try to follow it, and there's now ice cream shops scattered all over town. Many of them are similar and share a lot of the same menu items, but to me, one stands above the rest.

Myles' Dairy Queen is located right next to the railroad tracks on East Wooster Street. The owner also operates Myles' Pizza, just across the tracks. Both have their own style, and Myles' Dairy Queen's is big. They have all kinds of treats, and a food menu as well. This place is special, though, because it's not one of the "chain" DQs, so there's much more flexibility in the menu.

The most popular item has to be the blizzard, Dairy Queen's staple. But Myles' sizes are way out of whack. Even a medium is a LOT of ice cream, and that's not the biggest one. There's all the signature blizzards offered by the chain stores, like the Girl Scout cookie varieties, and many more as well.

It feels disappointing for me, a BG native, to change gears from Dairy Queen, the clear favorite, to other ice cream places in town, but they do exist. Sundae Station shares its location with the Marathon gas station on West Wooster Street and Wintergarden Road, but the ice cream store is definitely more popular. They have a blizzard "knockoff" they call the Avalance (there's a little bit of creativity, I guess). They don't offer as many toppings as Myles', but there are some special ones (like Buckeyes). There's another very similar place on Haskins and West Poe called Ice Cream Machine (less creative). These businesses, along with the addition of a Cold Stone Creamery to the Tim Horton's on East Wooster, seem to have BG's ice cream scene split into four quadrants, but don't feel boxed in. Venture out and try them all, but definitely don't miss out on Myles' Dairy Queen.
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Monday, October 4, 2010

An Entrepreneur's Story: Mark Cuban

What's not better than a success story to incite the entrepreneur in all of us? This video details the rise of Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks franchise. He's not the prototypical mega-millionaire decked in Armani suits 24/7.  He usually settles for Levi's and t-shirts. 

In this series he shares business moments throughout his life that molded him into the professional basketball baron that he is today.  Love him, or hate him, you have to admire his work ethic.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Mr. Spots

Everyone loves Spots. I'm not sure how else to say that. Their menu (.pdf link) features some of the best sandwiches and buffalo wings you'll find in Bowling Green, as well as salads and quite a few drinks, juices and sodas. And they deliver beer. Let me repeat that: with proper ID, they deliver beer. Been drinking, need more, and don't live near a store? DON'T DRIVE. Call Spots and let them help you out.

If you're still reading after that, let's get back to the food at Spots. Their Philadelphia style cheesesteak sandwiches are great, and probably the signature menu item. I like the Fire Steak, which has all the meat, cheese, onions and stuff and a bunch of hot sauce. There's other sandwiches, salads and hoagies as well. Get them with a bag of waffle fries. Call 419-353-SPOT, or visit them on East Court Street near downtown.

If you're from the Bowling Green you may or may not know that there is also a Mr. Spots in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Each location has been around for more than twenty years. I don't know how old this is, but here's a tv commercial I've seen from time to time...

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Clazel: Theater to Bar

The video below gives a brief look at the Clazel, a former movie theater on Main Street that was renovated several years ago into a nightclub. I'll do a full length post on the Clazel at a later date, but the video will give you a view of what it looks like now. You can see some of the old architecture and movie theater style left intact, but I assure you the historic building looks much different than it used to. However the video is a promotion created for the Clazel and is accompanied by some loud music, so I'd watch it on mute if I were you.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Small AND Big Business

While our focus for this blog is on small business, it's important to understand the balance between local establishments in Bowling Green and the presence of larger companies. I've lived in BG my entire life, so I've been a part of the community's development for more than twenty years.

Like just about anywhere else in America, one thing we've always had here has been fast food restaurants. There are now two McDonald's, three Burger King's, two Wendy's, and a Rally's. That's a lot of burgers, but it doesn't stop there. BG has an unbelievable amount of Subways. I think the count currently is around 7, including several locations in gas stations. One of the busiest chain restaurants in town is Taco Bell, which stands in a prime spot on the walking route between the BGSU campus and downtown BG, specifically the bars.

Even with the presence of so many large companies, the city maintains a strong sense of small business as well. There are many small businesses and restaurants in downtown Bowling Green, which creates an interesting balance with the many chain restaurants. It's not possible to completely understand how chains affect the viability of small businesses in a small city, but there have been plenty of places that have gone out of business.

One of my favorite restaurants when I was a kid was a baseball-themed hamburger place called Casey's. It was very simple, with a menu that offered sandwiches that ranged from a single up to a home run, as well as fries and milkshakes. No go-wraps, fruit smoothies or gimmicks. I don't know if an increase in chain restaurants chased Casey's out of BG, but a rise in the number of locations for the big guys couldn't have helped.

T.M.I. (The Music Industry)

I pose a quick question to my BG colleagues, have you ever been to Finders on Main St.?

For most of you, the answer is no.  It happens to be the local record store.

Periodically, I go there to buy my albums to satisfy my thirst for funk whenever I need a boost of inspiration. Call me old fashioned but I still buy Compact Discs.  You know, CD's?  For some odd reason when I buy things, I like to physically own it.  MP3 technology is convenient in the sense that it doesn't get scratched up, but its intangibility is kind of weird if you ask me.

With the technological boom in recent years we've seen the traditional model of the music industry change drastically.  The monopoly over creative capital once held by record labels has been decentralized due to the phenomenon of file-sharing.  The nature and functionality of the traditional music industry model is in stark contrast to the information age that we live in.  In this industry where falsetto vocals and guitar licks are goods and concerts are services, technology serves as a gift and a curse for recording artists of the 21st century. 

Essentially music artists are small business owners capitalizing off of their aesthetic talentsSean Carter said it best, "I'm not a business man.  I'm a business, man!"  Each artist has been forced to adapt in a market that is complicated by spoiled fans who would rather pirate than purchase.

Most recording artists have found themselves at cross roads very similar to journalists, trying to find a way to be compensated for their work in this technologically sophisticated world.  Even prior to this technological renaissance period, many artists still struggled to break even due to equivocal contracts drafted by esquires, that upon signing will have them (the artists) in debt to the record label.

I guess this is my public service announcement:  Support the artists and Local Businesses (more so than Best Buy and Wal-Mart).  I do.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bowling Green: Small City, Strong Spirit

Bowling Green is a small city in Ohio whose residents pride themselves on a strong sense of community. With a population around 30,000, people of the municipality strive to deliver the services of a mid-sized city with the neighborly atmosphere of a small town.

One of the things that makes Bowling Green an interesting and pleasant place to live is the presence of many small businesses that make up much of the local infrastructure. Downtown BG is lined with small shops, restaurants, historical buildings and businesses, as well as bars - one of the qualities that appeal to the students of Bowling Green State University, which also has a significant presence in the city.

This blog is intended to showcase the businesses and service providers around the city. We'll visit the restaurants, show you the stores and the sights, and write about what makes Bowling Green such a special place. Hopefully this will be not only a source of information for people who live in or plan to visit BG, but also a model to inspire our sense of community in others.

The following is an excerpt from Mayor John Quinn's welcome letter, available on the City of Bowling Green's website:

"Bowling Green is a city of energetic and forward-looking people from all walks of life who are genuinely concerned about their community and how it grows and prospers. Our aim is to make all citizens, students and visitors alike feel that they are part of and welcome in this community. With all of these attributes, I think that Bowling Green is a friendly and pleasant place to live, work, play, and study."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Small Business Jobs Act, For Dummies

It wasn't too long ago, two years to be exact, when the national audience was captivated by the character that was Joe Wurzelberger, commonly known as "Joe the Plumber."  Wurzelberger, a Holland, Ohio native, was brought to public attention by some Alaskan woman, to exemplify that then Senator Barack Obama's election as president would mean subsequent tax hikes for small business nationwide. 

At the time, Joe the Plumber became a cultural punch line, but his narrative didn't carry enough weight to get the veteran and the hockey mom in the White House.  In the aftermath of their defeat came the Obama administration.  As promised, Mr. Hussein spearheaded and advocated initiatives for small business loans and tax cuts for businesses that make less than $250,000 a year (98% of small businesses).  Last week these initiatives became policies after Congress passed the Small Business Jobs Act in a 237 to 187 vote.

What does this mean?

Well, I don't have a Tax Breaks For Dummies book, but from my understanding small businesses will be able to take measures to improve their business in the form of expansions, etc. and ultimately subtract those expenses from their gross income at the end of the fiscal year.  Barack and his cohorts hope predict these incentives will trickle down from the private sector to the middle class, but that sounds eerily similar to the practical ideology of one of our most infamous commanders-in-chiefs.  Hopefully the results won't be analogous.

Hopefully a slew, if not all of the small businesses in Bowling Green and abroad can take advantage of the aid provided by our national government in some fashion.  Only time will tell if this legislation proves beneficial, or if we should have taken Joseph the Pipe Engineer more seriously.