Heres What We Think…

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By: Jeff Perlman Editor-In-Chief

Recently, we found an old menu on Facebook from Tom’s Place, an iconic culinary mecca that once ruled Boca Raton.

And we mean mecca, because people made pilgrimages to Tom’s Place to worship at the altar of Tom’s sublime bbq ribs.

The Boca Historical Society shared the post and it got a big reaction on their page.

Aside from the really low prices ($1.50 chicken sandwiches!) it struck a chord of nostalgia in those of us lucky to have experienced Tom’s amazing food.

We remember visiting Tom’s many years ago where we witnessed someone going up to the take out window and ordering brisket which was met with a quizzical look. We talked about that experience for years.

But we digress.

Nostalgia is a powerful thing. We tend to remember the good stuff and disregard the rest. So we remember Tom’s but tend to forget that we weren’t exactly awash in restaurants back in the 80s. Of course, there were some great places—the Arcade Tap Room, Boston’s on the Beach, Scarlett O’Haras, Ken and Hazel’s, Damiano’s, Pineapple Grille, Splendid Blendeds, LaVielle Maison, Arturo’s, Caffe Luna Rosa and there is more.

But…

As good as the old giants were and are (here’s looking at you CLR), it seems like we are living in a golden age of restaurants.

Everywhere you look, even in nondescript locations, there exists some great restaurants.

Innovative menus, knowledgeable servers, gifted chefs, interesting interior designs, exciting craft cocktails and beers, world class wine lists, unique concepts. We are living in a special era. And the arms race seems to be just beginning.

Food halls, green markets, secret suppers, farm to table concepts, craft breweries, food tours, food trucks it’s extraordinary. Even convenience stores are turning into foodie havens, with artisanal sandwiches, kale salads and specialty breads.

We are also living in a great age of creativity.

To combat e-commerce and to stand out in the crowd, retailers, theater owners, hoteliers and even office developers are stepping up their games. (Boutique hotels, co-working, pop-up concepts etc).

For retail it’s all about the experience.

Movie theaters have added food, plush seating, film clubs and cocktails—a far cry from sticky floors, popcorn loaded with transfats and jujubes (remember those odd fruit chews?). While the changes are rapid and ongoing (please save the raisinet) the outcomes are pretty cool. Some local examples are iPic and the Living Room Theater at FAU. Both have raised the bar on the movie going experience and both seem to be doing well in the era of streaming and binge watching Netflix.

Sometimes the changes and the speed of change seems overwhelming. So yes, we miss the good old days.

But isn’t today and tomorrow exciting?