Monday, December 13, 2010

Good-bye to Old Family Restaurant: Uncle Wesley's Is Closed

Uncle Wesley's on the N. 11th and Bushkill Streets in the West Ward

Posted by: Noël Jones

Matt Assad of The Morning Call reports that after 38 years in business, a family restaurant, has closed its doors. Being a fan of healthy food, Uncle Wesley's had never been my favorite, but it still made me sad to a family business in our neighborhood close. I know that it was very popular with residents (and police officers) who romanticized the cheap greasy burgers and fries and cheap beer, especially  during a recession when its hard for many families to afford to go out to eat. One thing I will miss--it was one of those places where, if you were walking around the neighborhood on a really hot and humid day, you could dip in to the virtually sub-zero air-conditioning of the wood-panelled dining room for a quick beer to cool off.

I hope that another family business will pop up in its place, as it is currently up for sale. Any takers?


Anonymous said...

Easton and the entire area are losing their local mom and pops to the big box restaurants and stores. We can't complain,,,,,,we have only ourselves to blame. As a former small retailer I laugh at people when they say "hey sorry to hear you closed" and they never stepped foot in the store. That's why I support all of our locals downtown and in the West Ward.

noel jones said...

Anon--you make an important point--it's very important to buy local and at mom & pop shops whenever we can afford it, so that we don't lose our city's character to the big chain restaurants.

Most people don't even realize that citizens have the right under our state constitution to draw up ordinances declaring that big box stores and chain restaurants cannot open shop here. But we still have a lot of people that are in love with the big chains, even as they lament seeing mom & pop shops close--most people still haven't made the connection in their minds. It takes a lot of dialogue in the community to make that shift.

Vermont, for instance, doesn't allow chain stores and restaurants in their state, and they are so much better off for it--the integrity of the character of the communities there is still intact, and local farms and mom & pop shops flourish.

Untouched Takeaway said...

@Anonymous 3:00PM

We don't know the reason the place shut down; I've heard at least two scenarios that don't involve lack of custom.

I, too, am very supportive of local businesses and agree that's the backbone of success for these places.


Anonymous said...

The Vermont example may becoming more of a myth, For ex.

In 2010 "The voters of Derby and Newport, Vt. voted in a referendum last month to support a Walmart superstore, according to a staff report in The Chronicle of Orleans. Several rural New England communities have shunned Walmart, but in Vermont's self-described Northeast Kingdom, the electorate was welcoming, voting 2,592 to 411 to support the store. A small complication, though: Walmart has no plans to build there."

When the economy is down, the idealism gets lost.

Dennis R. Lieb said...

Anon @ 8:32...

The important point to make about Vermont - or anywhere for that matter - is that the COMMUNITY makes the choice. Chains have no moral right to exist. They are simply fictional creations of legal language that get the blessing of the state through a corporate chartering process that is so laughable as to deserve contempt.

It's not about keeping WalMart out. It's about local self governance; the right to decide whether you want something or not. If all the towns, cities and burbs of America got together tomorrow and starting making ordinances that placed control of the types and formats of businesses they wanted to allow in their locales we would see a Renaissance of local business success literally overnight.

And please; I don't want to hear anything from anyone about Constitutional rights to do business. That line of reasoning is myth perpetuated through the decades by paid-off lawyers and judges who somehow equated person hood with holding of a corporate charter. The U.S. Constitution remains in place and the Bill of Rights will always be there correctly to protect those real individuals whose rights are trampled on in the course of local decision making. This is a given. Let's start using these romanticized documents in the way they were understood by most of us to be used.


Anonymous said...

"important to buy local and at mom & pop shops whenever we can afford it,"

There lies the problem -- mom and pop stores are NOT necessarily more expensive than the big boxes. They don't have the overhead, labor and high rents of the malls and shopping centers. It is a myth perpetuated by the big boys that bigger is cheaper. Try shopping the big stores just for their coupon items and sales and see how long they remain open.

My problem is that anon 3:00 is right, don't blame anyone but ourselves for the demise of the mom and pops.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the business does not have rights, but the consumer does. And, low prices win. It's an economic fact.

Efforts by governments to create special regulations to protect businesses always fail. Regulations promote inefficiency and businesses which seek protection lose money and cannot compete. Eventually they ask for more regs and protection and even bailouts to survive. Just ask the airline and railroad industry.

Regulations to protect mom and pop won't work. People have legs, cars, federal express and to find goods and services at cheaper prices. It's always been tough to survive as a business. Most, even the best, don't make more than a couple decades. Innovation and finding that right niche promote survival. Asking protection for non competitive pricing is a loser.

The big box stores succeed because of consumer choice. You can start all the campaigns you want to "buy local", but the winner in the end is price and service. In the case of Wesley's, prices increased, portions declined, service was not the same. I stopped going and have memories of long ago. It was great. Was great.