It’s been two weeks since South Limestone closed and since I suggested the idea to LexMob businesses up and down SoLime. So how is the LexMob idea faring? Have we made a huge difference to the bottom lines of the affected businesses?
In a word: No.
In two words: Not yet.
As an ad hoc effort, we usually decide the spot we’ll mob for lunch that morning. I usually send out a tweet proposing a time and place, and ask “Who’s in?”
So far in a typical LexMob, just three or four people show up. A couple of times, the mob swelled to about a dozen or more. And yesterday, I was the lone LexMobber.
These weren’t really the overwhelming numbers I had hoped for, but are about what I expected as we get the idea of LexMob off the ground.
Still, the LexMob experience has already been rewarding in a number of ways:
- I have gotten to meet a lot of great new people while LexMobbing.
- I have gotten a lot of exercise marching up and down Limestone (except in yesterday’s monsoon).
- I have gotten a lot of encouragement from the local Twitter community and from the affected businesses.
- Lexmobbers (including me) have gotten exposure to great restaurants and stores that we would never have patronized if the closure hadn’t happened.
- A few times, I’ve seen folks organize their own LexMobs
- I have gotten an inspiring, up-close look at how resilient and innovative other business owners are in the face of profound challenges.
And those rewards will keep me going back to SoLime businesses during the closure.
Where have we been? Here’s our list so far:
7/22, Lunch: Pazzo’s Pizza Pub (4 LexMobbers)
7/23, Lunch: Sav’s West African Grill (3 LexMobbers)
7/24, Lunch: Tolly Ho (14 LexMobbers)
7/27, Lunch: Tin Roof (3 LexMobbers)
7/28, Lunch: Han Woo Ri (Korean – 11 LexMobbers)
7/29, Lunch: Hanna’s on Lime and Failte Irish Imports (8 LexMobbers)
7/29, Dinner: Pint Night at Pazzo’s Pizza Pub (~4 LexMobbers)
7/30, Lunch: Pita Pit (2 LexMobbers)
7/31, Lunch: Sav’s West African Grill (4 LexMobbers)
8/3, Lunch: Banana Leaf (Indian & Malaysian – 2 LexMobbers)
8/4, Lunch: Cloud 9 (1 LexMobber)
While I think all of these businesses need our help, I worry less about the popular campus hangouts (Pazzo’s, Tolly Ho, Tin Roof) than I do the lesser-known and more out-of-the-way spots.
At Cloud 9 yesterday, I wasn’t just the only LexMobber there – I was the only patron. During what should have been their busiest hour, I was the only customer in the whole place.
And – given its former ‘dive’ incarnation as the original Tolly-Ho and Wok ‘n’ Go (tucked behind Kennedy’s Book Store) – it was a surprisingly great place. Very clean. Really nice ambience. A very tasty special burger blend from Critchfield Meats. Deep-fried hot dogs. Beer-battered fries. Unique and delicious ‘flavor-blasted’ soft serve ice cream. Home-made mix-ins for ice cream treats. Home-made frozen cheesecake. I already want to go back.
Being the only customer gave me a chance to have a long conversation with the owner (Kurt Henning) about a variety of topics, including the South Lime closure. He had no communication from the city about the closure – he heard details mainly through rumor. He didn’t know that the digging would go as far south on South Lime as it has. He had no warning that the Euclid / Winslow / Avenue of Champions intersection with South Limestone would be completely closed. And, he was surprised that the road in front of his shop (on Winslow, well off of South Lime) was being dug up as well.
And yet, Kurt was surprisingly resilient in the face of such a disruptive interruption to his business. He’s looking forward to when students get back on campus and business picks back up. He’s working to ensure good word-of-mouth (he does no advertising) about his business.
And, sitting there as the only lunchtime customer in a great local establishment, I decided then and there to give him some good word-of-mouth. (Did it work?)
Don’t go there – or to other South Lime places – because you feel sorry for them. Go because they really are that good and because they deserve our business.
And, despite the extra inconvenience, time, and cost – I decided to continue LexMobbing South Limestone.