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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Columbia not as "Friendly"?

    A  trip to Rehoboth Beach presented an opportunity to become reacquainted with a restaurant that is a distant Columbia memory.  That restaurant was Friendly's.  We used to have two Friendly's in Columbia.  One in Dobbin Center and one in Kings Contrivance.  While the food at Friendly's was always just fair (and the service was always slow) it was always the first choice when we asked our kids where they wanted to go to eat.  Probably something about those ice cream desserts that made any meal better.  The Dobbin Center Friendly's seemed to have the same waitress there when we went and she got to know the names of each of our kids and could probably guess what each of our kids was going to order.
      With the closing of the two Friendly's and our kids growing up those Friendly's meals became just one of those distant memories that spoke of our past hectic life with frequent doctor visits, school meetings, attending dance recitals and kid's sports events.  I remember longing for the days when a meal at a restaurant had a real waiter and multiple courses.  But now that our lives are more leisurely and more focused on adult recreational activities the visit to Friendly's had us talking about many of our memories of our children growing up.  I couldn't help but look fondly at a young family in a booth near ours.  I wanted to go over and tell them to appreciate their Friendly moments as they past too quickly.   But then I realized that only makes sense years down the road.
      So the question I am posing is in the title of this blog.  Is Columbia less "kid friendly" then it was in its earlier years when there were more young families? Where do young families hang out in Columbia today?  I know that it is nice to have a Wegmans and Whole Foods and restaurants like the Highland Inn but have they replaced venues that were designed with young families in mind?  Even our local Red Robin was redesigned to have a more adult setting to entice more adult drinkers after work.  I know our community demographics are skewing more mature but I would hate to see us turn into a Tampa or St. Petersburg where the big dinner crowd starts lining up for the buffets at 4 pm.


David said...

There also used to be a sit-down Friendly's in The Mall in Columbia. Those were the days!

Nina said...

I was also going to say wasn't there a Friendly's in the Mall, lower level?

Children are a smaller portion of the population than in my childhood here, but I suspect that its not just the demographics, but changes in preferences. Starbucks, Wegman's, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Coal Fire, Sushi Sono, etc. are full of kids. They didn't exist when I was a kid.