Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Future of Dessert for the 99%

May Day is coming, but the country's flaming cockpit has been radioing "May Day" since the collapse of the housing market. I could repeat the well-publicized news of economic inequality, plutocracy, corporate personhood or anything else that is fairly obvious to those with powers of observation uninhibited by Fox "News." (I don't mind joking about Fox News since it is treated with a grain of salt by my friends who identify themselves as having Republican and conservative views.) I will NOT be talking about these critical and timely issues for our nation. Instead, I will talk about dessert.

My brother recently sent me an article that details a natural resource whose supply is in danger. It is dark in color, highly viscous in liquid form and among the most important and needed substances in the world: chocolate. While demand for cacao increases each year, the finicky crop remains static. The crops have very specific needs to thrive but limited amounts of available land that can meet those needs. Deforestation, a controversial and unsustainable option, is the current practice while different ideas for plant cultivation are explored. But time is running out as each year brings higher demand. And future limited supply will result in chocolate going to highest bidder, namely those with the wealth.

Issues like this are easy to dismiss because it seems like a problem of the future. But that feeling only lasts until the problem hits where it hurts.

During my fourth visit to Boston this year, I made my typical rounds, which include a trip down Mass Ave. I passed the newly closed Daddy's Junky Music, a regional chain guitar shop I would go inside whenever I passed. I continued north to Newbury Street, Boston's funky shopping district for both local and chain stores for fashion, food and miscellany. My first stop, however, sent shock waves through me. Instead of a bustling ice cream escape house, I saw this:

On the closed entry doors of J.P. Licks was a message. It wasn't an advertisement for a new flavor to tempt me away from my old stand-by, a scoop of creamy Oreo Batter and a scoop of their chocolate-based Oreo. No, it was the disturbing message that the store was closed because the only store capable of affording the rising rent costs are big chain businesses. The Back Bay neighborhood Ben & Jerry's is still in business, the Emack & Bolio's charges on, but a successful local chain has been driven from its home. Here's the message in its entirety:

March 13, 2012

Ladies and Gentleman, Boys and Girls,

It is with great sadness that I must announce the closing of this, our Newbury Street store. After almost 20 years our lease is expiring and our time has come to vacate the premises. Our last day open will be Sunday, March 11th. Our landlord plans to rent the entire building to a single tenant like the Converse, Patagonia, and Forever 21 buildings on this block of Newbury Street. We can neither afford nor utilize this entire 2 story building.

This was our third store when it opened and perhaps the most unique and wonderful looking store of any since. Our shattered tile, sculptural front counter was a genuflection to the great architect from Barcelona at the turn of the twentieth century, Antoni Gaudi. The counter was co-designed and built by Mitch Sidd. The magnificent, life-sized Holstein wall mural was painted by Kim Goldstein and Gail Henry. The overall design of the "Church of the Cow" was conceived by myself and built by CAFCO Construction.

As we continue to look for a new affordable home in the Back Bay, please be sure to visit our newest store at 150 Charles Street on Beacon Hill. The Charles Street shop is currently under construction and scheduled to open in April. You can also visit any of our 9 locations in and around Boston for your yogurt and ice cream needs.

Thank you so much for your patronage over the years. It's been a lot of fun serving you all.

Vince Petryk
Owner and Founder of J.P. Licks

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