There is probably no more maligned area of living than the suburbs. Long derided as a place where the sidewalks rolled up at 6pm, and originally conceived as nothing more than bedroom communities for the cities they surrounded, people for decades were faced with an appalling small number of choices when it came to shopping, dining and entertainment. The expectation was that when people wanted to do something special they would go into the "big city." If a person from 25 years ago were to drive through downtown and see all the food in Appleton, Wisconsin that was available, they might not believe how quickly and thoroughly the change happened.
Shopping was actually the first to make the inroads out of the city, as major retailers recognized that it would be best for business to go where their customers were. The advent of the shopping mall and shopping plaza convinced owners of other business, restaurants chief among them, that they could be more successful with lower costs by opening restaurants in suburban areas. For their parts, customers quickly embraced this new convenience. At first, it did not matter too much what style of restaurant was opening - or even how good it was - for it to become popular, simply because it was one of the only choices in town. As competition increased, however, owners and chefs had to step up their game.
This all started to happen at the same time that suburban towns like Appleton, Wisconsin started to recognize that they were no longer dependent on the nearby city (in their case, Green Bay) for their identity. As more and more people stopped working in the city and started working in the corporations that had relocated, thanks to generous tax incentives, lower cost of real estate and convenience of transportation, these medium sized towns grew into small cities. With that came a greater emphasis from the Chamber of Commerce and elected officials to offer more services to their residents.
Looking for food in Appleton today means having over 300 restaurants to choose from, and while there are certain styles of dining out that are represented by multiple different eateries, there are also a large number of alternative styles of restaurants as well. Fusion dining, especially Latin fusion dining has proven to be a popular choice for customers, and based on how highly these types of restaurants are rated on such websites as TripAdvisor and Yelp, they are matching their popularity with exceeding quality. The way food in Appleton is, a person could have dinner at a different restaurant almost every night of the year, which just goes to show that the day of the suburb as a quiet little town good for a place to sleep and not much else has definitely become a thing of the past.
Jack Terry is a freelance writer who has spent more than 20 years covering the food and beverage industry. http://www.osorioslatinfusion.com