For generations, if a person wanted to go out for a really nice meal, they had to either be living in or planning to visit a major city. For smaller cities and the surrounding suburbs, most dining out choices were both pretty limited and rather predictable. The concept of dining out on a regular basis was not a common one, especially following the post war growth of the 1950's. Then, even though more families owned cars and had the means to go out to eat, they were also living in homes full of modern convenience, both in the kitchen with which to prepare the foods as well as in the living room, specifically the television, the centerpiece to many family meals.
Another important aspect of this era which contributed to this focus on home cooking meals was the rise of the supermarket. Now people could shop for all of their groceries in one location instead of having to visit four or five different stores, and they were being introduced to new types of food and styles of cooking. Having saved so much time with their shopping and eager to try something new for dinner, it is no wonder that casual fine dining restaurants around the country were few and far between.
What helped to bring about a change in all of that was the change in suburbs themselves. Now instead of being "bedroom communities" where people would get up early, go into the city for work, and then return each night, many businesses were starting to expand into these new areas. Land was less expensive, the communities would offer tax breaks and now they would be that much closer to their workforce.
This growth led to these larger towns and smaller cities becoming attractive destinations for other people looking to get out of the city as well. Some of these people were from restaurant families; second or third generation Americans who had been working in the family industry. Presented with the same options - more space for less money and a larger potential client base - these people moved out and began opening new restaurants where they could introduce their Latin fusion menu and other authentic ethnic cuisine to the people.
The Appleton, Wisconsin restaurants reflect this trend and also how the trend, in turn, affects the surrounding area. Today there are more than 300 restaurants in the Appleton dining scene, according to TripAdvisor, one of the most respected review sites in the business. These restaurants reflect a wide variety of dining styles and cuisine, and demonstrate the full circle of dining in America. Now, instead of exploring new foods at the grocery store, people are looking to experience these meals made authentically. In only a generation's time, dining out in Appleton has gotten a whole new look.
Jack Terry is a freelance writer who has been covering the food and beverage industry for more than 20 years. http://www.osorioslatinfusion.com