I was a perfect mix of thrilled and dumbfounded when Kristen Baker-Gezcy’s email told me of Mobile’s latest accomplishment. I suppose you could say I was “thrillfounded” when I opened it and read that missive from Ms. Baker-Gezcy.
“With summer right around the corner, ‘tis the season for burgers, steak and barbecue joints! Experts at Rent.com have determined ‘Where’s the beef?’ by researching the best cities for meat lovers in America, based on commercially available business listings, to count the number of meat retailers and steak, burger and barbecue restaurants in each city,” Kristen wrote. “Foodies and meat lovers in Mobile may be surprised to know that their town ranks number 10 in the Top 10 Small Cities for Meat Lovers with an average of one meat establishment per 5,436 residents.”
Holy Cow!!! I know Mayor Stimpson promised us the most business-friendly and safest small city in America by 2020, but it appears he also had a rack of ribs up his sleeve! Scooting into the most meat-friendly top 10 cities is something Sandy must’ve been working on secretly behind the scenes for quite some time. While we never heard him say, “By 2020 our per capita meat eating will be the envy of every other small city in America!” it was obviously a priority.
Suddenly Mobile, not necessarily known for meat consumption, jumps into the top 10? That’s couldn’t have been an accident.
I wrote Ms. Baker-Gezcy and asked for more information as to where Mobile ranked in previous Rent.com meat lists and if she had any insight as to what got us over the hump.
“This is a new, first-year study, so we don’t have previous stats for comparison,” she wrote back.
So this was an inaugural meat list. It’s nice to know Mobile came off the griddle hot, but it still would be nice to see how far we’ve come on our collective quest for recognition as the country’s number one meat chomping small city.
Trying to do a little investigating on my own, I checked out Rent.com. To my surprise it turned out to be a website devoted to renting apartments and houses and there were no prominent links to its meat department. But I was able to look at the meat lists for the various categories, and while it’s nice to make the top 10 list for small cities, we clearly still have a long way to go to hit the big time, meat-wise.
Las Vegas was determined to be the country’s top meat city due to its 48 barbecue joints, 112 burger and steak places and 132 combined Burger Kings, McDonald’s and Wendy’s. Not to mention a $1,063 average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment. It wasn’t clear how apartment rental prices factored into overall meat friendliness, but I wasn’t about to second guess the meat experts at Rent.com.
As Mobile was on the small cities list, there weren’t a bunch of graphs and bad meat puns explaining how our group was selected — just a straight list based upon how many people per “meat establishment” each city can boast. The lower the number, the higher on the list each city was ranked.
I was shocked to see Chattanooga at the top of the small cities list with just 3,894 people per meat establishment, or ME as we’ll call them in order to save space, ink and reduce my carpal tunnel syndrome opportunities. Mobile had 1,542 more people per ME than Chattanooga, which means we either need a BUNCH of people to move out of town or to build a whole lot of new MEs in order to take the top spot. Even more disconcerting was that Birmingham ranked third on the list with 4,132 people per ME. They’re 1,304 PPME (people per ME) ahead of us, a total embarrassment.
I know, I know, shouldn’t it just be enough to be in the top 10? Yes, it should be, and no one is more proud of Mayor Stimpson’s efforts to get us eating more animal flesh than I am. But now that we’re on the big stage, we need to win this thing! Tenth place isn’t going to get people flying in to our new Brookley Field airport so they can gorge themselves on meat and check out our breathtakingly low average monthly apartment rates!
We’re within easy striking distance of moving into seventh place. I’m sure just one more Wendy’s or Mickey D’s would do the trick. But I’ll admit that even if we did bump Lewisville, Texas, into eighth, the climb to the top gets much steeper from there. That’s why we’re better served by attacking Rent.com’s methodology to get where we need to go.
Dividing Mobile’s 200,000 residents by the 5,436 PPME rating these so-called “experts” gave us, reveals some shocking results. If Rent.com is claiming we only have one ME per 5,436, that means we only have 37 MEs citywide.
Are you kidding, Rent.com?!!
Just Googling “Mobile Alabama barbecue restaurants” brought up 37 MEs! So none of our Burger Kings, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Five Guys, Sonics, hot dog stands, chicken-on-a-stick trailers or the multitude of fantastic local burger joints were counted? They counted those in Vegas! In fact, I’m pretty sure just about every restaurant in town serves some kind of meat. This charred flesh disenfranchisement shall not stand!
The mayor and City Council have been at odds for some time now, but what better cause to bring them all together again than fighting for Mobile’s rightful spot on the Rent.com meat lovers list? Certainly every district has seen some of its MEs go uncounted in this sloppily run first attempt at meat ranking. It is a citywide insult.
Perhaps a huge barbecue pep rally is in order, one where the mayor and Council find both unity of purpose and a shared love of well-cooked beef, pork and poultry. Maybe in the end, setting these yahoos at Rent.com straight will not only show the nation how much meat we really eat here in the Port(ly) City, but can restore the comity that was once a hallmark of our municipal government.
And maybe, just maybe, our leaders can get Rent.com to mention our very competitive monthly apartment rental rates in next year’s list.
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