Forum editorial: Grilling tiff was lesson for the city
It's time to put the Fargo Dog House/Metro Drug scrap into the city's book of legend and lore. The final chapter (we hope) was last week's concern by Dog House owner Rob Lynch that Metro's regular Thursday noon outdoor grilling was generating too...
It's time to put the Fargo Dog House/Metro Drug scrap into the city's book of legend and lore.
The final chapter (we hope) was last week's concern by Dog House owner Rob Lynch that Metro's regular Thursday noon outdoor grilling was generating too much smoke. The wind was just right (or wrong) so smoke coming off Metro's grill was wafting into the Dog House's door. The Dog House owner alerted the Health Department, which dispatched an inspector who ordered Metro to control the smoke. Lynch, who lost his re-election bid to the City Commission in part because of the Metro grilling issue, said he did not ask the Health Department to shut down Metro's grill. That was the department's decision.
But because of the history of the flap, the incident became fodder for both sides of the debate and, of course, for the media. So more headlines and TV video were generated and the former commissioner got unjustly painted as the bad guy.
It's all been overblown by the media, some Fargoans have complained. Not so.
If it were merely a conflict between two businesses, it would not have become a page one story. But because the argument involved a city ordinance that had not been enforced for 14 years, a city commissioner with a restaurant next door and a debate over what a rejuvenated downtown should look like, the tiff took on a life of its own. It was about city policies, election politics and retail competition. It was a microcosm of clumsy official conduct. It was a lesson for city officials who failed to perceive a public relations disaster in the making.
Let's get over it. Fact is, both businesses are downtown assets. To his credit, Lynch took a chance a few years ago and made an investment in a downtown restaurant. He and his crew rustle up delicious hot dogs, sandwiches and soups that are hard to beat for the price. Metro Drug has been a downtown fixture for years - staying with downtown when other retailers were leaving. Metro provides countless services and products in addition to Thursday's outdoor grilling.
Both businesses contribute to downtown's new vitality. In part, the grilling story was a symptom of downtown's growing pains. In that context, it was a useful lesson.
Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper's Editorial Board