December, 2013. Fairhope, Alabama. Lagniappe From Fairhope

Posted on December 15, 2013

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Fairhope“This city makes it easy to succeed”.

Those words were part of an upbeat conversation with the young owners of an independent restaurant in downtown Fairhope, Alabama, where we were enjoying a spaghetti and lasagna dinner.

These days, not all owners of ‘mom and pop’ establishments can say that – but then, things are a little different in Fairhope.

And Lagniappe is part of the reason why.

Lagniappe (pronounced lan’-yap) loosely translated means “a little something extra”, according to the twice-monthly Mobile newspaper of the same name.

Lagniappe is an important part of the everyday experience in this small city.

Like people stopping their cars to let someone cross the street between intersections. That’s lagniappe for downtown walkers.

Like merchants treating Christmas shoppers with food, sweets and mimosas during their annual Holiday Stroll. After being so pampered you automatically want to buy something, and that’s lagniappe for the merchants.

Like the city’s parks department keeping planters along the sidewalks and large beds at each intersection overflowing with beautiful flowers year around – not to mention the floral displays in numerous parks. That’s lagniappe for everyone.

Grown localLike the support local restaurants get from one another. There’s Fairhope or Fairhope area-produced cheese, beer, produce, meat, and breads all over town, sometimes appearing in what you might think would be competing establishments. Like Panini Pete’s homemade mozzarella on Sweet Olive’s pizza. That’s definitely lagniappe for anyone who likes their food to actually taste good.

But it’s the constant progression of public events, celebrations and festival throughout the year that provide the ‘little something extra’ for Fairhope’s merchants. After all, when a town is filled with people, cash registers ring.

Fairhope brewerygrown local 2Fairhope is certainly not the only city or town to have a ‘lagniappe attitude’, but – trust me – we’ve traveled through plenty of places that obviously never tried to put a little something extra into their retail areas, their restaurant choices or their public spaces.

There are so many dismal and depressing places out there – and you can’t help but wonder why.

I guess these places simply haven’t learned about lagniappe.

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