As you probably know, we are very proud of the restaurants in Windsor and Essex County. When traveling to other cities I boast that no one can beat the pizza in Windsor or how we have more restaurants per capita than anywhere in Canada (a rumour I’ve heard many times and love to tell others about). It’s why we started WindsorEats.

We wanted to know what others thought so we enlisted the help of a group of marketing students at the University of Windsor to conduct research into the dining habits of Essex County.

The findings were surprising. Only 29% surveyed preferred and supported locally owned dining establishments while 65.9% preferred national chains such as McDonald’s, Applebee’s and Kelsey’s.

With so many great local options we were a bit stunned as to the large percentage of those surveyed that preferred the corporate chains. Small businesses are such an important part of any community and supporting our local industries has never been more important.

Shores of Erie Wine Festival:  Celebrating Local Wine & Dining
Shores of Erie Wine Festival: Celebrating Local Wine & Dining

The advantages to eating local are numerous. In addition to the ability to offer fresh local ingredients, dining locally also ensures your dollar stays in the region. With a struggling economy, it becomes even more important to spend our hard earned dollars on businesses owned and operated by people who live in and work in this region.

“If one supports a local restaurant, your initial investment helps employ local people. Their taxes and spent wages contribute to the local economy and our neighbours keep working”, says Sandra Bradt, Director of Tourism at the Convention & Visitors Bureau of Windsor, Essex County & Pelee Island.

Chef Michael Barlozzari of Mezzo Ristorante & Lounge grilling some asparagus.
Chef Michael Barlozzari of Mezzo Ristorante & Lounge grilling some asparagus.

When a restaurant purchases their stock locally from Essex County farmers, this pushes the economy along even further.

“If a local restaurant buys local, then not only are you assured of a fresh meal, prepared with ingredients subject to our country’s high standards, but those ingredients arrive at the restaurant with minimal transportation, which saves the environment” says Bradt. “Locally purchased ingredients also support local farmers, whose operations and wages support other portions of the economy.”

Our local eateries also offer a wide variety of dining options, displaying the ethnic diversity of our region.

Shin Shin Chinese Cuisine
Shin Shin Chinese Cuisine

“Windsor is very unique since we are so multicultural” explains Sarah Hsu of Shin Shin Chinese Cuisine. “This makes dining in Windsor especially great because we are each able to bring attributes from our cultures that add value to our service and menu.”

Bradt agrees that our ethnic diversity also contributes to our great dining options.

“At chain restaurants, you get the same meals prepared the same way, in each location. Independents offer more interesting options, the opportunity to learn about a region and its people through food.”

We have seen many restaurants close recently. Within the last year La Cuisine, Thai Pan, Le Steak at Fillmore East and Ristorante Brigantino have all closed their doors.

What motivates us to choose the restaurants we do? The survey discovered food quality (63.8%), good service (53.6%) and low price (48.9%) were the top three reasons in deciding which restaurant to dine at.

Many national chains do offer good food fast, but in many instances, establishments such as Hurricanes Pub & Grill, Chanoso’s, Dirty Jersey’s, Trappers and so many others offer similar items that are of higher quality, and served with vastly superior service, for similar prices.

Hurriacnes Pub & Grill
Hurriacnes Pub & Grill

In Windsor, we know all too well the effects of having large corporations move in and out of a city and the effects it has on a community and it’s people. But maybe it’s time to put our support behind small businesses that are committed to this region, who live and work here and raise their families here.

WindsorEats does not promote chain or big box restaurants and we do not put them on our site. We never have and we never will. Rather, we encourage people to step out of the box and try something a little closer to home. Something that hasn’t been frozen, packaged, shipped and thawed out before being served to you. You won’t be disappointed!