Monday, January 16, 2012

Battling Goodman Road Traffic for BBQ - Boss Hog

A little more than a decade ago I worked as a reporter out of The Commercial Appeal's DeSoto County office. At the time the office was on Goodman Road near Airways and I would occasionally enjoy a meal of pulled pork from Boss Hog B-B-Q, which was just down Goodman to the east of our office.

The pulled pork meal is still a good value at $6.89 for a plate with "beans, fries and slaw or potato salad." That part confused me a little. When the lady at the register asked if I wanted slaw or potato salad I just said potato salad without really realizing what she was asking. I just sort of assumed I was being asked if I wanted fries or potato salad. So my dinner came out with beans, fries and potato salad. When I said that I wanted beans, slaw and potato salad, but no fries, they quickly changed my order with no fuss even though a closer reading of the menu made it obvious that the mistake had been made on my part.

Besides assuming that customers want a double order of starches, I also had several staff members stress that I could have a fountain drink for just $0.10 more than the water I ordered and drank. I began wondering if the restaurant's owner is heavily invested in the stocks of drug companies pushing medications for type II diabetes.

The pulled pork itself was juicy and flavorful in a Memphis average sort of way. It was piled deep, so it looked like a small order when the plate first came out but it ended up being a generous serving, especially considering the low price. The sauce had a nice vinegar tang and wasn't overly sweet while the baked beans had a good thick, hardy sauce. But the slaw had more mayo than I prefer and I only ate about half the potato salad, which tasted suspiciously like the kind you can get in a tub at the Kroger deli. 

Once I finished my meal I had to navigate a left turn across Goodman out of the parking lot. I enjoyed being a reporter back when I worked for The Commercial Appeal, but I  dreaded having to deal with the most congested traffic nightmare in the Mid-South on a daily basis -- Goodman around I-55. A few years after I was laid off from the ever-shrinking local newspaper its DeSoto bureau relocated further south. I'm sure the move was at least partially driven by the constant traffic jams holding up reporters and photographers on their way to and from assignments.

The fundamental problem with the Goodman area is that Southaven, like most disposable suburban sprawl towns, had very few actual neighborhoods. What it has are lots of subdivisions full of houses in cul-de-sacs but none of the other elements that make a group of houses become a "community." If you want anything, you get in a car and drive to a big-box retailer on Goodman or one of the surrounding commercial strips. The problem is compounded in Southaven because the interchange at I-55 and Goodman is also used by a large number of commuters from the surrounding cities of Horn Lake and Olive Branch.

The unchecked, poorly planned growth that drives the expansion of sprawl in places like DeSoto County also sets the areas up for their eventual downfall. As a reporter there, we were constantly reporting on new bonds being issued to cover the infrastructure demands of new residents. Streets, sewers, schools, fire departments and police cars are expensive, and politicians don't get reelected by being honest about the true longterm costs of the things their constituents want. As taxes inevitably rise to cover the cost of infrastructure, which begins aging as soon as it is constructed, the most entitled-feeling residents are quick to throw up for sale sings and seek out the next unsuspecting rural community for the another round of sprawl.

That community's politicians are initially smitten by the siren song of short-term exponential growth, since they see waves of taxpayers clamoring to move in. They normally fail to recognize one simple truth of suburban sprawl; the average multi-child family moving into a newly constructed subdivision will end up costing more in municipal tax revenue than they will ever pay in. To see the end result, and the future of Goodman and I-55, take a drive down Winchester in the Hickory Hill section of Memphis and look into Shelby County's current level of debt.   

Boss Hogg Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

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