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Our View: Here’s the beef

Progress marches on, whether we like it or not.

The latest take on progress for Grass Valley comes in the form of a Wendy’s — a fast food burger chain that plans on demolishing Paulette’s Country Kitchen and installing a drive-thru.

It’s one of those developments that has half the community shrugging its shoulders and the other half either outraged or already prepping for a burger run.



After all, it’s a burger joint. What’s the big deal?

Well, turns out it’s a beefy deal to a lot of folks, and one you won’t just find in Nevada County.




This isn’t a new business taking the place of another one in one of our historic downtowns. And it’s not the demolition of a nondescript structure so a shiny new edifice can take its place.

This is a Grass Valley icon — Paulette’s — that’s disappearing for a restaurant you can find in most any town across this country.

You can understand why some people would be upset at this progress.

But, like with any form of change, it’s more complex than this.

Paulette Rickard, the owner of the country kitchen, has said it’s time for her to move on. She’s operated her business for three decades. Our community should thank her for everything she’s done, and commend her for making a restaurant that was more than a business.

Rickard said she started the process of selling the building last year, and only recently learned a Wendy’s was planned.

But what’s that matter? She owned the property, and has every right to dispose of it as she sees fit. Should this community have the right to determine what business can go where, just because it favors one type of shop and not another?

It’s a classic case of your rights end where ours begin.

If there’s anything this community should reconsider it’s the ease at which drive-thrus can be approved. The Grass Valley Planning Commission, which on Tuesday approved the Wendy’s, even said that it’s interested in looking at the policy allowing drive-thru restaurants.

Here’s where we can find some compromise. Traffic already gets rough in the Glenbrook Basin. Drive-thrus certainly don’t help that congestion.

Let’s take a look at that policy, hold some public hearings and reshape the code that currently allows a proliferation of them.

The possibility of more drive-thrus in the city’s future should be the target of our ire, not a random chain restaurant that’s abiding by existing rules.

There’s more than that, though, simmering beneath the surface. Sure, drive-thrus and chain restaurants can get under someone’s skin, but this project is different.

It’s the loss of a cherished business, Paulette’s Country Kitchen, that’s the center of this issue. That’s where the beef is.

What this progress is doing is removing a piece of our community. Good memories, good food and good friendships are disappearing, and a Wendy’s will take their place. That’s what bothers some people.

The thing is, community is what we make of it. Paulette’s served us for decades, and gave us a great place to gather and enjoy each other’s company.

If we want another local business to take its place, we’re the ones who must make that happen. Whether that’s an existing business or one that doesn’t yet exist, it’s up to us to make the spaces where community forms and is strengthened.

That’s what real progress looks like.

The weekly Our View editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com


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