The win for Warehouse Barbecue in the Iowa Pork Producers’ pulled pork bracket comes on the heels of word that Morgan’s Corner is once again serving one of the top 10 burgers in the state. Both are good news for Ottumwa.
Area residents already knew Ottumwa had some good food. Graham’s and the Canteen are longtime icons for the community. The state recognition is nice, though. And it’s worth noting that both are for relatively new businesses.
It would probably be stretching the point to suggest Ottumwa is becoming a new hub for foodies in Iowa. We’re not quite going to take it that far. But Ottumwa does have a wider range of options and better quality of offerings than is often recognized.
When people talk about the Ottumwa business climate, they’re most often talking about manufacturing or retail. That’s no surprise. Deere and JBS are major players for the Ottumwa job market. The smaller retailers employ fewer people individually, but their numbers add up. The visibility and accessibility of those smaller businesses also play a major role in shaping people’s opinions of Ottumwa.
What people who haven’t been in business for themselves probably don’t quite realize is the massive effort it takes to run even a small one. We don’t know of many small business owners whose work is a 9-5 job. For the vast majority of successful business owners, the job occupies a central place in their lives. The willingness to spend 12 hours or more per day working, and to do so for months or years, can be the difference between success and failure.
And businesses are interconnected. When people hear about things like the burger competition or the win with pulled pork, it brings people in. They’re not always the folks you might expect, either. Brian Morgan mentioned this week how some audience members at Bridge View who came in for a concert heard about the burgers at his place. They headed over after the show, creating a welcome, if frenzied, business bump.
Ottumwa has unquestionably seen progress in the past decade. It hasn’t been even. It has had its stops and starts, and it hasn’t been easy. It’s not over, either. There remains work to be done.
But too many continue to look around and see only deficits. Criticism is one thing when it is genuinely aimed at correcting a flaw. But when your first act is to whine and complain regardless of the issue, you’re making a mistake. When you react to a success in the community with carping about unrelated matters, you go from being gadfly to grump.
We’re glad to see Ottumwa businesses making their marks and gaining notice from the wider Iowa audience. It’s good for them and good for Ottumwa.
The complaining can wait for another day.