Sheltered Islander

Sheltered Islander: Chinese Takeout Debate on Shelter Island

The famous Fedi’s Market on Shelter Island became Schmidt’s Market in 2013. Outside of the IGA, it was the only place to buy essential groceries and it was open till 7 p.m., which equates to 11 p.m. off-Island. But now, there’s a sign in their window that reads, “This Business For Sale, Make Offer!!” Nobody knows what’s going on and the rumor mill is working overtime. Hopefully this situation will settle out soon because we need a mini-mart here. But, we only need half a mini-mart, that’s open till 9 p.m. They’ll make a fortune in beer, diapers and snacks. The other half of the space I want turned into a Chinese takeout.

Several Chinese restaurants have opened here, but they all go under because there’s not enough sit-down business. We just need takeout with delivery, like they have on the mainland, and we need it desperately. How many times have we been on the ferry with someone who has Chinese takeout in a bag on the front seat? If it’s summer, we can smell the soy sauce—if it’s winter, we can see the steam on the windows. I heard of an Islander who tried to buy part of a guy’s takeout order right on the ferry. Smart Islanders hide any off-Island food, like McDonald’s or Pizza Hut, under beach towels when we get on the ferry so the ticket-takers don’t attack. I lost my last ferry ticket once and paid for my ferry ride with a Big Mac. Trust me, a takeout would make out.

I’ve got the whole thing planned. Just a short menu with the most popular dishes, delivered everywhere but Ram Island. I’m sorry, but Ram Island is just too far. It would take a half-hour (observing the speed limit) to drive from the store to the outer curve of Ram Island. Nobody could be in a vehicle that long inhaling fresh Chinese food without pulling over to test a noodle or two. And we all know where that leads—first a noodle, then just one shrimp, and before you know it, all that’s left to deliver is fortune cookies and the bill.

“Hello, Bob’s So Long Chinese Take Out…no, can’t deliver to Ram Island…no, not even if you pay extra. Your wife’s birthday? I dunno…okay, I’ll send two guys….because the extra guy can keep the driver from pulling over and eating the order by the time he gets to Little Ram Island. Okay, you leave your house in 15 minutes and meet them halfway, that could work.”

Forty-five minutes later…

“Hello, Bob’s Chinese, what? They pulled over where? In the cattails? Sword fighting with chopsticks? It’s the spring rolls… they were too fresh… I should have known they would’ve pushed the guys over the edge… I don’t know what to tell you…you got a tire iron? Can you get any of your order from them? Yeah, that’s why we just deliver on the Island, you can train yourself not to touch Chinese food in a car for 15 minutes, but after that, it’s every man for himself. Sorry sir, that’s just the way the spring rolls…”

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