Tag Archives: state street

Merritt’s Country Cafe located in Boise, Idaho

Merritt’s Country Cafe and Example of Progressive Change

Merritt’s Country Café, on any given day before the new Idaho smoking came into effect, was a den of smoke.  The attractiveness of Merritt’s were the hours.  A smoker could buy a bottomless cup of coffee and smoke for 24 hours, 7 days a week. You could always spot a first timer because they would come with a half pack of smokes.  The regulars might have a half pack of smokes on the table but definitely kept a carton in the car along with a bottle of zippo fluid. The only thing that could make the smoker slow down might be the apocalypse, oxygen tank switch, death bed or sadly when the smoking laws changed.

Now that smoking laws have come into effect, the rhythm of Merritt’s 2:30AM mating ritual – watery coffee, cheesy omelet, full-bodied drag, are you sober yet, your place or mine – has been replaced by teenagers and young adults who get off on loads of sugar packs and whip cream.  I have graciously accepted these changes because I’m ready to become a 24-hour fresh air breather. 

The one aspect that hasn’t changed at Merritt’s Country Café is the busy State Street four-lane road.  If a person walking or bicycling down State needs some fresh air, I recommend taking a break at Merritt’s. 

It’s criminal that a person has to step into a building with special air filters so that he or she may breathe fresh air, so recently the federal government has threatened to get in bed with the Treasure Valley’s air quality clean up program.  The solutions presented by our local elect, such as reduce driving and mow lawns in the evening, as reported in the Idaho Statesman reminds me of a smoker afraid that lung cancer might get involved in their daily life so the smoker makes an attempt to cut down their dangerous habit by switching from hand rolled Drum cigarettes to Marlboro Reds. 

When it comes down to it corporations and politicians love the money generated by the automobile and drivers love to drive and smokers love nicotine.  One way to dramatically decrease air pollutants would be to stop driving.  This sort of idea is as crazy as telling people to reduce lung cancer they must stop smoking.  I propose a compromise similar to the Idaho smoking laws that will help solve the air quality issue. The local elect must switch their air quality attitude from Marlboro Red cigarettes to Marlboro Ultra Lights.

Think of four lane roads as public buildings and restaurants.  The rule is a person can’t smoke in the restaurant but can smoke in designated outside areas.  An example would be Flying M Coffee House.  A person can’t smoke inside but can smoke on the patio.  Four-lane roads will have two lanes dedicated to cars, one lane dedicated to bicycles, and one lane dedicated to public transit.  

Think of two lane roads as public sidewalks.  Smokers and nonsmokers share the sidewalk.  Two lane roads will be shared by motorized and non-motorized vehicles.  The difference will be the hierarchy.  The bicycle/pedestrian rights will SOCIALLY and lawfully come first.

Think of I-84 as the bar.  The nonsmoker who walks into 10th Street Station or Turners Bar will be taking their lungs into their own hands.  Just as smokers have total smoker freedom in the bar so may the vehicles on the freeway. 

How will the city pay for these changes? One way to help pay for the costs of re-marking the lanes would be to create permanent space for vendors such as produce stands, food carts, and bookmobiles.   The local government would then collect a tax or rent fee on the barricade space.  Another idea – create a special sales tax on bicycles.  Citizens who use a lane need to pay for bicycle related city services.

Because our economy is based on capitalism, the above ideas will not be deemed successful in terms of air quality and health but in terms of air quality and money.  From my simple observations of the Boise smoking scene, the industry stills generates a fare amount of money.  At first, times were difficult for the smoker with the new laws.  Restaurants complained about patrons not being able to take a drag between their poached salmon and crème brulee, but people made do with the changes.  People complained when cigarette prices cost the same as a gallon of fuel but made do by smoking cheaper brands like USA Golds.  I no longer hear the smoker grumble.  The pendulum has swung back into balance.  I would bet there are more tobacco stores, cigar rooms, and hookah bars in Boise since the smoking laws went into effect.  The above observations indicate good news for politicians, corporations, and drivers who are afraid these driving ideas will have negative economic impacts.  Times at first will be a bit of a challenge, like a smoker who had to learn how to put down the cigarette from his left hand and replace it with a sugar packet.

The point being if a Merritt’s Country Cafe smoker can make the Idaho smoking law transition so can a Treasure Valley vehicle addict. 


Boise, Idaho: Merritt’s Country Cafe (video)

Click here to watch.

Traveler Brandon Follett is delighted to find a greasy cure for homesickness at Merritt’s.

Greenbelt located in Boise, Idaho

Within a 10 minute Bike ride

I live a block off State Street in a little log cabin. I have come to refer to my noisy, congested and sometimes-violent neighbor as the little monster. The four-lane beast runs east and west connecting Boise, Eagle, Star and Middleton transforming these little towns into one big town all suckling off the State Street tit. The other day, Amy and I decided to explore our neighborhood breakfast options on State Street.

We started at The Lift and then quickly moved on to Eddie’s Diner. I will mention that the servers at both restaurants had great conversational skills and friendly smiles. From my observations, I concur that genuine smiles do not correlate with the quality of food. None of the servers came across with that used car salesperson disposition. The servers aren’t having conversations like,
“Hey Johnny, I’m gonna charge this guy $8.00 and feed him processed crap. Let’s see if he catches on that I just sold him canned beans and mushrooms.”
“Hey Johnny, my table just asked for maple syrup, so I gave them syrup that has no maple, only chemical flavoring. HA! HA! Cutting corners. Making money for the man.”

I believe servers can honestly sell their product with a smile because they have to assume the diners know they are ordering substandard food. For instance, at my place of employment, sometimes a customer will order a large hot chocolate with caramel syrup and extra whipped cream followed by a pointing pudgy parental finger at the rice crispy treat. The parent loudly declares so that the people in line can hear, “you’ve been such a good boy not complaining about taking your medication and passing your 4th grade standardized tests. You get the biggest and fattest treat.” The parent pats the kid on the head and thinks, “my child will never academically be left behind. Walking – now, that’s another story. My little whippersnapper must have an out of whack thyroid.”

At my job I assume the parents know the type of food they are buying puts their children at a greater risk for certain diseases and the purchase is simply motivated by the greater good of cheapness, oral fixations, and education. I happily hand over the congratulatory snack of diabetes. I can do this with a genuine smile and without my conscious bothering me because diabetes is a small price to pay if it’s the snack that motivates learning. I can deal with cracked heals and obesity but not stupidity. Big tobacco should lobby to have cigarettes used as a motivation for education. Once again here is my motto: I can deal with long-winded hacking and smelly breath but not stupidity.

Enough of this madness — no more wasting writing about the dysfunction of the food industry! I am going to take a positive approach and not take the typical lazy American approach of diddling time away; waiting for new legislation, a new president, a new religion, a new Dr. Phil or a new self help book to promote change in my life.

Within a 10-minute bike ride of our cabin, sandwiched roughly between Albertson’s and Wal-Mart is a beautiful world of omelet fine dining. For delicious omelet ingredients, there are three farms that have an abundance of vegetables and chicken eggs. The farms are City Gardens, Earthly Delights, and Peaceful Belly. In addition, Smokey Davis offers a selection of smoked meats and cheeses. Finally, for the perfect omelet setting there’s the Boise River that runs parallel to the little monster.

On my way to the Boise River, I stopped at Turner’s. This locally owned store offers a plethora of fishing gear next to a bar where a patron can get a shot of Old Crow Whiskey and a bottle PBR for $5. I figured if Turner’s did not sell some sort of conventional fuel, I could by some Vodka to burn.

To turn eggs into omelets, thanks to Back Bone Media and Tracy Wilson, I had a Brunton Vapor AF All Fuel Expedition Stove. The biggest selling point about the Vapor AF is that it can burn basically any type of fuel including butane, bio diesel and jet fuel. As a traveler, I enjoy the peace of mind knowing wherever I go there will be fuel that is compatible with the stove. Once I had figured out how to operate the stove, the flame became as easy to control as a conventional kitchen stove.

So here it is – one of the finest omelets I have ever eaten – a spinach, Idaho trout, and havarti dill cheese omelet made along the Boise River within minutes of the little monster and its big box stores.