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Halloween 2012 October 31, 2012

Posted by Kenny Norman in miscellaneous.
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Happy Halloween 2012, my blog followers! If all went according to plan, I should be at a Haunted House and dinner at either Ryan’s or Teppanyaki tonight!



So Long, Happy Garden… October 28, 2012

Posted by Kenny Norman in news, north.
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Alright. I have to write this down while the wound is still fresh.

Happy Garden, my favorite restaurant in all of Indianapolis, has closed.

My dad had planned on taking me there as a surprise after Menards to get some Wonton soup. The sign light was on, but no one was home, and the inside was dark, except for a faint light coming from their old kitchen.

Their last day of business was October 19, 2012. I was having my Halloween Party at the time. I remember thinking the day before how I should have gotten some of their amazing Wonton Soup after karate, but decided against it because I was between paychecks. By now, I wish I would have.

NO ONE made Wonton Soup like Happy Garden. The broth was freshly brewed and didn’t taste like it came from a bouillon cube. It wasn’t too salty, either. The dumplings were chewy, fresh, and doughy, and the meat inside was tender and not spicy. It was my favorite thing to get there. I enjoyed the buffet as well, and how they cooked chicken with snow peas in “healthy style,” but the Wonton Soup was the best.

I started going there on September 8, 1998 after the end of my first karate practice. My grandma took me to karate at Belzer (back when it was there) Middle School and decided to take me to dinner on the way back home. She saw the sign at the corner of 56th & Fall Creek that said “Happy Garden Chinese Restaurant” and, knowing how much I love Chinese food, decided to give the place a go. I loved it and went back so many times since then. I went there with my grandma until 2006 and I went there with my dad a lot of times since then, even for my 21st Birthday dinner in 2010. I took three of my friends there in November 2010 for Black Friday dinner on my last Thanksgiving Break ever (senior year in college). One of my friends and I even went back there in Spring 2011 for a late lunch. I had so many fun times there, more than I could count. I certainly can’t remember them all right now.

There was another restaurant called “Happy Garden” on East 86th street where the current Nora Target is now. I’m not sure if it was the same family or not, but that location closed in late 2003 when the Nora Target decided to expand and change alignment, necessitating the demolition of the three leftmost stores in the nearby strip mall.

I remember when the Christian Bookstore next door closed in 2006, Happy Garden saw it as their chance to expand. One week in 2007, I went there and they were in one unit, with the buffet in the back left corner. The next week, I go back, and they had expanded into two units, taking over the former bookstore and with the buffet taking up a lot of what used to be tables in the first unit. Another thing of note is that they started a rewards program with a card reader in early 2010, and I applied for it right away. I earned 84 reward points that I never got to redeem. By January 2012, they quit the rewards program and the lady there told me the card service cost too much. Which is a shame, considering how I went there right before Christmas 2011 and was starting to rack up points.

Another thing I liked about Happy Garden was that it was a family restaurant. I don’t see too many of those around anymore that really have a nice following, good food, and go through the extra effort. I remember there was a husband and wife working there, with the husband in the kitchen and the wife at the counter. She had a boy a few years younger than I was when I started going there and then she was pregnant with another kid a few years later. There were about six of them that I saw and they piled into this one van. They remembered me throughout the years and always asked how I was doing. I went there once and they offered to make me anything fresh on the buffet because they were almost out of certain items. I can’t think of too many places that offer that kind of personal service anymore that goes the extra mile.

2012 has been a rough year for places I like closing. I lost Old Country Buffet January 19, and I lost both Blockbuster at 64th & Keystone and Incredible Pizza Company at Lafayette Square Mall by March 19.

The economy may have been rough since 2008, but I think it’s the location that was the source of Happy Garden’s downfall. When I first went there in 1998, the shopping plaza it was in (Windridge), was pretty successful. They had A Auto driver’s ed, a Dollar General, Parrotheads Bar & Grill, Christian Life Bookstore, CVS, and an O’Malia’s Grocery store. In fall 2006, the CVS moved to the southeast corner of 56th & Emerson and the O’Malia’s closed. So did the Christian Life Bookstore. Parrotheads had closed some years before (2004 I think) and was converted into a daycare circa 2008. With Happy Garden’s closing, only the daycare and Dollar General are still there. So, for the past six years, Happy Garden has been fighting an uphill battle in a strip center that’s rapidly losing customers and failing to attract new businesses. Only those who already were fans of Happy Garden like I was were apt to go there. I’m amazed they held out this long. And so, when I went there tonight, October 27, I saw an orange sign on the front that said:

“October 19th WILL be our last day to stay in business. Thank you for your patronage. We are gonna miss you guys. –Happy Garden management”

I miss that place so much already.

Happy Garden
5532 East Fall Creek Parkway North Drive
(317) 542-0573

There’s a line in this song that says, “Can you believe it? How much everything has changed? Well, they shut down the old diner and put in some new chain.”
That’s kinda how I feel right now.

Shoe shopping is tough business. October 8, 2012

Posted by Kenny Norman in miscellaneous, north.
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Well, recently I needed new shoes. The heels on my old pair were going out. I had already been to the 75th & Keystone Wal-Mart, which is where I usually get my shoes for $10-20. Unfortunately, they were out of my 10.5 wide width men’s tennis shoes. I then tried the Glendale Target and they didn’t even carry tennis shoes! I then tried the West 38th street Target, which had tennis shoes, but not in my size.

So, September 10, 2012, my grandma took me for shoes. My goal was to get some for $20. We first went to the Nora Marshalls. The prices there were HORRIFYING- shoes went from $70 to $120! No thank you. Next stop was the Nora Target a few doors down. They didn’t carry wide width tennis shoes, and that was disappointing, but at least there were sales on lotion, Chap Stick, and deodorant! After that, I tried Goodman’s Shoes, which was close to Marshalls. Now, this is a fancy shoe store, so I went straight for the clearance rack. Sadly, the cheapest it got was $60, so out I went.

New Shoes

My new shoes! (Though I usually don’t go for black.)

The 4th stop my grandma and I tried was the Kohl’s at Keystone at the Crossing. I hadn’t been to a Kohl’s since ’95, when the one at 75th & Keystone closed and turned into that Wal-Mart I mentioned. Anyway, I went in there, and the shoes were $50-95. It’s a step better than Marshalls or Goodman’s, but STILL it’s too pricey. My aunt and other grandma love going to Kohl’s- they say it’s cheap and they sometimes get 25-50% off coupons, but even with a 50% off coupon (which the cashiers were not currently giving), the shoes were still too pricey.

Our 5th stop was the Shoe Carnival at 82nd & Allisonville. I saw a LOT of shoes there between $60-150. That was WAY too expensive for me. All seemed lost…until I stumbled upon a pair of black Fila men’s 10.5 wide with tennis shoes for $37. That was still pricier than the $20 goal I’d set, of course, but they fit wonderfully, it was the best deal I’d seen all day, and my grandma had taken me to five places so far. I told my grandma about the shoes as I was about to leave. Surprisingly, she told me to get them because she thinks we’d have spent too much on gas trying to chase a better and possibly nonexistent deal. (And she was probably right!)

My 3rd favorite restaurant!

And as one of my friends noted, I usually do WHITE shoes, but hey, I’ll take what I can get, as long as they’re not pink! Had Shoe Carnival failed, TJMaxx, Burlington, and JcPenney, and Payless Shoe Source were next on the list. Thankfully, they were not necessary. Oh, and my grandma treated me to lunch at Super China Buffet (my 3rd favorite restaurant) before taking me back home. I, of course, thanked her for shoes and food. Day well spent…and shoe shopping is tough business.