Your Morning Matters: The patio bar tour – Mahoning Matters

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It’s Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, and the nearing of the end of summer, for many of us in the COVID-19 era, means the end of some feeling of security — or freedom.
You see, while my wife and I have curtailed most indoor dining, we do enjoy some outdoor venues. Give me open windows, fans, a roof in case of rain, plenty of social distancing and keno, and I'm a happy guy. Heck, this past spring, I recreated that as the Flamingo Hut on our deck — except for the keno part. So well known is one of our favorite spots that Justin Dennis coined it "Mark's Safe Space" the other day.
Well, it turns out, our favorite spot has a name for us, too. Or at least me. See, my wife and I have worked hard to avoid meat and dairy since 2018 in an attempt to be more healthy. Of course, we didn't anticipate a major job change and a subsequent global pandemic that can keep me rooted in my big chair for 12-16 hours per day. While things like cholesterol remain in check, pandemic inactivity has met my 60-plus-year-old lack of metabolism and the weight has slowly crept back.
Anyway, when we dine out, we tend to be very specific. No cheese on the Impossible Burgers. No ranch with the celery and carrot sticks. French fries must be crispy. That last one is less of a dietary thing and more of a preference. I hate wimpy fries.
I guess we are regulars enough that we have earned a spot inside their computer system that retains such ordering habits. And a bartender a while back who thought my name was Martin gave us this nickname: "PickyMartin."
It delights me to no end, frankly. If I could start a bluegrass banjo band, I would name it Picky Martin. The current bartending corp also finds it amusing, and good-natured ribbing ensues. But soon the weather will turn cold, and patio bars will close. It will be back to hibernation for six months. And that makes me sad. 
Hey, my much-promised take on the covid era is going to be ready for Thursday. Scout’s honor! Until then, let's make today count!
And here are more of the things you need to know about what's happening in the Mahoning Valley:
The scheduled withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan meant many of the Afghan allies Rick Stockburger and other veterans of the War in Afghanistan made during their deployments would be left behind — possibly to face retribution, including death, at the now-unfettered hands of Taliban fighters who quickly regained control of the region.
Stockburger, now president and CEO of BRITE Energy Innovators in downtown Warren, his former Army comrade Matt Carpenter and another Ohio combat veteran coordinated from their homes with two other unnamed “foreign heroes," Hungarian special forces and other allies inside Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport to help get about 150 Afghan nationals out of the country. Reporter Justin Dennis has the exclusive details today.
This week in "An Inclusive Table," Eartha A. Hopkins discusses systematic racism: "I am named after my late grandmother — an outspoken woman who shared stories growing up Black in York, Ala., during the 1940s. Her chilling tales of the whispers of lynchings and discrimination serve as a guiding principle on how I move in this world as a Black woman." Mahoning Matters
Among the industry leaders featured in today's Business Updates are Reyers Shoe Store, Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber and Wayne Savings Community Bank. Mahoning Matters
People who received the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine had “slightly higher” antibody levels than those who received the Pfizer shot, according to a new small study. But what does it mean? We take a look. Mahoning Matters
Jesse Reed, a Youngstown area native artist, wants to help inspire people to follow their dreams with a series of murals around the city. WKBN
The Youngstown Board of Education is meeting Wednesday with district administrators to finalize the first draft of the academic improvement plan expected to be sent to the state by Sept. 14. The Vindicator [May encounter paywall.]
A black bear was spotted in Canfield over the weekend near the corner of state Route 62 and Leffingwell Road. WFMJ
Soft-skills and technical training through the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition’s WorkAdvance program has prepared six people for job interviews this week at General Extrusions. The Business Journal [May encounter paywall.]
Curses! In this week's installment of The Earnheardts, Mary Beth discusses boundaries as the family's kids grow older. "One of the rules of our house is that the kids are allowed to use profanity," she writes. "I was not allowed to swear when I was a child, and this restriction resulted in a lifelong love of profane language. I wanted better for my kids." Mahoning Matters
“Good luck!”
Nancy Sakmar, on Nicci Farris and Kelli Catullo, sisters-in-law who recently opened The Beauty Boutique in Boardman.
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Dana School of Music faculty members Wendy Case and Caroline Oltmanns will perform during a Youngstown State University Music at Noon concert at 12:15 p.m. at Beecher Court in The Butler Institute of American Art, 524 Wick Ave., Youngstown. The performance is free and open to the public.
To see what else is going on around the Mahoning Valley, check out Mahoning Matters’ event calendar here, or click the Events tab on the top menu at
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About the Author: Mark Sweetwood
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