Anyone with a basic knowledge of Charlottetown geography knows that Colonel Gray High School is mere steps away from the strip of University Avenue that’s home to all manner of restaurants, mostly fast food ones.
And so every school day at lunch a torrent of teenagers streams east from the school to eat. They say that Charlottetown’s Dairy Queen is the busiest outlet in the world, and I’m sure that this daily influx of students plays a role in this.
Five years ago, in one of the city’s darker moments in recent memory, The Noodle House, a restaurant that lies directly on the Colonel Gray-Dairy Queen axis, became the focus of what appeared to be racially-motivated teenage anger. It was a disheartening episode, and although parts of the community were quick to rally round the restaurant’s owners, it unveiled one of the the seamier sides of the Island Way of Life.
Which is why it gave me such pleasure to walk into Seoul Food, just around the corner from The Noodle House and the Dairy Queen, to find it packed to the gills with high school students, voraciously wolfing down Korean lunches.
They all dashed back to class shortly after I arrived, and I learned from my server that it’s a daily occurrence: one student brought her friends, who brought his friends, and so on and so on.
While the unseemly fear-of-the-unknown still lurks in the darker corners of the Island soul, surely this is a good sign: Colonel Gray students no longer attacking a local Asian restaurant but rather warmly taking it up as their own. Good for the students (and healthier), good for Seoul Food, and good for a more inclusive community.
(The next time you’re at Seoul Food, I highly recommend you finish your meal with their new Quince Tea – it’s the perfect antidote to a damp, cold fall day).