Local Currents: Local Solutions to Exotic Problems


“We aren’t doing takeout orders over the phone, you have to come in.”  — Umami Burger receptionist

Planning dinner during finals week can be a bit dicey with schedules in flux and study groups coming and going. As I was returning from a joint meeting of the Eco Warrior Project and Growers First in Arch Beach Heights, my wife, Sarah, called and asked me to pick up some of the new Umami burgers in North Laguna.

It’s a bit of a drive (in my mind) to get from Pearl Street, where I was dropping off James Pribram, to Boat Canyon. Traffic being what it is in summer, I called Umami Burger to see if they could get my order started. I was told that I’d have to come in to order, that they weren’t taking orders over the phone this week

…So I drove to Boat Canyon.

When I got to the Umami Burger restaurant, I was told that they are not doing any takeout orders this week. Obviously, I was a bit miffed at driving across town to find this out (and confused why a restaurant that was at least a third empty couldn’t put some burgers in a bag), so I asked to speak to the manager.

First the manager was in the back, so I sat and spoke with friends who were just completing their meal. They felt the burgers were a bit pricey but good.

Now the manager was wrapped up with a plumbing supervisor…


I have a limited appetite for standing around in burger joints waiting for managers, so I drove to Adolfos and ordered four cheeseburgers and fries to go with a beer, chips and guacamole while I waited and watched sports on TV. Four burgers, fries, a beer and chips and guac were $24.


When I got home, I didn’t tell my hungry family where the burgers came from, but I did ask them what they thought. One of my son’s friends, who was studying for finals, thought it was the best burger he’d eaten. Everyone thought they were great burgers. Then I told them about my plight at Unami and my solution: Adolfos.


Before I drove down the hill, I had been meeting with two local non-profits that are making a real difference around the world both for the environment and to end poverty. Both work by doing work on the ground in exotic locations and connecting those places and people with the global marketplace.

Whether its over-priced burgers, environmental disasters or global poverty, they all seem best served with local solutions.



David Vanderveen is a Laguna Beach resident, husband, father and energy drink entrepreneur. His email is [email protected].

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