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Harrisonburg is partnering with several other agencies to promote the ever-growing food culture in Harrisonburg. After receiving some grant money, a new program and competition, "What's Cooking," was developed to build on the growing food culture in the region, support existing businesses, cultivate new entrepreneurs, and serve as a model for future projects. Those interested in participating were invited to pitch their initial idea and received constructive feedback


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Cardo Lianez about 5 years ago

Better Vegan/Vegetarian options. It's a growing market. Yes, there are some items showing up on more upscale menus at existing establishments, but I see a need for full vegan (creative, not just a salad, black bean burger….) eatery. Doesn't have to be a full restaurant (that would be nice though).

5 Supports
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Rosalind OBrien, Web and Graphic Designer about 5 years ago

I second Cardo's comment. Something healthy and affordable. I feel like vegan/vegetarian restaurants are often pricey, but it would be great to have more farm-to-table restaurants with reasonable prices and healthy food options.

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Jessica G about 5 years ago

Agreed. Harrisonburg is lacking restaurants that are healthy and affordable. Seems you can eat cheap or well, but not both.

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Rosalind OBrien, Web and Graphic Designer about 5 years ago

I think more cafes close to downtown could do really well. We currently lack a quiet downtown cafe where someone can spend a few hours working on their computer.

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Marisa Shank about 5 years ago

I also agree with both the vegan/vegetarian and the downtown coffee shop ideas. The downtown dining scene has become mostly burgers.

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Cardo Lianez about 5 years ago

^^+10 on Rosalind's comment. They key here is 'quiet'. I'm currently shuffling between Starbucks on Port (not very quiet, small tables), Greenberry's (not always quiet) and BN (soon to close I think). Not sure how a business makes 'quiet' their commodity, but I'd buy it. :-)

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Zack Germroth, Public Relations consultant about 5 years ago

I'm entirely on-board with a vegan-based restaurant. In full disclosure, I shop Martin's and Food Lion, but absolutely love the Friendly City Co-op market. I'd be a "regular" at a mid-priced, sit-down restaurant which featured both locally-grown produce and vegan options. This would also serve as an economic and tourist draw for Harrisonburg, if done "right" and properly promoted. And, yes, I do shop the Farmer's Market occasionally, but that's not a sit-down meal, yet could serve as a feeder-system for the restaurant. Zack

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Robert Williams about 5 years ago

I am not the healthy, food conscious type. I am what I think is mainstream. I have nothing again a vegan restaurant or quiet cafes. I would like to see more of the traditional chain restaurants come to town, like Olive Garden, Famous Daves. TGI Fridays, etc. Outback has a good crowd each night as does Chilis, so there is a market for it. Market Street has become nothing but a fast food strip.

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Christine Anderson about 5 years ago

I would like to see more one-of-a-kind restaurants outside the downtown area. I'd especially like to see them focused on preparing fresh, seasonal, locally-sourced food and using menus that change often. The Rt. 33 corridor has way too many national chains. They serve a purpose, but they do nothing to elevate our local dining scene. I feel like people visiting the area arrive in Harrisonburg and sometimes pick the first thing they see as they come off the interstate. Or, they want to go someplace unique, but downtown parking and one way streets can be kind of overwhelming to someone unfamiliar with town. Personally, I feel like downtown restaurants are often a hassle on weekdays because of the gate on JMU's campus. I work on campus, and I'll admit that having to drive all the way around on Reservoir or Main St. to get downtown is sometimes a dealbreaker. I'd like to see more of what we have downtown on the 33 east corridor.

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Jill McGlaughlin about 5 years ago

I may be repeating Christine but I, too, would like to see more local restaurants with a healthier focus out in the "Mall" area. I'd like to see them using fresh ingredients and not the pre-made/mixed sodium and sugar filled products. Restaurants that have gluten-free and dairy free options would be great, too!

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Sherrie Good about 5 years ago

There was a nice vegetarian restaurant in downtown Harrisonburg a few years ago. It didn't last too long. I have been a vegetarian for 43 years, and I can almost always find vegetarian options on a menu. I am sure being a vegan is harder. I would love to see the jail torn down downtown and bring back the Ole Virginia Ham Café!!! Or at least a diner besides the L&S which has such limited seating. I would love to see a Gluten Free Bakery. There was one where I lived in Alexandria and there were always lines out of the door. We have the Artful Dodger where you can go and hang out with your computer. What we need is subsidized tax breaks or some incentive to get and keep more retail downtown. You need a healthy mix of retail and restaurants for a sustainable downtown. So sorry to see the toy store go...

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Peaceful Yard about 5 years ago

Thinking in terms of a federal subsidy for some part of the local food supply or labor component of a service the private sector can't provide would be good.

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Jessica G about 5 years ago

I would love to see better lunch options in Harrisonburg. In particular, I feel there isn't really anywhere to get a good salad. Salad Creations is too expensive, and one can only eat so many Cobb and Taco salads. McCalister's is fine, but I would like more variety.

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Mary Bendfeldt about 5 years ago

Since Shenk's Bakery is closing, we probably need another baker that provides crusty chewy bread and such things.

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