Six years ago, Pam Smith faced the future and made a decision. The Martinsburg-area mother of three realized her kids would soon be out of high school and getting on with their lives.
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She decided she should get on with her life, too, and tackle something new.
"I've always been a vegetarian, interested in health food. My husband is an old hippie. So it kind of fell into place that way," Smith said
"It" was opening Good Natured Market & Vegetarian Cafe near downtown Martinsburg. The market sells packaged foods, local diary products, "green" housekeeping products, local musicians' albums and much more. The cafe serves fresh-made, vegetarian soups, sandwiches, salads and entrees for lunch and dinner — everything made from scratch.
A couple weeks ago, on her 57th birthday, Smith chatted with The Herald-Mail on Good Natured's front porch about her business.
So that was your career before this?
I worked in music, and then I worked as a graphic artist, and then I worked at NPR (National Public Radio). I worked for "Performance Today." I was a tape-cutter, back when tape-cutter (was an actual position).
Then I had kids, and then I did this.
There aren't many places that make virtually everything they serve from scratch.
And I try to make it affordable, too. A lot of places will have that opportunity to make the food (from scratch), but then they'll charge more — like, they'll charge 22 bucks a plate. I don't do that. I don't have anything above $12.95. Maybe I should (charge more), but then again I feel like I can't. I'm not supporting people eating it every day if I make it very expensive.
Do you only prepare vegetarian food?
Yes. That's basically how I started out. One of the perks is that it's cheaper — I don't have the giant hood and the deep-fat fryer. I'm just basically cooking on a home stove, making things like you would at home, without much grease, just canola oil, olive oil.
I hadn't thought about what would distinguish a vegetarian kitchen from a "regular" restaurant kitchen.
I'm sure there are (vegetarian) places that have all that equipment. But they can also do deep-fat frying of vegetables, which I don't do.
And I try to make everything here, too. We don't use a lot of boxed products. We do use a few things — like bases for some of our soups or our falafel. But most everything is prepared from scratch. Even our desserts.
We do have vegan selections here. And we have gluten-free selections as well.
But I think we're the only solely vegetarian restaurant in the area. And I guess it's sometimes a struggle, because sometimes in the evening, women will call me up and say, "The menu says you have burgers. Are they meat or are they vegetarian?"
I say, "They're vegetarian."