Positive Vibes from Eating Out

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My family has been eating out a lot over the holidays — far more often than we usually eat out. It’s due partially to occasions that call for dining out as opposed to coming all the way back home (for example, University of Richmond basketball games), but it’s mostly due to the great deals Groupon has been boasting. Nevertheless, we’ve all been conscious of our need (as well as our desire) to eat healthy, home-cooked meals and watch our waistlines and our wallets a bit more carefully. Tonight, however, Mom and Dad and I decided to try something completely new: Positive Vibe Cafe.

The father and son who cofounded the restaurant in an old renovated bank spoke to my dad’s Kiwanis group about the restaurant’s hiring of men and women with mental and physical disabilities. The son was diagnosed with a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy at a very young age, and his father wanted him to learn job skills and be employable. That’s the entire mission of Positive Vibe — hiring individuals with varying disabilities, providing them training in the food service industry, and helping them seek employment upon “graduation” from the restaurant.

Not only was our service fantastic (and I’m not just saying that in a “Oh, they did the best they could” or a pitying kind of way; we truly had excellent service), the food was incredible. My eyes were a bit bigger than my stomach, so I ordered the Watermelon, Mixed Greens, and Goat Cheese Fritters Salad and the Jumbo Shrimp Stuffed with Crab Meat with sides of Smoked Gouda Mac & Cheese and Celery, Apple, and Fennel Slaw. Even with eyes that will permanently overshadow my stomach, I don’t normally order so much rich food. The shrimp were a special, and there were only four of them, so I thought I’d be fine adding the salad onto my entrée and its requisite two sides. Wrong. Everything, however, was fresh and delicious.

[As usual, I would have snapped pictures, but I was ravenous by the time we arrived.]

Oh, and that’s the other great thing about Positive Vibe — the menu is centered around “comfort food,” but many dishes are catered toward being lean, low-fat, and using steroid-free ingredients (e.g. the buffalo burger). Other dishes are created with organic and locally grown ingredients (e.g. the boneless loin pork chop). The menu has a variety of dishes for practically every diet, including specially designated vegetarian and seafood selections. The menu even boasts legitimate family recipes!

If you live in the Richmond area, I highly recommend Positive Vibe. The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed, the restaurant had the feel of an old seafood place (complete with an anterior bubbling fish tank), and the staff could not have been friendlier or more gracious. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of dining at Positive Vibe, and it didn’t hurt knowing our choice of restaurant was contributing to such a valuable and overlooked mission. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but I was highly impressed, and I will be going back.

If you have been to Positive Vibe, what did you think? Would you give it a try?

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