VIRGINIA BEACH — Customers at Commune might not be able to find lemons or avocados on the menu, but they will find locally-sourced, sustainably grown food from the region.
Kevin Jamison has owned and operated Commune since October 2015 but before that he worked on a farm where eating local was his primary food option.
“When I was considering opening a place I wanted to run it with a farm to table menu,” he said.
Moving from New York, Jamison said the area didn’t have as rich of a farm to table movement as the farms he was used to, so a big part of his business is advocacy and education about local farming.
Commune operates just like any other restaurant with the added mission of sourcing as much of their menu as possible locally and sustainably.
Jamison has developed relationships with farmers and producers all over the state to supply his restaurant and over the past few years more farms have been opening up closer to Commune.
His customers are generally supportive of the menu choices, he said
“It can be difficult if you’re not used to that way of eating,” he noted, adding sometimes he’ll get customers who wonder why they can’t have lemon with their water but once he explains how the restaurant works, they understand.
In addition to running the restaurant, Jamison partners with the city’s school system’s culinary classes to educate students on the ways they can use locally-grown food in their menus.
He also partners with the city’s district chef, Kip Poole, who runs The CROP Foundation, to teach people how to make a career in sustainable foods.
With more than 95 percent of the menu coming from within 100 miles of the restaurant, the cost isn’t as high as customers might think, Jamison noted.
Commune adjusts menu prices and offerings based on what’s in season and overall they aren’t more expensive than other more traditionally sourced restaurants, he said.
His main goal with Commune is to show people how eating locally and sustainably can be possible.
He doesn’t discount the effort that goes into it but he hopes through his advocacy efforts, he’ll spread the word.