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.
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."