Richmond restaurant Philly Vegan's pay-what-you-can helps feed the community during tough times

Posted at 9:39 AM, Sep 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-29 18:50:48-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- A restaurant on Richmond's Southside is serving up more than just good food. It's also making an impact in the community.

Samuel Veney is part owner of Philly Vegan. He says love is the ingredient that's responsible for his restaurant's success.

"Everything that we do is with the intent of raising up everyone else," Veney said while describing the working environment at Philly Vegan.

The staff works with intention and they meditate before they start the day cooking with a focus on generosity.

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"We use our energy and our vibration to do that, and we put that into our food, giving back as much as we can and opening our hearts as wide as we can," Veney said.

The 100% vegan kitchen has been serving the community for two years. The food attracts both the plant-based crowd and many carnivores.

"Over 50% of our customers are not vegan. They heard about our food. They tried it, they loved it, and they keep coming back," Veney said.

The pandemic didn't stop Philly Vegan's momentum. In fact, Veney said it has helped attract more business.

"COVID hit a lot of people hard, but during that time, we were already set up for takeout, so when we're closing down, people were looking for places to go, and we were one of the ones that were still operating," he said.

Veney couldn't sit back while others struggled through COVID.

To help, Philly Vegan started pay-what-you-can days. Once a month on any given day, the restaurant allows customers to pay whatever they could afford.

"If you can't pay anything, we aren't going to question you because you know your situation," Veney said.

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Philly Vegan helped to feed over 1,000 people within the first three months of pay-what-you-can, according to Veney.

And Veney has witnessed how their open hearts have inspired strangers.

"Some people will come in and order $20 worth of food and leave a $30 tip because they know who we are and that we are going to give it to somebody else," he said.

Philly Vegan plans to keep the pay-what-you-can method around long after the pandemic is over because Veney said that it now defined his establishment.

"What do we stand for? Love, peace, and unity," he said.

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Veney hopes to continue expanding his reach and generosity.

"All that you see around you, in two years, comes from customers supporting us. The more you support us, the more we can give back, the more we can give back, the more we are going to give back,"he said.

You can learn more about Philly Vegan by clicking here.

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