Who: VN Managing Editor + her partner in crime, Jeff Rogers
What: A bio-diesel bus tour, courtesy of V Restaurant
When: Sunday, May 18
Why: To scout locations for this veg restaurant-in-the-works
Where: The Mission and Potrero districts, San Francisco
Why: Because this great idea needs a home!
The Scoop: As a magazine editor, I get invited to my fair share of interesting events, but never had I been invited to take a biodiesel bus tour through the streets of San Francisco with a motley bunch of strangers--until now. Hosting this event were Emory Etheridge and Jefferson McCarley (that's them above) the two men behind V Restaurant. Their joint vision is to create the world's greenest restaurant. Right now, it's just a great idea, but they've got passion and drive, so fingers crossed for a late-2008 launch. But first, they've gotta find digs. Hence the tour.
Our meeting spot was a side street in the heart of the Mission. Stepping onto the bus, we got a warm welcome from Peter Jungclaussen, aka the Teacher with the Bus. (When he's not taking folks like us on urban tours, he's taking school kids on fun field trips.) Next, we were met by Emory and Jefferson, two charming, affable chaps who became even more endearing once they handed us a glass of organic wine and asked us to make ourselves at home while we waited for other guests to arrive.
Looking toward the back of the bus, I spied a familiar face: The Urban Housewife herself, Melissa Elliot! I'd met her a month or so earlier at another event, and had recently interviewed her for an upcoming feature in VegNews. Turns out Melisser, as she is known in the blogosphere, has been tapped to create the house sweets for V Restaurant. (She recently started her own custom baking company, Sugar Beat Sweets.) Very interesting. Even more interesting is that in her hands was a tray of some tasty-looking confections. This evening was improving steadily!
With wine in hand and thoughts of cupcakes doing cartwheels in my mind, I took a seat and started chatting with an interesting young woman named AnnaLise Hoopes (that's her, below). I learned she just moved to the SF Bay Area after earning her masters in education at Harvard, and that her passion is humane education. Her companion that evening was a fellow known as The Vegan Avenger, whom she met at last November's SF Green Festival. I met him there too, but never would've recognized him without his costume. Goodness, it's a small world!
Just after 6pm, Peter revved up the bus' engine and off we went. For about 2 minutes. We had to pull over because two guests--one of which was Josh Levine, the brilliant fellow behind Peoples Donuts--were jogging behind us, breathless, trying to flag us down. Oops! Okay: finally we were off, and 'round and 'round the 'hood we went. Along the way, Jefferson, our tour guide and MC for the evening, pointed out various points of interest, including potential restaurant spaces, other veg and non-veg businesses that are thriving in the community, and local landmarks. Finally, we headed off to Portrero Hill, passing the newest Whole Foods before making our final stop at Potrero Hill Community Garden, where we dined on chocolate-dipped strawberries, Tangerine Dreamsicle mini-cupcakes, and Chocolate Peanut Butter whoopie pies. It's amazing we didn't slip into a collective and spontaneous diabetic coma. It'd have been worth it, though!
Here's hoping Emory and Jefferson make their restaurant dream a reality. Because San Francisco--and the world, for that matter--could definitely use one more veg restaurant. We're rooting for you, guys!