One perk of having a comic for a boyfriend is that he sometimes gets free rooms when he performs out of town – and if I arrange it correctly, I get to go too! I grew up in Wilkes-Barre, PA (Kingston, specifically) which is just a stone’s throw away from Scranton.
Scranton “The Electric City” is undergoing the same young, creative revitalization that I love about my current home in the Lehigh Valley. Small businesses, music and DIY efforts have continued to pop up all over the city in the past several years.
But there’s a bonus for vegan-folks: there is a stretch of Adams Ave., downtown, that is a tiny vegan mecca. A record store, next to an all-vegan cafe, next to a tattoo shop with vegan ink, next to a boutique that sells fair-trade items and handmade vegan bath and body products. Who would have thought!? Scranton! Giving Portland a run for it’s money!
We got into town just in time to grab some dinner at Eden – A Vegan Cafe. After running into a friend from Bethlehem (small world, eh?) I took my indecisive brain to the menu board to choose something for dinner. It is such a luxurious novelty to be able to order anything on a menu, as is. I went with a pizza with black olives, spinach and chicken and Ryan got an “Elvis burger” with housemade burger patty, tempeh bacon and cheddar cheese. I don’t know if we stopped to breathe or even chew.
We went back for lunch the next day and Ryan got a chicken + steak cheesesteak and I had an Italian hoagie. An Italian hoagie! So simple, yet so nostalgic. I remember my elementary school used to do “hoagie sales” (oh, Wilkes-Barre, I love you and your quirks) and it was always the best lunch for a bunch of hungry third graders. Eating lunch that day was a quiet little moment of connecting to my childhood, through food (a hoagie no less!) near my hometown.
Bonus: The employees and owners are the sweetest potatoes! Incredibly kind and friendly, they help to make the atmosphere welcoming and upbeat. Ryan hasn’t stopped talking about it, and I can’t wait to go back… Or convince them to open a location in the Lehigh Valley (pretty please with Vegenaise on top!?).
After spending the next morning having lunch with my (super-awesome) Mom, we went back to swim at the hotel, spent a little time flopped across the huge bed reading, and then went back to town.
GreenBeing is a beautiful shop that sells vintage + handmade items. Repurposed accessories, a great selections of men’s and women’s vintage clothes, art, housewares and jewelry can be found here, in addition to some absolutely awesome classes you can take through the shop if you’re a local – anything from screenprinting to bookbinding.
Next door, I got to see a dear friend Amanda, who is co-owner of The Fanciful Fox (along with her sweetheart Mom, Kathie). I met these two at Vegetarian Summerfest 2011 and instantly fell in love with them. Their presence alone is calming yet energizing, and I can honestly say they are two of the kindest, nicest people I’ve ever met.
The Fanciful Fox carries only fair trade and vegan items: gorgeous purses, modern necklaces, coffees and teas, but the real bounty is found in the bath and body products Amanda and Kathie make in-house. Bath fizzies, lotions, candles, linen sprays, bar soaps, shampoo and conditioner… they have a little empire of ethical goodies.
… and if you can’t make it Scranton, you can still order from their shop online.
Saturday evening I was contacted by Lisa, a Save the Kales! supporter who has been so incredibly encouraging since we found each other over the last year. Sometimes, out of the blue, just when I’d need it most, I’d get a sweet email from her which would rejuvenate me and get my swirling brain back on track.
We hadn’t met in person yet, so I was beyond happy to go to her house and meet her! There, we sat for hours at her table with her husband and all of their wonderful dogs and cats, laughing, talking about ideas for the future, sharing stories, eating nutritional-yeast covered popcorn, plums, and imbibing in homemade wine. It was a truly lovely evening and I do feel as though I’d known them forever. (Thank you, both.)
I am so full of gratitude for a wonderful weekend reconnecting with friends, family, familiar city streets and new joyful discoveries. If you’re ever in Scranton, I hope you’ll stop by Adams Ave. and say hello to these wonderful people bettering their community and the world through compassion.
- Autumn whipped body butter (it smells like October!), and men’s facial serum and beard oil, from The Fanciful Fox
- Color-blocked bamboo mixing utensils made by The Kitschy Kitchen, from GreenBeing
- Full bellies from Eden Cafe (not pictured)