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Vegetarian grocery store opens in Waynesboro

November 20, 2003|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - It's not the kind of grocery store where you can walk in and ask, "Where's the beef?"

The Golden Soybean, a vegetarian health food store that opened this month at 215 W. Main St., doesn't sell beef, pork or poultry, although customers can buy an ersatz version of hot dogs, burgers and chicken patties made from textured soy protein or wheat gluten.

Some products in the store use a play on words. There's "beaf" and "jerquee" instead of beef and jerky. "Skallops" is a popular seafood substitute. Spaghetti is made from corn.

"We sell fake chicken, hot dogs, corn dogs, burgers, sausage and bacon," said Debra Banks, who with her husband, Alvin Banks II, opened the store Nov. 9. The official ribbon cutting takes place at 1:30 p.m. today.

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She said the vegetarian meat products, because of their real meat-like texture, help some people make the transition from a meat to meatless diet. "They miss the texture of meat so this helps," she said.

The Banks have been vegetarians for nearly a decade, Debra said. Their three children, Autumn, 7, Alvin III, 5, and Alijah, 4, follow their parents at the dinner table.

The children are homeschooled in the mornings by their mother.

"Alvin opens the store at 10 a.m. and I come in at 1 p.m.," Debra Banks said.

The family worships at a Seventh-day Adventist church, and about half of the members of the denomination are vegetarians, she said.

The Golden Soybean is the only local vegetarian grocery store, she said, a claim backed up by Tom and Heidi Kenney of Waynesboro, who were buying things in the store Tuesday.

"We're so glad you opened this store," Tom Kenney told Banks. "We had to travel 45 miles to Frederick before."

"We know a lot of people in Hagerstown who will come here, too," his wife said. "There's no store like this in Hagerstown."

Debra Banks said she will depend on Seventh-day Adventists for much of her customer base. She also said she is "aware enough to know that her customers will come from across the Tri-State area, not just Waynesboro."

She said her husband's computer engineering business pays the bills so the family's income is not dependent on the store.

She said she is confident the store will prosper.

"People are becoming more and more progressive and more health food conscious," she said. "They want food that doesn't have additives and coloring. They want to eat as natural as possible."

Next year, Debra Banks wants to add a take-out deli that will serve veggie sandwiches and subs.

The store's Web site is at goldensoybean.com.

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