Since this summer hasn’t been too brutal, it’s distressing that I picked the three most humidity-soaked days in July for my visit to Fredericksburg.
Though I didn’t know it before, the effect this had one was to be terribly tired all the time mixed with an unnaturally strong appetite. I dis some serious eating in #FXBG.
One of the places we hit, Vivify Burger & Lounge, intrigued me immediately for its great urban design. The exterior, with its faux polished chrome awning, burnished wood backsplash, light-bulb flanked main sign, and awesome font across the front of the building spelling out Burger + Lounge definitely caught my eye on the street, though I hadn’t found it in a search for area restaurants.
Part of that may be that I mostly searched “farm-to-fork” or “farm-to-table” because I was looking for a serious chef, and very imaginative food for my anniversary stay in #FXBG.
But by Saturday afternoon, after doing some more battlefield touring by foot in the heat, I had built up another unstoppable appetite and decided we had to do Vivify before leaving for DuCard Winery, outside Madison, later that afternoon.
Locally owned, non-corporate fast food
The first thing I noticed upon entering was that the place emits a different vibe on the exterior — hip, moderne, adult — and on the inside it’s apparent that it’s more of a family-friendly place. Nothing wrong with that at all — offering great interior design to all ages is a good thing!
It’s a simple set-up: You order at the counter and they bring you your food (by a table number you take with you) in plastic baskets lined with grease paper, and unless you ask for a reusable cup for soft drinks and tea, you’ll get a throwaway. (I requested reusable, and real silver ware and was happily accommodated (GGV is an environmentally-conscious earth-loving Virginia blogger — gotta save the planet for the kids and the future, dontcha’ know!).
Still, this was lunch, and just burgers and tater tots (my hubby got their Asian-inspired rice bowl), so I didn’t bring my same aesthetic fine-toothed comb to the experience overall — fast and simple food was just what I was craving to boost me back up.
At first we tried sitting on the awesome rooftop lounge but the blistering heat of that day, even with ample shade-providing umbrellas, was just too much. I bet it rocks though on less hot days, and certainly at night. So we came down into the open-air bottom floor, adjacent to the bar lounge.
Overall the place is really well designed — the graphics, colors, whole look and feel make it great for kids, and young people in general (I’ll bet plenty of Mary Washington students grab a bite there). And I’m not saying it’s not adult friendly; after all, they have a bar, and are open till 10pm on most nights and until 1:30am on weekend nights.
I’d rank this as fast food that’s a cut above. Totally worth it if you’re just snarfing an affordable snack and you dig an environment that’s got a fresh, thoughtful, energetic feel with several seating options. IN this sense the name, Vivify, as defined on their website, really hits home, “To enliven, make vibrant.”
Plus the service was great — really friendly and helpful.
How local can you go?
Finally, this is an example of what local folks can do to way, way, way improve on corporate fast food both in menu options and look + feel while totally keeping revenue local on almost all fronts (not when it comes to shelling out to the Sysco truck, but in other ways).
My encouragement to them would be to find out, for example, like Chipotle did, how they could bring in some locally-sourced foods, whether sodas and condiments, or even chicken from Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farms, or another meat from other even closer farms, even if these items were only available on a “premium” menu. Since the place has so many local bonafides, it would just be awesome to spread that Virginia love a little wider while still being profitable, since they obviously do a tremendous volume business.
I usually don’t eat at this type of place simply because I hardly ever eat lunch and my dinners are usually at cheff-y type places and farm-to-table eateries (because when I do part with cash to eat out, I want it to blow my mind). But it was a good experience (though the tater tots were manifestly weird, like a fried mashed potato, didn’t like them at all).
I can say it’s great place for families with kids, and looked like it was pretty hipster at night at least from the two times I walked past on Thursday and Friday.
— Lindsay Curren, Girl Goes Virginia