Any vegan or vegetarian in York County probably knows every local restaurant that has something animal product-free on the menu.
You have to. There's not an app for that -- yet. At least not one that knows every single menu item in every restaurant.
If there was an app for vegan food finding, it probably wouldn't even bother to spare processing power on restaurants with names like Bair's Fried Chicken.
Bair's Fried Chicken is to vegan-friendly restaurant names as "Reality television" is to ... reality television, come to think of it.
But as it turns out, that imaginary app would be missing something great.
Bair's Fried Chicken, located in Central Market in York, is doing something you don't see a place that specializes in fried meat do often. They are catering to the needs of people who wouldn't touch fried meat with a ten-foot kabob.
Annette Fisher, the owner, introduced two new menu items last Saturday: the vegan "Chicken" Salad and the vegan Spicy "Chicken" wrap; as any good vegan knows, if the meat doesn't have quotes around it, it probably had parents.
Annette told me she's not trying to get away from her core business -- she's still selling enough fried chicken to make the Colonel sweat. But she had a couple experiences that made her want to reach out to new customers.
The first came a few months ago when she catered an event at HACC's York campus. Student government leaders wanted to make sure a vegan option was available.
"I'm a fried chicken lady. I don't know much about vegans, or how you make things vegan," Annette said.
So she had a conversation with Sarah Speed, a vegan York resident and the state director of the Humane So-
ciety of the United States.
Speed gave her some vegan recipes and told her what vegans are all about.
"When she goes out to eat, she gets tired of eating a salad. So I said I'd be willing to carry a small sampling of vegan stuff," Annette said.
And so two new items were born, both made fresh and featuring meat substitutes.
"It's not going to be a full vegan outlet. We're just offering a little bit of variety," Annette said.The whole wheat wrap is made of fried tofu, hot sauce, lettuce and tomato. A barbecue version might be in the works, too.
And the "chicken" salad is made with chick peas for the meat substitute, along with onions, celery, relish and Vegenaise, a dairy-free mayonnaise. (Chick peas, by the way, have lots of protein)Annette also said she's making sure to use separate mixing bowls and use soy-based frying oil so the chicken and the "chicken" don't mix quotation marks.
Having tried the food along with vegan coworker Erin James, we're giving it a thumbs up. Vegan friends of ours have done the same.
But the bigger thumbs up come for Annette deciding to open up her mind to a new possibility. She didn't have to offer something vegan. But she did, anyway, and, to her surprise, "the food is, actually, really delicious."
It'd be nice to have more restaurants take that chance. After all, without meat-free options, you're losing some customers. If you don't think that's true, please know that vegans are driving to Baltimore, Harrisburg and Philly just to find places to eat. That's money leaving the county.
And for my vegetarian friends, don't let the name Bair's Fried Chicken scare you off.
"I'm kind of the extreme opposite of vegan with fried chicken," she said in the understatement of the year.
Bair's Fried "Chicken." Much better.-- Reach Andrew Shaw at email@example.com