the state

– of possibly good pizza. by vastate
Wednesday, 25 February 2009, 17:59
Filed under: -of eats, -of harrisonburg, -of jhumphrey, -of localism

so, i’ve spent several weeks grilling friends and strangers for the scoop on franklin’s.


i have not been to franklin’s cafe and wine bar yet.

but i harbor a deep skepticism.

i had great hopes as the building was outfitted with huge glass windows and sat clean and sleek on the corner of mason & market.


but then the junk began to appear.

the plastic chairs, the weird bad writing on the windows, the inexplicable cart, the multiple cheap signs with sad graphic design.

i heard some bad reports on the wine and food.

costco has a much better wine selection.

they won’t tell you how much the wine costs.

nobody who works there knows anything about wine.

the sandwiches come in red plastic baskets.  which is an upgrade from the styrofoam plates.

the lunch is not that great.

the atmosphere is tacky and cluttered.


and then, i began to hear a little, repetative, bright spot in all the disappointment:  the pizza.

this funny little video has a shot of the grilled pizza.  which i hear is lovely.  really lovely.

crisp.  charred in the right spots.  and abundance of toppings.  a willingness to allow personalization.

this is what i imagine and hope for:


so, here’s my not-so-humble advice to you, franklin’s:

1.) strip your restaurant.  of almost everything.  the plastic.  the posters in cheap frames.  the writing on the windows.  the ‘grand opening’ sign.

2.) paint it white.  everything.

3.) hire a real graphic designer to help you out.  multiple generic fonts are never cool.  (okay, this is an annoying an overly picky suggestion.  i deserve any comments telling me to stick to the important things…but seriously, look:)

franklin1 +     franklins2 +    franklin22

3.) get some real plates.


4.) go with the pizza. PIZZA.  you would have the market.  there is no good pizza in harrisonburg.  you could be the place to go for grown-up beautiful pizza.  and a good pizza is truly a beautiful thing.  don’t be a cafe.  be a pizza place.  focus.  hone it down.  channel your resources and energy to the one thing you have going for you.

5.) go local. with as much as possible.  the veggies, the wine, the meat.  shop at the farmer’s market. buy your meat from T&E’s.  buy your wine from local vineyards.  and USE this to your advantage.  flaunt it.  write it on everything.  raise your prices, if you have to.  people will pay for local.

so, this is sort of an alternative restaurant review.

i’ll write another – hopefully exceptionally pizza positive – after i actually eat there…


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I feel your skepticism, and it’s why I haven’t been there yet either. Wrong thinking or not, if an establishment isn’t careful with their image, I don’t feel I can trust them with the food. The location is strange too. It just seems so…vulnerable…there on the corner. I imagine when UE is finished the vibe will improve.

Comment by Alison

While driving by yesterday I thought they were cleaning the inside as a big mess was on the sidewalk. I must agree with you they need to “clean it up” and make it more attractive. Stick with the type you started with, it is clean and looks good.

Comment by Frankie Boy

I tried this place before the grand opening and was very disappointed. The soup may have been good, but to have it served in styrafoam, with a small plastic spoon( no soup spoon available) was unacceptable. I will need to see a different atmoshpere, and here positive testimony before I will venture back. I think the idea of a pizza emphasis may be their ticket for success.

Comment by Sadie

It is a train wreck. I wish I could take the place over. The food was made by the hostess/waitress/chef on a sandwich maker with store bought white bread and served in red plastic baskets. The red wine was HOT in temperature and the tables were decorated with plastic beer advertisements. What is wrong with this guy? He took a place with tons of potential and ruined it from the inside out.

If I wanted a flattened grilled cheese sandwich made with american cheese singles and served with ruffles potato chips I wouldn’t leave my house.

Franklins… let someone else take over this place… PLEASE! You really really suck. Turn it around or clear out.

Comment by Rebekah

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