On the hunt: Harrisburg cafe/boutique brewery eyeing Carlisle expansion
A small vegan and vegetarian cafe with a brewery in downtown Harrisburg is looking to branch out to Cumberland County in 2019.
Kristin Messner-Baker, the owner of The Vegetable Hunter on North Second Street, said she hopes to add a location in downtown Carlisle by next spring. She and her husband, John, have been touring sites in the Cumberland County seat and are close to making an offer, she said.
"The goal has always been more than one location," Messner-Baker said. "We really hoped to do it in a college town."
Messner-Baker grew up in Boiling Springs and still lives in South Middleton Township, so Carlisle seemed like a natural fit, she said. It's also home to a growing roster of craft breweries and to Dickinson College, a liberal arts school routinely recognized for its campus sustainability efforts.
"I think it will be a big hit with college-age students," she said. "There is such a growing community of people that eat vegan."
The restaurant got started in 2014 as Crave and Co., but was renamed The Vegetable Hunter. Last year, a boutique brewery was added that serves up a rotating menu of four drafts. The beer menu is crafted to complement the food, with various fruits, herbs and vegetables incorporated into the small-batch brews.
Messner-Baker said a Carlisle location would be very similar to what she runs in downtown Harrisburg. However, the Carlisle menu will focus entirely on vegan dishes, which means eliminating all animal products.
She said she expects to lease a location, hoping to open somewhere on High Street. If the Carlisle outlet is successful, she said she could see adding more locations in the future.
The Vegetable Hunter has been working with the Cumberland County Redevelopment Authority to tour possible locations.