Local cáfe and market launches new food takeout program

Blue Phoenix now offering pre- made lunch and dinner boxes to community


A sample pre-made box. Photo by Nuoya Zhou, ‘18.

Nuoya Zhou

Don’t want to stand in line for lunch during peak times when you really need to get some readings done before your class starts?

The Blue Phoenix Café at 110 W. Washington St. can help. The café recently started a grab-and-go food program that offers premade lunch and dinner boxes.

The boxed meals change each week and range in price from $10 to $12.

Blue Phoenix Chef and Co-Manager Amenie Hopkins said she wants not only to encourage people to eat healthier, but also to help them realize how easy it can be to eat healthy.

Blue Phoenix tested the program in the week leading up to Thanksgiving Break. It sold all eight boxed meals it offered, including gluten-free mac and cheese, baked apples and braised greens. The eco-friendly café uses completely recyclable and microwavable plastic boxes to package their meals.

Hopkins said she really wants to collaborate with the W&L Café 77, known by students as Co-op. The director of Washington and Lee’s Dining Services, Michael Zanie, said in an email that he was also interested.

“I am always on the lookout for good ideas, best practices and potential partnerships,” he said. “I am interested in learning more about the Blue Phoenix Café’s program, and plan to check it out myself.”

Certain students also said they also looked forward to this new initiative.

“Co-op is the center of our campus,” Yoyo Yang, ‘18, said. “For people who don’t have much time for lunch breaks, they just want to grab something and go, like the sushi box that’s already there. I really look forward to having a healthy type of box in the future.”

Blue Phoenix opened its doors in March 2016, replacing what used to be Healthy Foods Co-op. Hopkins was the general manager of Healthy Foods before it closed.

In a former interview with the Rockbridge Report, Hopkins said a number of reasons related to the shop’s size caused its demise.  She said it was hard to compete at the local level because  larger grocery stores like Kroger and Wal-Mart have started to offer their own organic, in-house brands.

Located across the street from Hillel, Blue Phoenix brings more food choices to W&L.

“It is a pretty common refrain here that students don’t have many vegetarian options on campus,” Damon Hopkins, Amenie Hopkins’s husband, said. The couple said they wanted to offer more local and organic options for people with restricted diets.

Aside from food quality, the Hopkins said they also care about local hunger. Blue Phoenix runs an “Everyone Eats Policy” that fights against hunger in the Rockbridge area and guarantees all that customers can be fed.

Blue Phoenix has vouchers that represent a meal that was already been purchased by a customer. People who do not have enough money to buy for themselves can grab a voucher to use to purchase their food in place of money.

Currently, the café has a big box on the checkout desk full of vouchers waiting to be redeemed.

“We live in a really giving area,” Hopkins said.

The “Everyone Eats Policy” is going “incredibly well” with a high participation rate. There are people in the community who continue to donate and others who come in regularly to redeem the meals.

Hopkins said Blue Phoenix trusts members in the community to be honest with their personal financial condition.

“It’s honor system,” Hopkins said. “It really is.”