Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Commune’s Norfolk location closed its doors. The sustainable restaurant is set to reopen this Saturday, Aug. 15 with a new culinary concept, CommunexCROP. In partnership with The CROP Foundation (CROP), an organization dedicated to teaching young culinary students about agriculture and sustainability, CommunexCROP will be a student-led restaurant and nonprofit.
This first-of-its-kind program will be led by CROP and housed in Commune’s 5,000-square-foot location within Norfolk’s NEON District. CommunexCROP will continue to provide the same level of service, quality and commitment to local and sustainable foods as Commune NFK and the Virginia Beach location. In fact, this program strengthens Commune’s focus on community, according to owner Kevin Jamison.
Jamison owns both Commune locations, along with Pungo-based New Earth Farm. “It doesn’t get more community-minded than helping advance CROP’s mission right here in our own backyard,” he says.
CommunexCROP will serve as an immersive classroom and provide culinary students the opportunity to train and work in a kitchen and restaurant environment, led by CROP’s executive director Kip Poole.
“With a robust, year-long four-season educational curriculum, culinary students from both high school and college will receive experience in menu development, cooking, serving, hosting, farming and even event planning,” Poole explains in a press release.
Students will also be able to participate in educational community events, cooking classes, community outreach and other programs that are aimed at providing them comprehensive industry experience.
“What we’re hoping is that these students will not only be gaining the skills that they need to work in hospitality or food service, but they’ll also go away with more community-based, ecological, environmentally based mindsets,” says Jamison.
Staying true to Commune’s signature farm-to-table menu, CommunexCROP will closely reflect the program’s curriculum with a seasonal menu. Dishes for the summer menu include an heirloom tomato salad made with tomatoes from Cromwell’s Produce in Pungo, a buttermilk fried chicken sandwich with pimento ranch and even to-go cocktails.
Jamison believes in the importance of nonprofits creating their own streams of revenue, so all revenue from CommunexCROP will go directly to CROP.
CommunexCROP will be open for pick up, outdoor dining and drive-thru/walk up service, from 11 a.m.–7 p.m., Tuesdays through Sundays.