People in Nashville seem to be fond of saying that Nashville is a big city with a small town feel. Which is charming enough, except that anyone who’s lived in a city that could proportionally be called “big” — as in, say, over 1 million people within the city limits — would argue that Nashville is in no way a “big city.” And I’ve sometimes heard recent transplants complain that this town doesn’t have enough “big city benefits.”

Having grown up in the Chicagoland area, lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, and having spent a great deal of time in L.A. and New York, and having visited cities like Paris and Shanghai, I have some familiarity with big city benefits. And it is with that view that I tell you about one of the most big-city-minded things happening in Nashville lately, which might sound decidedly small-town American: a buffet.

Mind you, it’s not just any buffet: it’s a vegan buffet. A vegan buffet that takes place once a week on the one day when the only vegan restaurant in town is normally closed. A vegan buffet with a rotating themed cuisine style. A vegan buffet where a percentage of the proceeds go to progressive and socially conscious charities.

If you’re still not connecting with what makes this such a big city phenomenon, allow me to explain. In my experience, making use of idle resources is a decidedly urban characteristic. From raves in the ’80s and ’90s to pop-up shops in the ’10s, when prime spaces in crowded areas go unused, people find ways to use them.

Combine that with the Millenial instinct towards social good and unconventional commerce, and, well, we’ve got a pretty progressive thing happening here.

And the kicker is, it’s good. So far I’ve tried the Asian, BBQ, St. Paddy’s, and Mexican nights. I was out of town for the Thai night, and I hated to miss it. I’m looking forward to breakfast for dinner next week.

If you’re new to town from somewhere with more of this kind of mixed-up cool stuff going on, you should definitely check it out, and don’t worry: more like this will be happening soon, I’m sure. This may not exactly be a “big” city, but it’s one of the most creative cities I’ve ever encountered. Once people catch on to the ways we can make greater use of our existing resources, you’ll be seeing more and more creative options come to life. In the meantime, eat up. It’s for a good cause.

One of those elusive Big City Benefits

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