Golden Pony introduces new music variety in downtown Harrisonburg

Maren Mcehee, Writing

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Whereas most music venues in Harrisonburg, Virginia, feature bluegrass and folk music, at the Golden Pony customers can find a wide variety of genres.

From punk to hip hop, owner of the Golden Pony, Paul Somers said he appreciates the diversity in his restaurant, and it’s what he looks for whenever he’s hiring.

“A lot of musicians work here, a lot of artists work here, people who like to do creative things because that’s what kind of attracts them to the space,” Somers said. “But I’ve hired people before that are very different from everybody that works here just to provide a little diversity.”

Front house manager Josh Smith said the Golden Pony has the best food in town. From creating fresh pizzas everyday to using fresh ingredients for their other entrees, the Golden Pony offers homemade food. Smith also said he is a fan of the music selections downstairs.

“The music was something that I wasn’t very familiar with, and it’s been an adjustment, but I’ve come to appreciate a lot of it,” Smith said.

Besides running the restaurant and making sure everything goes smooth, Somers is hands on when it comes to the behind the scenes of Golden Pony. He does a lot of work on his own, but not without the help of his staff.

“I fix the equipment, coordinate any repairs that I can’t do myself, I book all the music shows downstairs for the most part, and I write some of the schedules,” Somers said.

Becky Sasser is a regular at the irregular bar, who goes out for food multiple times a week. She is attracted to the specific location because of the laid back environment of the Golden Pony.

“This is one of the few places that you can see metal bands, and it’s just a more hip attitude here. They have a great patio that’s dog friendly,” Sasser said.

Smith has been working at the Golden Pony for almost a year now and enjoys the work atmosphere. He and the rest of the staff are fairly close, and they all help each other in times of need.

“The entire staff here is pretty tight knit,” Smith said. “The owner is one of the -well actually, he’s the best boss I’ve ever had.”

Despite the restaurant’s growing popularity, Somers does not plan to expand in the future. Among several reasons, one of the most prominent was that it wouldn’t be easy replicate, like a chain establishment. The other prominent reason is that Somers is trying to perfect what he has now before even trying to branch out.

“Right now, my one focus is this location, trying to grow the business as much as we can and perfect everything that we’re doing,” Somers said.

Love for Somers is right next door. Somers is engaged to Leslie Torres, owner of White Unicorn, a hair salon and thrift shop. While Somers says he hasn’t had thoughts of expanding the Golden Pony, he can see his wife expanding the White Unicorn in the future.