Paul Somers

The Golden Pony

Originally from North Carolina, Paul Somers has been a resident of Harrisonburg for a total of twelve years and is the founder and owner of The Golden Pony.

Previously, the Golden Pony was an Ethiopian restaurant opened by the Arefaine family called the Blue Nile. “What was so interesting about their business model at that time was they were the one place that had live music that wasn’t bluegrass or country. This Orthodox Ethiopian couple was totally capable of looking at the situation and saying ‘I have no interest in that music whatsoever, but I see you people are nice people and if you want to play your music downstairs, you can do that.’ and that for me is what gets to the core of why diversity is important beyond our social concepts and affirmative action and things.”

The Golden Pony is also a testament to the comradery of downtown Harrisonburg. To get the lease for the location, Paul put forward a vast amount of work to prove that his business idea was the best use for the location. He didn't have to traverse those difficult waters alone. Chefs and artists from across Harrisonburg helped build the menu and design the logo. An Indiegogo campaign was setup by Paul, with help from Valerie at Larkin Arts, with the goal of $18,500 within 30 days. At the end of the first day, over $10,000 was already secured. The success of the Golden Pony is recognized across the state, winning this year’s Virginia Living Shenandoah Valley’s Best Live Venue award.

The Golden Pony is a refuge to artists and creatives of all kinds across Harrisoburg to express themselves in a legitimate setting supported by family, friends, and enthusiasts.