Chefs reach out at the Downtown Welcome Table
In 2015, local restaurants have been helping out more than ever at the Haywood Street Congregation’s Downtown Welcome Table. Every Wednesday, volunteers serve a hot, nutritious meal to the community. Hundreds of people line up for the meal, which is served restaurant-style with cloth napkins and shared tables.
In an Eats Drinks blog, volunteers discuss what makes the Downtown Welcome Table so special:
“We want it to look like the nicest restaurant in town,” said Emily Bentley, companion table coordinator at the Haywood Street Congregation. “Each one of these things help to send a message that everyone has worth and value. Overall, we want people to feel welcome, feel loved and maybe not just feel full with food, but full of a sense of community and belonging,”
It is an open invitation to be a part of something bigger – a part of a community.
Through Chefs at Welcome Table, at least one meal per month is provided by a local restaurant or food provider. The participating restaurant donates and prepares the meal, and spends the Wednesday serving at Haywood Congregation. You can donate directly here.
A 2014 Citizen-Times article describes the beginning of Chefs at Welcome Table:
A year ago, Button had six restaurants on board. Now there are 16. All she really had to do was invite chefs and owners to visit the bustling dining room of the brick church on Patton Avenue and let them see the Welcome Table in action.
After that, it was pretty much, “Where do I sign up?”
“Liz very wisely took me over there one Wednesday while the lunch service was going on, and I was blown away by the concept of this very special event,” said Dave Herrington, general manager of Wicked Weed on Biltmore Avenue, which served the meal last month.
“Certainly we’re all familiar with soup kitchens, but what they’ve done is elevate this experience to a white-tablecloth, round-table meal with china and silver and people being served and drinks refilled, and it’s the opposite of being dehumanizing,” Herrington said.
The participating restaurant collects donations via orange envelopes for a month leading up to their meal.
This year, Green Sage Café guests donated to Downtown Welcome Table via the Cup Worthy program. This program helps the environment as well: every time guests brought their own cup for a to-go beverage, Green Sage donated 20 cents.
We at Heirloom Hospitality Group are proud to sponsor this effort. We help to recruit new restaurants and food providers to get involved, and have been so impressed with the level of support in the Asheville community.
Here’s a glimpse into a recent meal served by UNC Asheville Dining Services on our local news, WLOS-13.
Our friends in West Asheville are joining the effort. Here’s the story from the Barleycorn and Sunnypoint Café.
This summer, Chef Anthony and the staff from Strada won cooking competition at the FRS Asheville party and donated their prize – a new refrigerator – to the Haywood Street Congregation kitchen.
It has been an incredible journey, and the outpouring of support will continue into 2016.
At present, there are more than 25 participating restaurants:
Additional sponsors include HomeTrust Bank, Food Lion Feeds Charitable Foundation, The United Methodist Appalachian Ministry Foundation, Advantage Printing and 11Eleven Creative.
Thank you so much to all involved in the Chefs at Welcome Table program.