The owners of a restaurant in Asheville, North Carolina, have pledged to provide fresh food for laid-off staffers and their families for at least the next 18 months – until the economy bounces back from the coronavirus pandemic.
The Cantina at Historic Biltmore Village, located outside the gates of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, closed its doors on March 17 due to the unknowns surrounding the spread of the coronavirus. Its owners, Sherrye and Anthony Coggiola, decided immediately to focus their efforts on taking care of the staff, according to a company press release.
Anthony is also CEO of C3L Associates, which specializes in assisting agribusinesses, healthcare and humanitarian-related organizations with procurement of critical assets, development and sourcing around the world. After closing The Cantina, he made an announcement: “My company, C3L Associates, and I have committed to feeding The Cantina employees and their families until the economy of the service industry stabilizes.”
In his work with C3L Associates, Anthony has spent the past few decades developing sustainable solutions for disaster relief and recovery as well as food security. As Covid-19 continued to quickly spread, he recognized the overwhelming effects that not only The Cantina and its staff would experience but also the pandemic’s devastating impact on farmers and food suppliers, the press release states.
Food suppliers are experiencing an unprecedented and devastating blow to their businesses. Sourcing fresh food from them serves a double purpose, Anthony explained. “Via this commitment, we will be providing comfort and care not only for The Cantina staff but also our food suppliers.”
Every week, The Cantina’s staff members are invited to come by for a curbside pickup of boxes filled with fresh food to feed their families.
“These are scary times for us all,” co-owner Sherrye Coggiola says. “We feared that by closing our doors we would lose connection with our staff … This plan allows us to see our employees every week. We are able to check in with them. From a safe distance of at least six feet, we are able to ask, ‘Are you OK? What do you and your family need?’ We are able to provide them with comfort and care. We do not want any member of our staff to feel alone. We don’t want any member of our staff’s family to go hungry.”
“We are one big family,” Sherrye adds. “Together we will get through this. We intend to not just survive but to thrive.”
The Cantina family is indeed a big one. While the Tex-Mex restaurant only has just under 50 employees, The Cantina Comfort and Care Plan feeds 140 people a week, the company said.
Moreover, the Coggiolas intend to build upon this plan and to expand the reach of their efforts to other displaced hospitality workers in the area. In the meantime, they’re making sizable donations of food to local organizations such as ABCCM and Manna Food Bank.
“Everyone could use a little extra comfort and a little extra care at this time,” Anthony says.