Due to the overwhelming unknowns surrounding the spread of the Coronavirus, The Cantina at Historic Biltmore Village located outside the gates of the historic Biltmore Estate inAsheville, NC shut their doors to the public on March 17th, 2020. The very next day the National Restaurant Association informed President Trump and congressional leaders that they estimate a $225 billion decline in sales among independent restaurants resulting in the loss of 5-7 million jobs. The owners of The Cantina, Sherrye and Anthony Coggiola, knew upon closing that during this trying time they would be focusing their efforts entirely on supporting their staff. Anthony, co-owner of The Cantina and CEO of C3L Associates, then made a donation and a commitment. "My companyC3L Associates and I have committed to feeding The Cantina employees and their families until the economy of the service industry stabilizes".
C3L Associates specializes in assisting agribusiness, healthcare, and humanitarian related organizations with procurement of critical assets, development, and sourcing around the world. 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 devastating effect farmers and food suppliers will be experiencing. Food suppliers are experiencing an unprecedented and devastating blow to their businesses. Anthony explains that "via this commitment we will be providing comfort and care not only for The Cantina staff but also our food suppliers."
During this time of great unrest and unknown The Cantina at Historic Biltmore Village remains closed. However, every week staff members come for a curbside pickup of boxes filled with fresh food to feed their families. "These are scary times for us all. We feared that by closing our doors we would lose connection with our staff," says Co-owner Sherrye Coggiola. The Coggiolas go on to explain that a big part of the Cantina Comfort and Care plan is the opportunity to foster further connection and communication with their staff "this plan allows us to see our employees every week" Anthony explains,"we are able to check in with them. From a safe distance of at least 6 ft. 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. Together we will get through this. We intend to not just survive but to thrive," Sherrye Coggiolasays with a proud grin. The Cantina family is indeed a big one. While they have a little under 50 employees The Cantina Comfort and Care plan feeds 140 people a week. 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 make sizable donations of food to local organizations such as ABCCM and Manna Food Bank. "Everyone could us a little extra comfort and a little extra care at this time" Anthony says while smiling alongside his wife. While the doors to The Cantina are currently closed they will continue to provide food for their staff and their community. If you would like to contribute to their efforts to feed displaced hospitality workers you can purchase a gift card here.