COVID-19 & Asheville


This Page was last updated on Friday May 22nd, 2020.

I’m going to share as much important info about food, food service, and food safety during the COVID-19 pandemic as I can. Some of the info will be from the state, county, and city, some will be from The Asheville Independent Restaurant Association, as well as The North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association, and other industry organizations, Some will just be in the form of links to news articles and other resources that I think might be helpful to the food and beverage industry, as well as to the eaters in this area. I will try to keep things up to date, but please keep in mind tha I AM NOT AN AUTHORITY ON HEALTH OR FOOD SAFETY. I’m just passing along information from the actual experts & the people in charge.


As we enter Phase 2 of the premature “reopen” of North Carolina, the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association and The NC Department of Health and Human Services, have provided new guidelines…

Click to access NC-DHHS-Interim-Guidance-for-Restaurants-5-19-20-Final.pdf

*** NEW! Ready or not, North Carolina enters Phase 1 to “re-open” on Friday, May 8th. ***
I want to personally encourage WNC to keep on doing what you’re doing, because so far, you’re doing great. Phase 1 could be all good if we adhere to the guidelines, or it could be a ***deadly*** disaster if we don’t. This virus is no joke.
This Phase 1 Executive Order does the following:
• Eliminates the distinction between essential and non-essential businesses
• Allows most retail businesses (with exceptions) that can comply with specific requirements to open at 50 percent capacity
• Allows people to leave home for non-essential goods or services
• Encourages state parks and trails that are closed to open
• Specifically allows people to gather outdoors while following the Recommendations to Promote Social Distancing and Reduce Transmission, and with up to ten people
• Opens child care to working families
• Encourages North Carolinians to wear cloth face coverings when outside the home in order to protect others.
This Phase 1 Executive Order does not change the following:
• A Stay at Home Order remains in place
• Mass gatherings are generally limited to no more than ten people
• Teleworking is encouraged
• Social distancing, hand hygiene, and other methods to slow the spread of COVID-19 should be practiced, including staying at least six feet apart
• Restaurants and bars remain closed for dine-in service and on-premises beverage consumption
• Personal care and grooming businesses, including barbershops, beauty, hair, nail, and tanning salons, and tattoo parlors, remain closed
• Entertainment facilities, including movie theaters, bowling alleys, and performance venues, remain closed
• Fitness facilities such as health clubs and gyms remain closed
• People may leave their homes to obtain medical services, obtain goods and services, engage in outdoor exercise, take care of others or volunteer
• Playgrounds remain closed
• Open retail businesses must meet certain requirements to ensure the safety of their employees and customers
• Visitation continues to be banned at long-term care facilities, except for certain compassionate care situations

Read more HERE.

April 6th, 2020

Buncombe’s stay-home order extended indefinitely – Read more HERE

Face-coverings are now recommended whenever you’re in public, around other people. HERE are the official CDC guidelines and instructions to DIY some shit at home.


Asheville & WNC Coronavirus Community – Updates & Support Facebook Grou
This group is a great way to stay up-to-date, get your questions answered quickly by your peers, and stay connected with other Facebook users in the area.

The best resource for eaters and people in general is probably the NC State University website:

The best resource for people in the NC Food & Beverage / Hospitality Industry right now is the NCRLA website:

NEW! Mothers in Hospitality Direct Relief Fund

Click Here to Tell Congress to Support Restaurants & Our Employees

Click Here to Urge Your Senator to vote YES on the CARES Act

Click Here To Demand Assistance from Your Elected Officials in Raleigh

Donate to the NC Restaurant Workers Relief Fund

And of course the best resource for local Asheville’s independent restaurants is AIR who are here to help, whether you are a member of AIR or not.
Click HERE for AIR’s Restaurant Resources page.

NEW! Emergency Funds for Food, Beverage and Hospitality Workers

Compiled by Sammy Simpson, Kitchen assistant for Urban Orchard, Event staff for Blue Ridge Event Staffing, Activist and Organizer with Just Economics of WNC. Mom of three. If you wish to thank Sammy, give her a tip! Here;

If you know of another fund or resource to add please email it to Sammy at and I will continue to update and share the list.


The New Belgium Bar & Restaurant Relief Fund supports food and beverage communities in our hometowns of Fort Collins, Colorado and Asheville, North Carolina, who are in need of financial assistance due to the COVID-19 economic disruption. We all help out where we can in times of crisis. New Belgium is humbled to have the opportunity to seed this fund with a $50,000 donation and a commitment to match donations up to an additional $50,000. We invite individuals and businesses, who are able, to donate to the fund and help support the thousands of individuals and families in the food and beverage industry that need financial assistance right now. Grants in the amount of $350 per individual will be distributed to help as many qualified applicants as possible, and you can choose which hometown your donation benefits. Food and beverage employees who have been laid off or furloughed in Fort Collins, CO or Asheville, NC…/new-belgium-bar-restaurant-…

Asheville hospitality Workers Relief Go Fund Me Organized by Emily Dunaway
100% of donations will be distributed to Asheville hospitality workers in need. During this completely unprecedented and terrifying crisis in the wake of COVID-19, the hospitality industry and everyone involved in FOH, BOH, and management positions are adjusting to state mandates and restaurant closures resulting in most staff finding themselves suddenly without a job. While utility companies, mortgage lenders, and rental companies are taking necessary measures to ensure we can keep our lights and water on and stay in our homes without a steady income is one of the kindest and humbling gestures, we will need help rebuilding, help putting food on our tables, and most importantly, getting back on our feet financially.…
Help the Asheville Service Industry (tip a local worker)
Every time you have a drink at home during social distancing, consider tipping a local service industry worker through Venmo or Cash App. Refresh this page to get a new person to support. Right now, service industry people are severely impacted by social distancing and quarantine. Lower amounts of patrons and restaurants closing will be tough on everyone. Every little bit helps. Apply form link on this page-

Relief for Buncombe County, NC service workers With Asheville, NC restaurants and bars closing for the foreseeable future, most of our employees will need extra help for necessities in the coming weeks. These will be distributed on a first come, first served basis with degree of need considered and applied to disbursements once these campaign funds become available. Please donate if you can. Share this fundraiser and contact us with any questions. Thank you to all who have the resources to help our fellow service industry workers. Most of us do not have compensation available for sick days or lengthy closures. We’re all in this together.…Apply for assistance by contacting the organizers.

NC Restaurant Workers Relief Fund by NCRLA Foundation (applications now closed)
Any hospitality employee of a North Carolina restaurant or hotel facing significant financial hardship due to a lay-off, furlough or reduction in hours as a direct result of the Coronavirus Pandemic – COVID-19. Examples include but are not limited to cook, server, dishwasher, housekeeper, bartender.

The Restaurant Employee Relief Fund was created (by National Restaurant Association)  to help restaurant industry employees experiencing hardship in the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. Through this Fund, grants will be made to restaurant industry employees who have demonstrated being financially impacted by COVID-19, whether through a decrease in wages or loss of employment. These grants will be made on a first-come first-served basis, subject to availability of funds. 100% of the Fund’s proceeds will go to providing grants to restaurant workers. This Fund is operated by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, whose mission is to attract, empower and advance today’s and tomorrow’s restaurant and foodservice workers. Grants from the Fund will be awarded on a first-come first-served basis to those individuals that meet the eligibility criteria, as reviewed and verified by the NRAEF. A one-time grant of $500 will be disbursed directly to each applicant pending our review and verification that the submitted application meets the prescribed guidelines. Availability of awards will be based on available funds and will be limited to one per individual. Applications will open on April 2, 2020

Southern Smoke Emergency Relief Program Southern Smoke is a nonprofit 501c3 charitable foundation. Our Emergency Relief Program provides emergency funding to those employed by or own restaurants or bars or are employed by a restaurant or bar supplier that are faced unforeseen expenses that cannot or will not be covered by insurance. We stand with those in our community and are committed to “taking care of our own”.

Emergency Corona virus affected workers support fund by One Fair Wage We are providing free, cash assistance to restaurant workers, delivery drivers and other tipped workers and service workers — who are seeing their income decline during this disaster or aren’t able to work because of quarantines or other health concerns. PLEASE NOTE: We are actively raising money for this emergency fund and will be making temporary cash gifts to workers as funding becomes available.

Another Round, Another Rally This relief fund is set up to get funds to as many applicants as possible as quickly as they are able to raise them. ARAR is distributing $500 relief grants, and anyone in the hospitality industry, dishwasher, bartender, server, busser, chef, cook, sommelier, manager, host, concierge, cleaning staff, or barback may apply for funds. The funds are distributed via Venmo, Cashapp, Zelle, or Paypal so those in need can get funds as quickly as possible.…/1FAIpQLSddzKbnPiiK6lZ21B…/viewform

Restaurant Opportunities Centers United Fund
In this time of crisis, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United is providing resources and financial assistance to restaurant workers impacted by the coronavirus crisis. We are temporarily pausing our application form as we work through the thousands of applications already submitted. Please check back tomorrow for an update.…

We are raising funds for our COVID-19 Relief Campaign in order to bolster our Bartender Emergency Assistance Program for the influx of applications we know is coming. We are here to help those in our industry most in need, and we ask you to “help us serve those who serve us”. With the turmoil and uncertainty created but the spreading COVID-19 virus, the service industry, and the beverage industry, is being hit hard. The closure of bars, restaurants, and venues means that these vital members of our community are no longer able to earn wages and take home tips. It is imperative that we as an inclusive, amazing, extended beverage industry community, make sure that our bartenders can go back to serving drinks once all of this is over. If you or someone you know is a part of the beverage industry and needs financial assistance, please apply for an aid grant

CORE: Children of Restaurant Employees is a national nonprofit organization that is dedicated to granting support to food & beverage service employees with children, who are faced with life-altering circumstances and in need of our help. We understand the current crisis across the nation has put a tremendous strain on the F&B community. Due to the large demand and scope of COVID-19/Coronavirus, we want to honor our mission by providing support to food & beverage service employees with children, who have been medically diagnosed with COVID-19/Coronavirus. Documentation is required if you are diagnosed with COVID-19/Coronavirus. You are also eligible for support if you are a food & beverage employee with children, and a family member who resides in the same home is diagnosed with COVID-19 and a doctor requires you to quarantine. Medical documentation and proof of residence will be required. Please note, all regular applications unrelated to COVID-19 will also be accepted at this time.

Supporting local businesses and workers is one thing each of us can do right now. We’ve set up this page with resources, key information, creative initiatives and contacts.

Asheville F&B Tribe Facebook Group Admin Jon Boliek, “I thought it would be a great idea to start a F&B page for all of us F&B folk in Asheville. This could be used for: restaurants and people looking for help, finding a job, whats going on in the city and just having fun chatting and posting funky FOH and BOH memes. Overall the idea is to make this a extremely powerful networking tool for us. Thanks for joining and let’s get the word out!”

Emergency Fund for US Sommeliers affected by COVID-19 restaurant closures With this in mind, we have started a fund that can be accessed immediately by restaurant sommeliers in the U.S. whose hours have been cut or jobs have been eliminated due to the COVID-19 crisis. Applicants will also be given the opportunity to sign up for unemployment coverage to get a full scope of what support is needed. Grants of $250, $500, and $1000 will be awarded to those determined by the board to be of the greatest need. Depending on availability of funds, distribution will begin as soon as possible.
Info and donate;

Bar Method
These are difficult and worrisome times for all of us, especially those in the hospitality industry. Many of us are worried about our livelihood, health, and what’s to come. With restaurants being restricted to limited service and jobs being terminated we are working on ways to help supplement income and provide meals for out of work hospitality and those in need. The survey below is an effort to find out who needs help and who can pitch in. Thank you for your time and please stay safe. With so many amazing people and companies in different cities this list will be used to help see who needs help and who can provide support in different markets. If you represent a brand or company looking to help support, please email me directly

The Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) was formed to save the local restaurants affected by COVID-19. IRC is founded on the simple belief that there is power to affect legislative change if we unite our voice. Save local restaurants! Homepage;

We are the lifeblood of our communities

…and we need help. If you work in the industry, please share your story here. Your story will help tell members of congress and the whole country why we need to save local independent restaurants.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The Department of Labor’s (Department) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) administers and enforces the new law’s paid leave requirements. These provisions will apply from the effective date through December 31, 2020.Generally, the Act provides that employees of covered employers are eligible for:

Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or

Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor; and

Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee, who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days, is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.

Covered Employers: The paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave provisions of the FFCRA apply to certain public employers, and private employers with fewer than 500 employees.…/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employee-paid-leave


Thank you Sammy Simpson!

Take-Out & Delivery

Take-out and delivery have been deemed safe by CDC and Buncombe County Officials, and are both suggested as a “good risk management choice” by NC State University.

Our amazing friends at Asheville Independent Restaurants have been maintaining a very up-to-date list of who is offering take-out and delivery here in Asheville that you can see by clicking HERE.

The simple graphic below, created by NC State University has been very helpful in answering some of my biggest questions around take-out and delivery.

Again, stay informed at

Stay at Home Orders

Here is a LINK to a pdf of the most recent state-wide Stay at Home order issued by Gov. Roy Cooper on March 27th, 2020, it goes into effect on March 30th, 2020 and will be in place until April 30th 2020, which again experts are saying that might be too soon, so be prepared for another 30 days after that should public health authorities warrant it.

The ten-page-long state issued Stay at Home order more or less reiterates most of what was already in the Buncombe County Stay at Home order, but extends the deadline two weeks beyond The Country’s, and details & defines the social distancing and essential business parameters for the entire state, so that now we’re all on the same page.

As far as the parts of the state-wide order that relate to food go, they are virtually identical to the ones outlined by the County, and highlighted in yellow by me. Again, if you want to read the entire Stay at Home order from Gov. Cooper, click HERE.

Below is the official Buncombe County Stay at Home order, which began on Friday March 13th, and is meant to last until Thursday April 9th. Meanwhile, public health experts have been pretty explicit in saying that’s too soon, so The County has left room to extend it as needed. In the jpegs below I have highlighted all of the aspects that deal with food and small business in yellow.

State of Emergency State from City of Asheville

This proclamation was released to the public on March 10th, 2020, and it based on the States of Emergency declared by both the State and the County already

end —

Asheville Food Tours


From left: Chef Jacob Sessoms of Table; Chef William Dissen, The Market Place; Chef Steven Goff, Standard Foods; Chef Katie Button, Curate; Chef Joe Scully, Chestnut and Corner Kitchen; Stu Helm; Chef John Fleer, Rhubarb; Chef Karen Donatelli, Donatelli Bakery; Chef Peter Pollay, Posana Cafe; and Chef Matt Dawes, Bull & Beggar./ Photo by STEWART O'SHIELDS for ASHVEGAS.COM

From left: Chef Jacob Sessoms of Table; Chef William Dissen, The Market Place; Chef Steven Goff, Standard Foods; Chef Katie Button, Curate; Chef Joe Scully, Chestnut and Corner Kitchen; Stu Helm; Chef John Fleer, Rhubarb; Chef Karen Donatelli, Donatelli Bakery; Chef Peter Pollay, Posana Cafe; and Chef Matt Dawes, Bull & Beggar./ Photo by STEWART O’SHIELDS for ASHVEGAS.COM

Stu Helm is an artist, writer, and podcaster living in Asheville, NC, and a frequent diner at local restaurants, cafes, food trucks, and the like. His tastes run from hot dogs and mac ‘n’ cheese, to haute cuisine, and his opinions are based on a lifetime of eating out. He began writing about food strictly to amuse his friends on Facebook.

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