One ACRE Cafe tax-exempt, on course for opening

Sue Guinn Legg • Jul 14, 2013 at 9:07 PM

One ACRE Cafe, “A Community Restaurant for Everyone” regardless of their ability to pay, has received its nonprofit status and is moving full steam through the reconstruction of its West Walnut street location.

Still on track for a “soft opening” in September, the cafe building, at 603 W. Walnut St., has undergone an interior demolition and the rebuilding is on.

Boosted by more than 80 individual, church and corporate supporters, including a professional architect and an interior designer, the work has moved quickly since the May 1 signing of a five-year lease on the former Desert Rose restaurant, putting the cafe well into the third of six phases of development toward its opening, referred to by cafe officials as “the reconstruction phase.”

Booth dividers in the dining room have been taken out. Walls have been removed. The brick bar has been lowered. New picture windows and a new back office have been framed in. A meeting room has been partitioned off. And a couple of slate walls where the cafe’s daily menus and monthly work schedules will be posted are painted, framed and ready for chalk.

Cafe Director Jan Orchard said that 67 volunteers have so far had a hand in the renovation and 600 hours of volunteer labor have been invested. There have been eight large Saturday work days since the lease was signed and many after-hour work sessions with Orchard, a couple of volunteers and the building’s owners, who she said have been as generous in the remodeling as they were in the lease.

Architect Tom Mozen and Designer Ginger Rocket have laid out all the plans. Daltile is wrapping up work on the blue and beige tile floor it donated for the cafe’s restrooms. And Ferguson plumbing will be back soon to install the bath fixtures it donated.

A permit that will allow the insulation to go in is expected at any time. And with the insulation in place, the walls will be closed, the electrical outlets wired in and the cafe will be one final inspection away from the start of interior painting.

Orchard said painting the cafe inside and out will require even more hands and encouraged the many people who have asked how they can help to keep watching the One ACRE Cafe Facebook page for the scheduling of a couple of very large work days.

About a third of the kitchen equipment donated by Eastman has been delivered. And in stage four or the development, “the preparation stage,” Orchard said the considerable expense of purchasing dishes, utensils, pots and pans and all the sundry items needed to run the cafe, will hit.

And then there is the staff. The search for a professional chef with a heart for charitable work and a way with the homegrown produce that is already being offered to the cafe is under way. Two chefs have already been interviewed and a Craigslist advertisement for the special position posted Wednesday drew six inquiries in its first 24 hours online.

“People are excited about being a chef in this cafe,” Orchard said. “Whoever gets it will be a hero.”

All things considered, the cafe’s volunteer board of directors anticipates about $50,000 will be needed to complete the reconstruction, furnish the cafe and begin its operation. Their plans still call for a soft opening in September and hard opening in October.

With the cafe’s new 501c3 status, tax-exempt donations to help may now be made directly to One ACRE Cafe at P.O. Box 3411, Johnson City, TN 37602.

Those who wish to sign up to volunteer or in need of more information, may visit www.oneacrecafe.org, call Jan Orchard at 833-8033 or email jan@oneacrecafe.org, or call Cafe Administrator Michelle Watts at 218-7900 or email michelle@oneacrecafe.org. Regular updates on the cafe’s progress can be found at www.Facebook.com/OneAcreCafe.

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