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Sue Guinn Legg

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One Acre Cafe zeroing in on soft opening

October 13th, 2013 2:16 pm by Sue Guinn Legg

One Acre Cafe zeroing in on soft opening

One Acre Cafe, the nonprofit, farm-to-table restaurant where everyone will be invited to eat, volunteer and contribute, has hired an executive chef and is on track for a soft opening in late October.

Executive Director Jan Orchard announced Tuesday that Matt Clark, owner of the former Doe River Bistro in Elizabethton and the current sous-chef at Gourmet & Company, will serve as the cafe’s executive chef. Clark will begin work at the cafe Oct. 21 and in the interim will be volunteering his time to set up its kitchen and food inventory.

Training of the cafe’s volunteer staff began in September and will soon be expanded to two days a week. Interior decorating began Saturday. And early Tuesday morning, a new sign and marquee went up in front of the cafe building at 603 W. Walnut St.

Progress is also being made in the $50,000 capital campaign launched in September to sustain the cafe through its first six months of operation.

Last week, an anonymous supporter pledged a matching donation of up to $10,000 for any contributions made to the cafe through Oct. 31. On Tuesday, Orchard reported $1,555 in donations had been received toward the match gift, bringing the total pledges to the capital campaign to more than $18,000. 

Orchard said the cafe’s soft opening is still tentatively planned for late this month and a grand opening for sometime this fall. “If we get the full match, we feel confident we can open this fall,” she said. 

Citing Clark’s passion for the cafe’s faith-based mission and his background as chef, restaurant owner and marketing associate for the Knoxville-based Sysco food service supply company, Orchard said his selection as executive chef had added new excitement to the momentum that is building as the cafe’s opening approaches.

The new sign designed, built and put in place by Tom Foster of Foster Signs is the latest of many in-kind gifts of materials, equipment and labor donated to the cafe’s renovation. The ongoing interior design work is being donated by Ginger Rocket of Bella Casa Design Studio and the professional restaurant service training is being led by cafe volunteers Erin Horton and Gretchen Hale.

“A lot of people are excited about this cafe,” Orchard said. “What we need now is for them to support us (financially) to create this resource.”

For those who wish to help the cafe reach its capital campaign goal, tax-deductible donations may be made through the PayPal link at One Acre Cafe’s Facebook page or by mail to One Acre Cafe, P.O. Box 3411, Johnson City, TN 37602. All donations made before Oct. 31 will be matched up to a total of $10,000.

More information about the cafe may be obtained by calling Orchard at 833-8033 or emailing, or calling Cafe Administrator Michelle Watts at 218-7900 or emailing 

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