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Trio to fuel Earth Fare restart
Wednesday, 01 April 2020 12:07
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Earth Fare, a health and wellness supermarket chain founded in Asheville in 1975 that grew to 50 stores before shutting down in bankrupty on Feb. 25, will reopen as a five-store, trimmed-down company, possibly in June, if not even earlier.

Sharing their hopes and dreams for the company during an hour-long interview March 30 with the Daily Planet were Randy Talley, one of the founders of Earth Fare, and Bethany Turon, who will lead the new chain. 

Talley, along with the third top leader of the new effort, Mike Cianciarulo, former president and chief executive officer of Earth Fare from 1997 to 2008, worked together for many years at Earth Fare. This time, they will serve as Turon’s “mentors” and “stewards.” Talley said they will “will be responsible for making sure” the company succeeds.

Talley lavished praise on Cianciarulo, noting that “he was instrumental in building us from two stores to 15 stores — and as a profitable and successful business. He previously was president of another grocery store (Goodings in Orlanda, Fla.) He brings a lot of that operation expertise...”

Cianciarulo has referred to Talley as having “a focus and knowledge of this industry, both natural and organic grocery, and a passion for the business.” He has credited Talley with providing “a lot of inspiration for the idea.”

Chosen to serve as the company’s president and CEO is Turon, who has lived in Asheville for a year, and was the senior vice president of human resources and organizational strategy until the previous Earth Fare shut down. 

The newly formed chain will include the original Westgate store as its sole Asheville location, as well as one other North Carolina location — in Boone.

There also will be reopened Earth Fare stores in Roanoke, Va., Athens, Ga., and Summerville, S.C. However, store officials emphasized during the interview that the number of stores likely will increase soon as they are pursuing other store reopenings.

The former Hendersonville Road store was quickly purchased for a price way beyond their budget by Whole Foods, Talley and Turon said of the other Asheville location. 

However, the two Earth Fare officers said that, if the customers express overwhelmng demand for it and an appropriate existing big-box store location can be found, they would be enthused about pursuing a reopening in South Asheville, too.

Coronavirus pandemic strikes
Wednesday, 01 April 2020 12:03

N.C. governor issues ‘stay-at-home’ order through April 29 ... might extend it

From Staff Reports 

Gov. Roy Cooper announced March 27 a statewide “stay-at-home” order for North Carolina in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

It will last 30 days, Cooper said, but may be extended. Enforcement began at 5 p.m. March 30, with the order — possibly — ending at 5 p.m. April 29.

Here’s a full list of what the executive order permits one to to go out to do:

• Seeking emergency services
• Obtaining medical supplies or medication
• Visiting health care professional or veterinarians
• To assist others• Going to weddings and funerals
• Going to pick up groceries or food
• Buy auto supplies or other products to maintain safety, sanitation and essential operations of homes or businesses
• Going out to walk, hike, run, golf or bike 
• Going to parks or other outdoor recreation areas (some playgrounds remain closed)
• Going to places of worship
• Volunteering with organizations that provide charitable or social services
• Going to work that is authorized to remain open.

As of 2:30 p.m. March 30, Buncombe County had 21 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in county residents — and one death.

However, the peak in cases likely will not occur for about three more weeks, based on data, Fletcher Tove, Buncombe’s director of public health emergency preparedness, said during the county’s daily update March 30.

Of the cases to date, 16 people “have recovered and been released from isolation by Buncombe County Health.” Dr. Jennifer Mullendore, Buncombe’s interim health director, noted.

The person who died was elderly and had underlying health problems, Mullendore said. However, those who have gotten COVID-19 have ranged in age from their 20s into their 80s.
Tourism occupancy tax plan unveiled, questioned
Wednesday, 01 April 2020 12:00
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Changes proposed to the Asheville-Buncombe County tourism tax and its structure were unveiled to the Council of Independent Business Owners during a March 6 breakfast meeting at UNC Asheville’s Sherrill Center.

Presenting a Tourism Development Authority occupancy tax report were Brownie Newman, chairman of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners; Esther Manheimer, Asheville’s mayor; and John Winkenwerder, representing the Asheville Buncombe Hotel Association.

CIBO noted in pre-meeting event promotion that they would be addressing: “Are changes to the tourism occupancy tax and its structure coming? What changes do the local governments want (city and county)? What do the hotel/motel folks think? Lots to talk about – don’t miss this lively discussion!”

On a second matter, the CIBO received an update from the City of Asheville Development Services, including changes to the permitting process.


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