Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Home Free Bagels

Home Free Bagels is a locally made bagel business that provides employment to Asheville's homeless population.  HFB is operating on behalf of the Asheville Homeless Network and aims to provide NYC-quality bagels to customers that are committed to supporting the local economy both through buying locally made products and employing city residents that would otherwise have great difficulty finding jobs.  Home Free Bagels is contributing to increased employment opportunities for people experiencing homelessness by providing fresh, delicious, locally made bagels to coffee shops and cafes, gourmet grocers and independently owned restaurants in Asheville, NC.  All profits go toward ending homelessness in Asheville. 

You can now find Home Free Bagels at more locations in and around Asheville, and every month you can meet them in person at the 2nd Saturday Artist Market in east-West Asheville.  This Saturday, May 14, you can also purchase their new t-shirt and support their efforts to secure a retail store front!

soon to be on a t-shirt near you!
Home Free Bagels is good for Asheville - it's social entrepreneurship that shows you can have a profitable business and work to solve community challenges.  And it's not just benefitting the homeless issue or HFB themselves, it's good for the businesses who support them as well!  
Chris Sullivan of Home Free Bagels, along with some of the bagel crew
This will be the first in a series of mini-interviews with some of those businesses who sell Home Free Bagels.  By visiting and supporting these businesses, you may discover yet another great local business you didn't know about before, and you're not only keeping your dollars working in Asheville, but working toward ending homelessness. Go get a tasty bagel and read on!

Firestorm Cafe & Books was an early supporter of Home Free Bagels.  Worker/Owner Libertie Valance was kind enough to speak informally on the topic of Home Free Bagels.  Drop by the shop and talk with anyone behind the counter if you'd like to learn more!

About our business
Firestorm Cafe & Books is a worker-owned and self-managed business in downtown Asheville that aims to provide community space, critical literature and an alternative economic model based on cooperative, libertarian principles. We have twelve collective members and operate democratically, welcoming an extremely diverse cross-section of the community.

How we heard about Home Free Bagels & why we support them
We've been working with the Asheville Homeless Network since mid-2009 when they moved their regular meetings to our cafe.
As a downtown organization committed to challenging class and privilege, we want to provide an environment welcoming to people regardless of their housing status while acting as allies to grassroots community advocacy organizations. When Chris Sullivan first floated the idea of setting up a business to employ and empower homeless folks, we were really excited! And to our surprise, it came together remarkably fast.

Impact of Home Free Bagels on our business
Like other cafes, we'd been sourcing our bagels from Bruegger's, the only game in town following the closure of NY Bagels on Merrimon Ave. Despite a higher per-unit cost, moving our business to Home Free Bagels was a no-brainer. In addition to offering a business model informed by social justice and community empowerment, Home Free Bagels demonstrated early on that they could make a better product while providing superior service, including free delivery.

We knew that the community would like Home Free Bagels, but we've been overwhelmed by the response. For the first couple weeks, we kept running out. Our bagel sales increased by more than 30% overnight!

Favorite way to eat Home Free Bagels
We serve a variety of bagel sandwiches but my personal favorite is our Portobello Bagel which combines homemade, spiced black bean spread with grilled mushrooms, thin sliced red onion and wilted spinach. And for variety, I sometimes like to substitute grilled tempeh, sourced from local producers at Smiling Hara Tempeh, for those mushrooms. Ridiculously delicious!

Firestorm Cafe is located at 48 Commerce Street, downtown Asheville.  They're open Monday - Friday, 7:30am - 10:30pm and Saturday from 10:00am - 10:00pm.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

'God couldn't be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.' (Jewish proverb)

You can go back to my March 29 post to see a more recent picture of my beautiful mom, but for today I wanted to use one of my favorites from when she was just a bit younger.  My 'picture of a picture' doesn't do it justice, but I think her beauty and spirit shine through with crystal clarity.

Happy Mother's Day Mom!  I love you! xoxo