Jane Anderson, manager of independent restaurant Asheville, steps down

Since 2003, the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association has taken a stand on many issues on behalf of its member restaurants. For nine years, Jane Anderson, first as a board member and then as CEO of AIR, has been at the forefront as a liaison for the restaurant members. .

This is a responsibility that is often not easy when representing more than 130 competing restaurants, and which has only become more crucial in the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, when the county commission decided to cut capacity at local restaurants from 50% to 30% just before Christmas Day, Anderson strongly opposed the mandate.

“We pushed back and we said, ‘No. The 10 days over the Christmas holidays are so important to our survival, ”said Anderson.

The county commission changed the implementation date to January 3. The delay allowed restaurants to stick to their vacation reservations, use up the food they ordered, and keep their staff working. Anderson continued to communicate his concerns and reasons to officials until the capacity restriction was lifted.

“We did an incredible amount of lobbying with city boards on the 30%, and that was canceled at the end of this month,” she said.

This kind of action is what makes those in the industry say that Anderson is invaluable and why she will be missed as she steps down from her position to make way for “new thinking and leadership,” he said. she declared.

Anderson will leave “big shoes to fill,” said Michel Baudouin, co-founder of AIR and chef / owner of Bouchon French Comfort Food and Rendez Vous French Comfort Food.

“What she did was not appreciated enough,” Baudouin said. “She is very calm; she is not one of those who boast. She just did the job. “

AIR worked side-by-side with city officials and the fire marshal to develop a plan to winterize outdoor spaces last winter so restaurants can continue to operate during the pandemic.

And in March, AIR worked with Mission Hospital to establish an immunization clinic to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine to nearly 300 employees at more than 40 member restaurants administered in two days.

“We are on a solid footing, thanks to Jane. She guided us through our most difficult year; advocated for what we needed with city and county leaders … on our behalf, ”said Chairman of the Board Kevin Barnes, who also owns Ultimate Ice Cream.

Anderson has been at the forefront of the fight for industry needs and improvements during the pandemic and well before. She opposed state law prohibiting the sale of alcohol until noon on Sunday, on behalf of the restaurant’s members. AIR and its supporters across the city and state have moved in favor of the Brunch Bill and the time has been adjusted to allow alcohol to be sold as early as 10 a.m. on Sunday, effective June 30, 2017.

Now, she is ready to pass the torch to a successor.

“I want someone with the most energy to lead the charge on behalf of our 130 restaurants,” she said. Anderson is leading the Hiring Task Force to find a new Executive Director and will continue in that role until a replacement is hired and trained.

Founded in 2003, four restaurateurs created a way for competing businesses to work together to advance Asheville’s food service industry. AIR, a non-profit organization (501C-6), continues to provide advocacy, education, resources, marketing and relationship services for small independent restaurants in the city.

AIR’s membership has grown by more than 150% and grown in stature and strength, according to Barnes. The AIR network includes restaurateurs, chefs, suppliers, partners, farmers, sponsors, cooking teachers and students.

“She made it a great organization. I’m not sure she gets the credit she deserves, ”Baudouin said. “I wish her the best because she deserves it.”

Tiana Kennell is a food reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA Today Network. Email her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter / Instagram @PrincessOfPage.

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