Thank you for joining (or considering to join) a wonderful group of restaurants who are participating with Chefs @ Downtown Welcome Table. As of now we have more than 50 restaurants including 7 food trucks – we started with 6 in 2013!

Below is a set of answers to frequently asked questions about the details of participating.  Don’t hesitate to contact me with additional questions or concerns:

Liz Button

Founder, Chefs @ Downtown Welcome Table

What is Chefs @ Downtown Welcome Table?

Haywood serves between 350-450 for lunch every Wednesday and almost as many for breakfast on Sundays at its Downtown Welcome Table. This is a homemade meal served on abundant plates by an attentive wait staff of volunteers (called companions). Most weeks, the team from Haywood prepares and serves the food. Once or twice a month, one of Asheville’s amazing local restaurants prepares and serves the meal, joining with Haywood around a common passion:  loving people through food. Participating restaurants join together under the name “Chefs @ Downtown Welcome Table.”

Which restaurants are currently participating?

Find a current list here. Many restaurants partner with another restaurant to prepare a single meal. We are also grateful to have folks like Celtic Sea Salt and Dynamite Roasting provide products to support the meal. There are options for restaurants and producers of every size and style to participate.

How much food will I need to prepare?

A key tenet of the Downtown Welcome Table philosophy is abundance. By offering folks the assurance that there is always enough, the meal becomes a place of rest from the urgency to survive that permeates life on the streets. Serving size is larger than you might be used to, and folks often want seconds or thirds.  It may be helpful to think in terms of pounds and portions rather than number of people. Our menu submission forms offer concrete examples:

Wednesday Lunch Details and Menu Submission Form

Sunday Breakfast Details and Menu Submission Form

Wednesday lunch usually serves 400 people or 750 plates.
Sunday breakfast usually serves 300 people or 650 plates.

Can I prepare something that’s not on our regular restaurant menu?

Food should always be homemade, not store bought pre-made fresh or frozen food.  It doesn’t have to be the same food you serve in your restaurant, just quality food that you might serve to guests at your restaurant. This intention to remind folks that they are worth the very best, to counter the notion often held by folks experiencing homelessness that “handouts, hand-me-downs and leftovers are all I deserve” is another feature sets the Downtown Welcome Table apart from other meal programs.

What kind of menus work well for this setting?

Wednesdays:  Lunch always starts with a salad and bread, then a protein, starch and vegetable, and finally dessert. Serving sizes would be what you would serve as a la carte servings, meaning generous. Bread is popular, plan on 2 servings per person. Beverages are provided by Haywood Street. Some restaurants do one pot meals and serve over a starch – so there are options for your protein/starch/vegetable. Some guests will request a vegetarian option, which can be provided by the partner restaurant OR by Haywood Street, either way is fine (be sure to specify on the menu submission form whether or not you’re providing a vegetarian option). There are volunteers who will serve dessert from a table in the dining room. 

Sundays: A main plate with frittata or strada, meat and bread will be served individually plated from the kitchen. Fruit will be placed in a bowl on each table and replenished as needed. Biscuits and gravy, cereal, oatmeal and grits will be located at serving stations within the two dining rooms (these items are typically provided by Haywood Street each week). Servers can retrieve these a la carte items as requested by diners. Some diners will request eggs cooked to order. The Haywood Street team is prepared to accommodate those requests while the restaurant focuses on the main plate. 

What is the service flow?

Wednesday lunch is served family style to a full dining room of 108 people seated at a time, at 12 round tables. First meal service on Wednesdays starts at 10:30 am and three seatings follow for a total of 4 seatings.  Turn time is quick 35-45 mins, food is set up on the pass for each course. All dishes/bowls/serving utensils are provided by Haywood Street.

Sunday breakfast service starts promptly at 8.  Diners will be arriving to 16 tables in two dining rooms continuously between 8-10. Please see menu submission form for more details regarding Sunday service. 

Can I store food on-site for my Welcome Table meal?

Yes, you can have ingredients delivered directly to Haywood or drop off food prior to you day of service.  You are also welcome to prep in the fully-stocked Haywood commercial kitchen. Dave Holland is your contact for coordinating on this. 828.775.5886 mobile,

What about food costs?

Donation envelopes are a strategy used to help sustain the program by enabling participating restaurants to be reimbursed for their cost of ingredients. Monetary donations are collected in special envelopes (placed on tables or included in check presenter) in each participating restaurant for one month prior to their Welcome Table date. Donations are turned over to Haywood Street and chefs are reimbursed for the cost of ingredients from funds collected.

How does the reimbursement process work?

Pay your vendors directly as usual. Most vendors (see list below) sell their food “at cost.”  Review your invoices since they occasionally forget to discount food for Welcome Table.  The only exception to this are purchases from US Foods. US Foods prefers to invoice Haywood Street directly. I would suggest you ask for a copy of this invoice to make sure the invoice correctly reflects your order. Submit copies of paid invoices to Haywood Street for reimbursement. Your contact for this is Laura Kirby, Executive Director: or 828-575-2477 ext 104.

All these vendors are proactive in helping Haywood Street’s Welcome Table, please use them.

  • Cheney Brothers (Southern Foods/Pate Dawson): Jeff Causey; (828) 231-9155
  • SYSCO: Your regular sales rep – occasionally a new sales rep is unaware, Keith Schoenfeldt is the regional mgr. who set this up
  • US Foods: Sidney Copeland,, (828) 713-4999 

Also, Mountain Produce and other vendors will discount food if you ask them, don’t hesitate to ask! Let me (Liz) know if there’s a vendor you feel we should incorporate into the program. We were successful in recruiting Southern Food/Pate Dawson, Sysco, and US Foods after they visited Haywood Street during a restaurant meal.

What if we don’t’ collect enough in donation envelopes to cover the cost of our ingredients?

Not to worry. Extra funds collected in the envelopes at one restaurant can be used to offset a shortfall from another restaurant. Nevertheless, the goal is for each restaurant to collect enough money to cover the cost of their meal.

It helps if your FOH staff is vested in what you’re doing and that you start solicitation using the Welcome Table envelopes one month prior to your meal. Keep track of the funds you receive and consider doing in-house contests among our service staff. Depending upon your concept you will receive more or less in donations (quick service or full service). I (Liz) would like to meet with your FOH managers & staff when I drop of the donation envelopes, I can suggest to them tactics and verbiage with your guests. One of us is happy to meet with your FOH staff and management team to answer questions and get them excited about your restaurant’s participation.

Where do we take full (and empty) donation envelopes?

Bring your collected donations to Downtown Welcome Table on the day you serve your meal and submit to Laura Kirby. Laura will process thank you notes to folks that leave contact information. Please also bring your unused envelopes, the envelopes are donated by Advantage Printing and we will reuse them.

How many people from my restaurant are needed on the day we serve?

There are Haywood Street volunteers (called companions) who run the dish room and work as servers, and usually one or two to help in the kitchen. It’s a good idea to have a couple of your own staff members or volunteers to work in the kitchen.

Some restaurants bring wait staff although it is not necessary. We find that staff from the restaurants really enjoy participating at Welcome Table.

Who should I call with questions about menu, quantities, or logistics of storing and preparing food on my day of service?

Dave Holland is the Kitchen Manager at Welcome Table: 828.775.5886 mobile, and your contact for coordinating delivery of food.  Liz Button acts as consultant for the Chefs@Downtown Welcome Table program. Liz is happy to chat with you about menus that work well and logistical considerations.  828.216.9894 cell or

Please send us your menu at least one week prior to your date. Again, here are the forms:

Wednesday Lunch Details and Menu Submission Form

Sunday Breakfast Details and Menu Submission Form

Is there a social media or communications contact for the Downtown Welcome Table?

Yes, please connect your person with our person! Brook ( or 828-575-2477 ext 108) works PR/Social Media for Haywood Street and will post about your participation before and after your day.  When you do the same, our ability to share the story of this creative and compelling partnership is greatly improved.

Your restaurant will receive publicity in the Haywood Street Congregation newsletter as well as postings on Instagram and Facebook. Additionally, all restaurants will be listed on the envelopes used for collections. Annually, at least one newspaper or magazine writes about the program, specifically about the restaurants involved.

Please “like” us on Facebook (Haywood Street Congregation) and follow us on Instagram (@haywoodstreetcongregation).

How do I get started?

  1. Contact us to schedule a time to meet at Haywood Street on a Wednesday or Sunday.  Seeing the Welcome Table in action is the best way to get a feel for the program.  You can reach out to: Liz Button at 216.9894 or; Harry Brown at 215-3222 or; or Laura Kirby at or 275-2477 ext 104..
  2. Choose a date.  (Laura, Harry or Liz can share the calendar of available dates with you)
  3. About six weeks prior to your date you’ll be supplied with donation envelopes and a menu submission form.

Thank you.

On behalf of the congregants who frequent the Downtown Welcome Table – many who survive with chronic homelessness, generational poverty, severe mental illness and lifelong addition – we are so grateful for your partnership.  The restaurant quality meal you’re planning extends hospitality in the most human of ways and changes our city for the better, one plate at a time.

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