With opening this weekend of its third restaurant, Asheville’s Green Sage sets sights on going national



Green Sage Cafe throws open the doors on its new restaurant at Westgate Shopping Center tonight for a private soft opening. It will be the third restaurant for co-owners Randy Talley and Roger Derrough, who have worked hard in to be sure Asheville is living up to the image of a healthy, environmentally friendly city that it so loves to project. Since opening the first Earth Fare grocery store right next door to the new restaurant, Talley and Derrough have walked the walk. And, just as they did with their grocery store business, the two are ready to take their restaurant model to a much wider audience.

Gina Smith of Mountain Xpress sets it out nicely:

The opening of the third Green Sage location in Westgate Shopping Center brings co-owners Randy Talley and Roger Derrough full circle: The pair established the first Earth Fare store in that same plaza 20 years ago.

But with this newest manifestation of their healthy, fast-casual café concept, Talley and Derrough clearly have their sights set on the bigger picture. A rebranding effort, the addition of sake cocktails and, most notably, an aspiration toward national expansion mark the Westgate store as something of a watershed for Green Sage.

With the scheduled Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 11) launch of the new store, which takes over the corner spot next to Earth Fare previously occupied by Tomato Cocina Latina, The Green Sage Coffeehouse & Café will shorten its name to Green Sage Café. The simplified moniker will be accompanied by a fresh, food-focused color scheme of spinach green with grilled orange as well as a new interactive website (greensagecafe.com). …

“Our aspiration is to create America’s healthiest restaurant,” says Talley. “Green Sage Café is a prototype for what we hope will be a national model like Whole Foods.”

Smith writes that there’s no exact timeline, but Talley and Derrough are actively building a foundation for bigger growth.

Back in 2008, Hanna Raskin of the Xpress detailed the extent of waste reduction and energy saving measures that Green Sage built into its first restaurant at the corner of College and Broadway:

The Green Sage isn’t shy about advertising its environmental credentials. Indeed, Talley sees the restaurant functioning in much the same way a sandwich board might for an activist with less business savvy: He calls it “letting the green cat out of the bag.”

“We felt there was no visible symbol of green living in Asheville, so early on we made the decision to put solar panels on the roof. It’s an opportunity to help Asheville live up to its own self-image,” says Talley, whose business plan calls for opening five more regional outlets in coming years.

Sustainable touches abound in the wooden-floored café: There are waterless urinals in the men’s bathroom, a vestige from the Chen family’s brief tenure in the former Beanstreets location. For all the updates Talley has made to the interior, including the installation of handsome salvaged countertops, visitors are still most wowed by the bathrooms that debuted with C.F. Chan’s.

Talley also took his green symbols to the street, positioning its extensive waste disposal system in its alley, where nearly every tenant of the BB&T Building can see it. The Green Sage organizes its waste into 12 separate bins, only six of which are landfill-bound. The method requires careful cooperation from diners, who are instructed to bus their own tables and sort their soiled whole-wheat napkins, ceramic cups and compostable waste into different containers. Talley says, “It’s neat to see people read all the signs.” Of which, of course, there are many.

All that work led to a major push to get other Asheville on board with sustainability issues. In 2012, that emphasis resulted in national recognition: Asheville was named the first official “Greenest Dining Destination” in the United States, with 18 restaurants becoming Certified Green Restaurants by the Green Restaurant Association. The group is a national organization that provides the only certification for environmentally responsible restaurants.

Congratulations to Green Sage Cafe, Talley, Derrough, its employees, supporters and diners. Tonight’s soft opening of Green Sage at West Gate isn’t just another restaurant opening. It is a clear marker of environmental and sustainability success. Here’s the official press release, which should have included the following: Glazer Architecture was the architect on the project, and Falcon Construction was the general contractor:

Renovation as Innovation: The New Green Sage Cafe

The Green Sage Coffeehouse & Cafe has been a hub for sustainably minded and health conscious individuals in Asheville. The restaurant is opening a new location, launching a new menu and refining it’s brand. Owners Roger Derrough and Randy Talley are continuing their commitment to innovation and sustainable practices as thought leaders in the Green restaurant field. Their goal is to be the first restaurant with three certified green locations in the area.

The new brand is Green Sage Cafe; the name change signifies a commitment to serve nourishing food to the community. Green Sage Cafe has adopted a brand promise “Nourishing Life”. Chef Kim Austin has refreshed the menu with the idea of nutrient density in mind. Making classic natural food dishes with nourishing, organic, local and natural ingredients is the heart of the brand. All the locations will be rolling out the new menu this week. The Green Sage Cafe nourishes the planet through sustainable practices and the new location is no exception.

The location has many beautiful sustainable upgrades. The most notable is the emerald green awning which is made from five photovoltaic solar panels that offset the power for 109 led lights many from CREE lighting a North Carolina company expert in LED technology.. The lighting is beautiful, ceramicist Ross Edwards of Spruce Pine, NC designed custom porcelain lamp shades for the center of the dining room. The booths from the old store were refinished and the cabints, tables and trim were made from 100 year old reclaimed barn wood. The previous restaurants have used solar to heat water. This restaurant has a dishwasher that uses the heat from washing dishes to create the next gallon of hot water. A complete list of all the innovation and sustainable practices will be available on the new website www.greensagecafe.com launching soon.

The new location at the Westgate Shopping Center exit 3B off 240 is convenient to North Asheville, West Asheville and East Asheville. The new location is double the size with 110 seats and a covered outdoor patio with an additional 40 seats. The patio is enhanced by a beautiful hand made iron railing made by Tina Councell (and assistant Kayla Wolhart) of Iron Maiden Studios in the River Arts District. The artwork has a function, to serve a trellis to grow muscadine grapes. From the patio there is a view of downtown and the surrounding mountains. The restaurant is beautiful and a perfect place to bring Mom for mother’s day. The Green Sage Cafe will also be adding Sake cocktails to the menu and will be featuring brunch specials.

“We chose Mother’s Day to open the restaurant to celebrate all Mom’s and Mother Earth. It is symbolic of nourishing. We are excited to welcome the community” says Talley. Green Sage Cafe opens it doors May 11th at Westagate with expanded hour Monday through Friday 7-9 and Sunday 9-8.


april May 13, 2014 - 9:21 am

Green Sage is awful and overpriced and has terrible service-how in the world are they able to expand?

I love a d bag May 11, 2014 - 3:25 pm

Where is stu and his intriguing comments in this one? I can only listen to his riveting critiques!

Harry May 10, 2014 - 8:44 am

If they want a national footprint, they had better master consistency, preferably consistently good.

Z May 10, 2014 - 8:31 am

Oh goody, another Asheville restaurant that will expand into chain territory and instead of getting real food they will get Sysco frozen crap just like Tupelo Honey now does since they are a chain now. Oh yay. Send the tourists there quick!!

TC May 10, 2014 - 9:12 am

Tupelo Honey has used Sysco since day 1. Or at least that’s my understanding from someone who work there back in the early years.

Harry May 10, 2014 - 7:00 pm

Curate does too. So does just about every other fu###ng restaurant in Asheville. Or they use US Foods, IFH, or PFG. Who gives a sh:t?

Miss Daisy May 20, 2014 - 4:29 pm

I give a shit. Not about every place, but there are so many that say they are sourcing locally, and you know they aren’t. Farmburger gets huge deliveries from Sysco. What percentage of their stuff comes from local farms? I’m willing to pay more for local farmers to get paid, especially since it usually means the food is delicious too. But when it says: sourced locally whenever feasible, I suspect feasible often has more to do with the owner’s bills that month than what is in season.

hauntedheadnc May 10, 2014 - 10:19 am

Tupelo Honey has problems that go WAY beyond Sysco, I’m afraid.

Jason May 9, 2014 - 4:25 pm

Will this location feature the same rude, slow service as the other two? I sure hope so! :-0

Concerned May 9, 2014 - 12:56 pm

I don’t find it surprising that Green Sage is able to open a third location, especially since they choose to pay their employees barely over the minimum wage and not even close to the living wage. Not to mention their their terrible ‘separation’ of veggie/vegan options with their meat options. Cooking veggie sausage in the same grease of regular sausage is not vegetarian. I don’t think they really care that much about being environmental it just helps them sell low quality food.

Zep May 9, 2014 - 11:14 am

What’s up with the wonkey/terrible photo? Is that serious?

murphy May 9, 2014 - 11:02 am

I hope the “anti-chain crowd” doesn’t stage a boycott!!

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