Help plan Sauté community café

The basic method behind sautéing is the toss: put your ingredients in the pan and encourage them to mingle.

Steven Liebenhaut and Rosetta Star hope to do the same thing with people (minus the actual cooking). With a group of like-minded folks, they’re organizing Sauté, a community café that will encourage interaction between strangers and provide healthy meals to the community on a sliding pay scale. The second organizational meeting will be on Saturday, March 23, at 2 p.m. in the North Asheville Library, and everyone is welcome to attend.

“The focus for us is local food and health and wellness, and also everyone at the table, so inclusiveness,” Star says. She owns Rosetta’s Kitchen where she serves the “Everybody Eats” plate, a dish of beans and rice with a donation-based cost. Now, she thinks it’s time to extend that concept into its own space.

When Steven Liebenhaut, a manager at Amazing Savings, approached her about developing a community café, she was eager to learn more. Recently, the pair attended the One World Everybody Eats Foundation summit in New Jersey, where they learned about community cafés around the country. They hope to model the Asheville restaurant on F.A.R.M. Cafe in Boone.

Through his events company, steveNyou, Liebenhaut organizes benefits for community nonprofits. He plans to use those skills to pull different groups and donors together to create Sauté. He hopes the café will provide food-service training, as well as healthy meals. “[People] could come to us as a transition and hone their skills so that when they do go out to get another job, they’re not as nervous,” he says.

The restaurant, which doesn’t have a location yet, will be a collaborative project between nonprofits and private groups. Star will not own the restaurant, and it’s not an extension of the Rosetta’s brand. “This concept is so aligned with the work that so many different groups are already doing, from Green Opportunities to MANNA FoodBank to ABCCM to Slow Food and ASAP,” she says.

Star envisions Sauté as a gathering place for the entire community, from college students to homeless individuals. “Everyone has something to offer, and everyone has something that they need,” she says. “When you find a space where things can collaborate, then you have something that’s kind of magical.”

Currently, Sauté is in the planning stages. In March, a group of nonprofits, restaurant industry professionals and interested volunteers held two meetings to begin brainstorming. Star says the leadership roles are still being determined, and there’s plenty of room now for people to get involved. To help with Sauté, send an email to or look for it on Facebook.


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5 thoughts on “Help plan Sauté community café

  1. disruptina

    I don’t know if they’re looking for feedback, but to me, the name is sorta…ehhh. Saute brings to mind the sort of tourist-trendy establishment that’s been opening up downtown. It doesn’t really scream “community cafe”. Although I understand the concept behind the choice.

    For this project, it would be great to have a name that’s less pretentious and more down to earth.

    • Steven Liebenhaut

      hank you for your comment, they’re all so valuable. It’s funny when in decisions like this folks are more apt to try to tell you what they feel you’d like to hear. Who wants to hurt someone’s feelings? And then you came along, thanks.
      Originally I had the name Skill-It or Skillet. What do you think of either of those?
      Thanks, Steven Liebenhaut
      (828) 335-7931

      • QLT812

        Perhaps it could be The Sauté Skillet! Being that a variety of patrons will be gathering for healthy eats

      • QLT812

        Perhaps it could be The Sauté Skillet! Being that a variety of patrons will be gathering for healthy eats

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