The Community Table prepares for move, but needs help

The Community Table, located in Sylva, is preparing for a much needed move to a larger, more accommodating space. Currently located right off of Main Street on Bartlett Street, The Community Table will soon find its new home just a few blocks away in the former Golden Age Center.

Executive director and one of the only two paid staff members at The Community Table, Amy Grimes, will meet with Sylva Town Commissioners, who own the building, in the next week to sign an official lease and establish a tentative timeline for the move. Grimes anticipates that the move will begin within in the next two months. She said there are several key factors weighing in on determining a set move date. The table is a non-profit organization that primarily relies on donations and support from the community, thus it is no surprise that financial difficulties are one of the major factors slowing down the moving process.

Grimes has a rough estimate, $90,000, of how much it would cost just to renovate the building, but she anticipates there to be a surprise along the way resulting in high costs.

“With any big project renovation of an old building, you have to ballpark estimate expected costs, but you also know that problems are sure to arise,” said Grimes.  

Aside from the renovation costs, another estimated $20,000 to $30,000 will be needed to purchase industrial kitchen equipment for the new location. The table currently produces on average 100 to 120 meals a night using only standard home appliances.

Industrial equipment is almost needed just as badly as the new space. The current state of the economy and recent rise in unemployment has caused the traffic through The Community Table to almost double. There have been evenings where the line is out the door because the small dining room can only accommodate 40 people at a time, and the even smaller kitchen has no room to cook during serving hours, and must prepare everything before guests arrive.

Gabrial Finnegan, the Table’s only other paid employee, just joined the team last week and is excited to be a part of this much needed transition.

“I look forward to using my skills to help the community during a time where the number of Table’s visitors is highest since it first opened in 99′. I am excited to see the changes and improvements during the transitional phase.”

Finnegan, a Bryson City native, has 25 years of experience in the kitchen. He has spent several years in Europe and Germany studying culinary arts, and even ran the Spring Street Café’s kitchen in Sylva. Before landing his current position as Kitchen Manager and Volunteer Coordinator, Finnegan volunteered for over 9 months at the Table, helping wherever he was needed. Finnegan prefers working at the Table compared to more conventional restaurants.            

“Working at the Table gives me the chance to use my talents to make a change—hopefully for the better” Finnegan said.

Jackson County is graciously helping with the funds and labor needed to make the move. Even with the county’s help, the Table is still struggling to close the funding gap hindering progress. There are several events scheduled over the next few months to help raise money for the move. The Table will hold its Third Annual Fall Festival from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov.13. The festival will kick off with a yard sale which will be joined with music, food, kid activities and more all to raise money. If you cannot attend the festival, but still want to help, donations for the yard sale are greatly appreciated.

The Table is also a proud partner of Western’s Service Learning Program and often depends on the student volunteers. The Table is joining together with Service Learning to host a Spaghetti fundraiser dinner. The dinner will began at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17 at the Table’s current location. The cost is $10 a plate and will go toward helping the Table prepare for the move, as well as purchasing supplies needed for holiday meals. Those interested should RSVP to Josh Lively at

Students interested in helping to the Community Table can use the extra money left at the end of the semester on their CatCard to purchase canned food and non-perishable items from campus stores to donate. Grimes said that this has been a great help in the past to prepare for the holiday meals that are served.

When it comes time to finally move, the Table will rely on volunteers from the community to help with any painting, trim work, repairs, and just the general moving process. Volunteers are also needed during regular operation hours on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from any time between 11 a.m. until 6:30 p.m.

For information about the Table, donating or volunteering, visit, call 828.586.6782, or check out the Facebook page.