Chef Laura Smith, left, with her husband, chef Brian Smith. Photograph by Anastasiia Photography.
As a network of more than 3,000 small businesses, we’re paying close attention to how they’re faring in an age of stay-at-home orders and social distancing. In an effort to stay connected to our TSG community and share their stories, we’ll be “catching up with” a different business owner every week to hear about their challenges, learn how they’re coping, and find out how they’re spending their time at home. Today, we’re checking in with Laura Smith, pastry chef and co-owner (with her husband, chef Brian Smith) of the Mediterranean restaurant Rezaz and grab-and-go Middle Eastern restaurant Baba Nahm in Asheville, North Carolina.
What’s the status of your business right now?
Our businesses, Rezaz and Baba Nahm, are closed. We chose to close Rezaz on March 16th. We wanted to offer takeout and meal kits at Baba Nahm, but that lasted a week—once the stay-at-home order came in from the Governor, we decided we need to close up shop. Upon closing both restaurants, we cooked and fed our staff and then donated the rest to Homeward Bound, a local organization that believes everyone has a right to a home.
Your biggest challenge, personally and/or professionally:
I think right now it is not getting a divorce, just like almost all of America. Kidding! Our biggest challenge is deciding how to move forward. Our professional and personal lives are one and the same. We live, eat, and breathe this industry. We work together 24 hours a day every year. Our challenge is how to navigate a new industry—and do we have an industry.
What’s bringing you joy:
Experimenting in the kitchen, writing new menus, being outside reading or painting our deck—something when we were working we never got to do.
What you’re watching/reading/listening to:
I have been reading the Crazy Rich Asians series’s last two books. I finished both books in two days. We are also just rereading all of our cookbooks, finding inspiration in the pages. Brian and I are watching The Wire—it’s pretty fantastic!
Your go-to snack:
This is really hard! Anything that is in the house. Brian doesn’t really snack, but I do! I love popcorn and sprinkle it with garlic salt and Parmesan. Or any French cheese. Well, I guess cheese in general.
Your favorite family activity:
At the moment it is painting our deck! The fence is white and is taking a lot of coats. The patio will be painted a darkish blue. I can’t wait to have it finished and all set up so I can read outside with a cup of coffee.
The local businesses/services you’re using this week:
We have ordered from some local restaurants as a way to support them. But honestly, we are trying to stay home and obey the order.
To learn more about small businesses in Asheville, North Carolina, and how to support them, follow The Scout Guide Asheville.