Sherrye Coggiola never expected to become a restaurant owner. Before opening The Cantina at Historic Biltmore Village, a Southwestern-inspired eatery, she traveled the world with her husband, Anthony Coggiola. His work as an international business coach took them to Romania and Iraq, where they taught hungry communities to feed themselves.
When the economy in their own community faltered during the recession, they returned to Asheville to revitalize a family property. "I was born and raised here, so being a part of the largest industry in the community—hospitality and tourism—has been a great gift," Sherrye explains.
Four years later, The Cantina is a neighborhood institution, serving large platters of fajitas, fresh fish in flavorful stylings and a full bar with 50 tequilas. "It's inspiring to welcome people into your home, and that's what this restaurant feels like to me," Sherrye says.
While fun is a huge part of the Coggiola's mission, they're also driven by philanthropy. The restaurant has donated 90,000 meals to a local food bank through a program that engages diners. "Our background and our passion is for food sustainability," Sherrye explains.
The Coggiolas continue their international work as their restaurant grows. They're working on a hydroponic farm in the UAE based off a model they operated in Asheville for two years. In the process, they learned a model of community building they will reproduce abroad. "The restaurant owners in this area are so diverse and so willing to help each other and so supportive of Asheville," Sherrye says. "That was a really tremendous lesson, and we're fortunate to be able to take this example back out into the world."