Cúrate and Button & Co. Bagels
James Beard nominee Katie Button has been an outspoken advocate for the restaurant industry in light of COVID-19. In this week’s Open for Takeout feature, she’s sharing the why and how between her new adaptive venture, La Bodega by Cúrate.
Q: Tell us a little about your business.
K.B.: I own and operate Cúrate, a Spanish tapas restaurant, and Button & Co. Bagels, a classic, hand-rolled bagel concept with an Appalachian inspiration—both located in downtown Asheville.
Q: When did you get started, and why did you open your restaurant?
K.B.: We moved to Asheville in 2010 to work on opening our first restaurant, Cúrate. We opened it as a family, myself, my husband, and my parents. My mother ran a catering business out of my home growing up, and it had always been her dream to own her own restaurant. When I moved from engineering into cooking to follow my passion and met my husband Felix, a beverage and service master, it was clear that what we needed to do to be happy for work was operate our own restaurants.
Photos by Evan Sung
Q: What makes your restaurant unique and successful?
K.B.: The lively bustling atmosphere in Cúrate and the authentic Spanish cuisine is what makes us successful. We seek out quality ingredients and then prepare them very simply.
Q: How have you adapted to COVID-19?
K.B.: In the beginning, we were forced to close everything and lay off over 100 employees—that was a really tough time. A couple of weeks ago, we opened a curbside pickup and delivery offering, La Bodega by Cúrate, in an effort to rehire some of our employees and adapt in the midst of all the uncertainty. La Bodega by Cúrate offers semi-prepared Cúrate favorites, meal kits, Spanish specialty goods, and wine, beer & cider.
Q: How do operations look different now compared to before COVID? How have your numbers (sales, employees, etc.) changed?
K.B.: We went from 140 employees, now we have 14, and our sales from La Bodega are about 10% of what they would normally be this time of year. North Carolina gave restaurants the green light to reopen starting on May 22, and while we are glad to begin this process, we have a long to-do list ahead of us. We are implementing changes to prioritize the safety of our guests and staff in accordance with CDC guidelines, and those set forward by the state of North Carolina and Buncombe County. We project that dine-in service will resume at Cúrate in a few weeks time.
Q: What’s an important lesson you’ve learned in the time of COVID?
K.B.: I’ve learned that our world is built around people gathering. Everything that I miss in life has to do with getting together with friends and family members, dining out, and going to see concerts… without these things life feels incomplete.
11:30 a.m.–6 p.m.