New café helps sustain local nonprofit’s offeringsDec 27, 2023 10:30AM ● By Randee Brown
Opened in the summer of 2023, The Buzz is Henderson County’s first sober bar and café, founded by Julie Huneycutt, Director of Hope Coalition.
Hope Coalition’s mission is dedicated to preventing substance use among youth and focusing on long-term recovery for anyone impacted by alcohol and drug addiction. The organization works with healthcare organizations, public schools, law enforcement, and other community nonprofits and agencies to create action-oriented plans and programs focused on change in the community.
Working in the nonprofit sector for more than 20 years, Huneycutt and the Hope Coalition team considered many ideas to help sustain the nonprofit by providing additional funding for programs. They found a great space, and decided to move forward with the idea of a sober bar and café.
Proceeds earned by The Buzz go back into the community through services offered by Hope Coalition. Huneycutt calls it “drinks with a purpose,” as people purchasing drinks or food are directly giving back to the community.
“We exist to help others heal,” Huneycutt said. “There’s a huge passion behind what we do because we are making a difference. We are not making money to profit from the business, instead we are making the community richer and healthier.”
The Buzz opens at 7:30 AM to offer a variety of specialty coffees, teas, and pastries. In the afternoon, service transitions to offering sodas, kombuchas, and mocktails — cocktails created using non-alcoholic spirits, adaptogens, and botanicals.
Mocktails are offered as an alternative to the increasingly popular breweries, cideries, and wineries in the area. Anyone is welcomed at The Buzz, and Huneycutt said customers include people in recovery as well as those on health journeys, taking a break from alcohol, or who simply want to go out for a drink while better maintaining clarity of conversation.
Huneycutt is also interested in hiring staff that are in recovery. She said they understand the larger mission of showing that it’s possible to have great conversations and great fun without alcohol, and they are very passionate and understand the reasoning behind these offerings. Some of her current staff of six work in other areas of Hope Coalition as well, which she appreciates because this aids in creating a culture that spans the organization while making broader use of their skills.
With a huge sober-curious movement moving across the country, Huneycutt said she’s had dozens, if not hundreds, of people say the opening of The Buzz is very timely. While families and youth are welcomed, the atmosphere is oriented to adults as the former apple packing house does look like a bar.
Working in substance abuse prevention, Huneycutt said she understands alcohol is an entry point to addiction for many youth. She said The Buzz is not a place for teens to go and take pictures to post on social media or show to friends because it could look like they are drinking alcohol.
“Alcohol is the worst issue for driving under the influence, domestic violence, and more, but it’s considered okay because it’s legal,” Huneycutt said. “We need to have frank conversations around this, and we want to provide a different venue and a safe alternative to drinking. It’s never a judgment zone here.”
Huneycutt is drawing attention toThe Buzz within the community by hosting live music and food trucks and working toward hosting community events. Book clubs and leaders of area programs and groups have already begun meeting there, and the City of Hendersonville has inquired about hosting a community discussion day at The Buzz.
“Support from the community has been truly overwhelming,” Huneycutt said. “Donors from the community are celebrated on the wall with memorial tiles commemorating loved ones lost to addiction. They are engraved and really beautiful, and their names deserve to be there. We don’t ever want to forget the ones we’ve lost.”
Julie Huneycutt is Director of Hope Coalition and Founder of The Buzz. Learn more at TheBuzzHendo.com.