One of three siblings, Sarah Myers has always had a relationship with Western North Carolina (WNC), even though she didn’t grow up here. Her parents found love in the region. When Sarah’s parents met at UNC-Asheville in the 1970s, they fell in love, married, and decided to move to western Massachusetts after graduation. Her grandparents stayed in the region in Swannanoa while several other family members were spread out in WNC.
After graduating high school in Massachusetts, Sarah took a year off and completed an AmeriCorps program in Boston. From there, she enrolled at UNC-Greensboro, but that, unfortunately, didn’t stick.
“I thought it would be close enough to Asheville and it wasn’t,” Sarah says, “but it was also too far away from Massachusetts.” So she returned to the town she grew up in and enrolled in the University of Massachusetts–Amherst with a major in sociology.
“I have always known that I wanted to make some sort of community impact,” Sarah explains, “and sociology seemed like the best way to be able to learn about people and stories and communities.”
But she was also drawn to the idea of working at a bustling restaurant. “I just fell in love with the nature of the work and every part of it,” she says, “the ethos, the speed, the variety, the energy—it just very much resonated with me.”
While getting her high school education, Sarah started as a host at a restaurant that was sort of an institution in her town called Judie’s.
Over the course of the next 6 years, until she graduated college, Sarah went from host to cashier to busser to server at Judie’s. She then made the move to Boston with her sister and immediately started working a full-time job at various nonprofits helping people find employment all while picking up weekend shifts at a restaurant on the side.
When one of the nonprofits she was working for had to close due to budget cuts, she decided to enroll in graduate school at Brandeis University to get her Master’s Degree in Business and learn how to avoid ever being in that position again. But she never gave up her restaurant job.
After working at the restaurant for 6 long years, Sarah rose to the position of manager. And it was actually on the job where she met her husband. She finished graduate school soon after, got married, and then moved down to Boone, NC where her husband was starting graduate school himself.
Within two weeks, she lucked into a job at a tiny farming nonprofit at the time called Blue Ridge Women In Agriculture.
“Farming has always been something I’ve been curious about,” Sarah explains, “and I’ve loved supporting and have been passionate about small farming, but this was the first time I’ve actually been able to work with small farmers.”
Her grandfather was a cattle farmer in Swannanoa, and working at the farming nonprofit really made her feel connected to her heritage and her community. It was during this time in her life when she met Casey McKissick, the owner of Foothills Meats, who was then directing the NC Meat Choices conference she attended.
After 2 years in that role, she and her husband relocated to Asheville. “We knew we weren’t going to stay in Boone very long,” Sarah says. “It was just a little too small for us at the time.”
Sarah struggled to find a job—she was trying not to work in restaurants at the time—and ended up working in several different roles. She worked for the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, served on the board for the Organic Growers School, and even ended up working with the Association of Boarding Schools traveling around the world.
Moving from job to job was exhausting, and the mission of the last organization she found herself at was not something close enough to her heart to keep her there. “So that’s when I threw myself back into restaurants,” Sarah explains.
She actually first helped open the Foothills Meats Butcher Bar in Black Mountain as a server, then left to help open Vivian, but ultimately came back to Foothills as a manager when it looked like there were more ways she could grow with the company.
“One of the big reasons I’m passionate about working at Foothills is our business model,” Sarah says. “We source ethically raised, locally raised meat, pay living wages for farmers, and support those small farmers.”
With a grandfather who was raising beef and as someone who has personally worked with small farmers, Sarah explained that the mission of Foothills was something that was very important to her.
“This restaurant is unique,” she says. “There’s much more of a social impact statement than any other one that I’ve worked in.”
She always recommends customers try the charcuterie butcher board at the restaurant, which she believes is the best way to experience what Foothills does. “As long as you follow it with a cheeseburger,” she adds.
When she’s not recommending honest meat and locally made dishes at Foothills, Sarah loves to cook, try new restaurants around town, and drink tasty local beer. She also teaches yoga at a community center in Leicester every Monday night.