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Restaurant's grand opening to serve as donation day for One Gen Away

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Franklin residents will be able to enjoy a healthy meal from a new restaurant next week while also supporting a local cause that provides millions of pounds of food to those in need in Middle Tennessee and beyond.

Core Life Eatery, a fresh, whole-food restaurant concept based in New York, is coming to Cool Springs, where it will hold a grand opening on Thursday, Oct. 1. But this isn’t like any other restaurant debut; on that day, patrons can order any meal from the menu, pay what they want and 100% of the proceeds will go to One Generation Away, a Franklin-based food distribution nonprofit.

Kelsey and Scott Searles, Core Life Eatery franchisees of the Franklin and Murfreesboro locations, said feeding those in need has always been a passion of theirs. Scott Searles worked for a food bank in New York prior to their move to Franklin about three years ago, and they have partnered before with Second Harvest Food Bank.

“I’m just grateful for their heart to be a part of ending hunger, and I hope that the people that know us and the awareness our brand has — that we’re able to draw people from the restaurant since the restaurant is giving back to us as well,” said Chris Whitney, founder and director of One Generation Away.

Kelsey Searles said Core Life is centered on the idea of fresh foods — everything down to the bone broth, vegetable broth, dressings and sauces are made in-house, and freezers and microwaves can’t be found in the restaurant. Core Life’s website touts its quality ingredients are free of GMOs, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and flavors and include sustainably sourced grass-fed beef and antibiotic-free chicken.

“Everything you get comes from a place of freshness,” Kelsey Searles said. “We also offer a lot of options for vegans and vegetarians. We are gluten free, so we really cater to people if you have food sensitivities or allergies. It’s a place where they can come, and they can feel safe with what they’re eating and not get sick.”

Whitney said this focus aligns with him and his team at One Gen as well. In addition to nonperishable items, the nonprofit’s food drives include all kinds of fresh produce rescued from area grocery stores.

“If we can help change the eating habits of a generation, … if we can get the next one and the one after that, I think we can go a long way in helping people with their health,” he said. “That’s just such a big deal to us — just to give people the opportunity to eat healthier than what they are today no matter what their socioeconomic situation is.”

Whitney added it’s “amazingly refreshing” to partner with businesses and organizations with a common theme.

When the Searleses opened their first Core Life location in Murfreesboro in 2018, she said the grand opening day benefited the St. Thomas Health Foundation and raised about $10,000 for the cause. Whitney said that kind of money would provide about 80,000 meals.

While One Gen primarily serves Middle Tennessee on a day-to-day basis, the organization also mobilizes for disaster relief, bringing food to hurricane and tornado victims throughout the Southeast. The nonprofit team has served on the frontlines locally during the coronavirus pandemic and following the March 3 tornadoes and, in its long-term relief strategy, continues to take trips down to Panama, Florida, for example, to serve those affected by 2017’s Hurricane Irma.

“What we try to do is look for an organization that we can really get behind and that people know in the community,” Kelsey Searles said.

The new Core Life Eatery is located at 401B Cool Springs Boulevard, Suite #220, in Franklin and will hold its grand opening and donation day from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 1. Core Life staff will wear masks and adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols, and patrons are encouraged to do the same.

“My hope is that Franklin and Williamson County brings it because Murfreesboro brought it for their donation day,” Kelsey Searles said. “I’d like to see a good, socially distanced, masked-up line around the building all day long as we just raise money for One Generation and feed people.”

For more information about One Generation Away, visit OneGenAway.com. Learn more about Core Life Eatery at CoreLifeEatery.com. Additionally, Searles said she and her husband are currently hiring for the restaurant, and those interested in applications can visit CoreLifeTNJobs.com.

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