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Green Queen Reigns With New Cuisine

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Jasmine Shea of the TerraNova tribal style bellydance company performs Friday at the Whole Earth Organic Lounge in Fayetteville. On the cover, Judy Paynesmith and William Najger, co-owners of the Whole Earth Organic Lounge, stand in front of the entrance to their establishment, near the Fayetteville square and across the street from Damgoode Pies. (PHOTO: RICHARD DAVIS)

By Ginny Masullo

Fayetteville’s Judy Paynesmith worked out of her home as a medical transcriptionist for the last 15 years until she decided she wanted to open a green business.

She’d learned about William Najger’s green business, Cornucopia Meals out of Asheville, N.C., when she visited her daughter there. Cornucopia Meals is not exactly a franchise but rather a package that provides the buyer with a business model designed to launch an organic meals home delivery service. Once the extensive startup of hands-on assistance is complete, the business is completely one’s own to name and run.

Paynesmith chose the name Lean Green Cuisine. Delivering her first meal in February 2010, the business has taken off. It provides a real service by producing primarily organic meals at a remarkably reasonable price. Easy to order by phone or online (leangreencuisine.com), the meals are packaged in biodegradable corn oil containers and can be picked up or delivered within a 50-mile radius of Fayetteville.

Najger, who calls himself an eco-clown, has 17 years experience in the natural foods world. Najger opened the first organic foods delivery service in Florida, followed by one in Los Angeles and then Asheville. Confident the concept reached across a variety of populations, Najger began to offer his setup package nationally.

Najger spent three months helping Paynesmith set up Lean Green. During that time, Najger witnessed the demise of another Fayetteville business that he says “had some good ideas but poor execution.” Now he and Paynesmith are partners in the Whole Earth Organic Lounge. Located at 40 E. Center St., across form the newly renovated historic Washington County Court House, the Whole Earth Lounge (wholeearthorganiclounge.com) promotes “positive partying with an eco-friendly theme.”

The two began by renovating the space that once housed Opal Fly’s Feel Good Lounge. The Green Brain, as Paynesmith calls Najger, used nonvolatile paints, high-efficiency lighting, flooring made of 80 percent recycled materials and 50 percent recycled furniture. They opened up the space to highlight views of Mount Sequoyah to the east and the mountains to the south of town.

“If there is one thing I could say to other businesses about going green, it is to do what you can with the goal of always adding more and more green elements to the business,” says Najger.

Seeing The Whole Earth Organic Lounge as a multiuse hub, the partners plan to add one facet at a time. Right now, they are concentrating on the daily organic gourmet food. There is a buffet of organic foods made by Lean Green Cuisine from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Lounge opens at night beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Clientele can enjoy organic beers and wines, food and a plethora of eclectic performances that will include music, theatrical poetry and tribal dance.

“Whatever is positive and uplifting is what we want,” said the partners.

Eventually the daytime space may offer dance, movement and natural living classes as well as opening early for organic cof fee, tea, pastries, wraps and snacks.

“Who knew that after raising a family that this would be the best part of my life,” said green queen Paynesmith.

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