by Jordan Green

Monitoring the economic pulse of the Triad


Warren Moore, who operated the Blue Note Café in the Hiram Ward Federal Building in Winston-Salem through the Business Enterprises Program of the NC Division of Services for the Blind, is leaving to take advantage of a state award in a different location.

The state division informed the US General Services Administration, which operates the federal building, that Moore would leave on Aug. 30.

The federal building, which houses a regional office of the US Department of Veterans Affairs and federal courtroom, accommodates about 800 employees and visitors per day. The café is the sole source of food in the building, and has won fans among lawyers and security officers alike for its hot food bar, along with soups and sandwiches. Limited vending services will remain while the Division of Services for the Blind interviews new prospective operators. In keeping with the original permit, a state agency that oversees the division said that the new operator will only be able to provide soups, salads, hot dogs and pre-packaged items.

Michael Caldwell, the General Services Administration property manager responsible for the building, indicated to YES! Weekly in an e-mailed statement that Moore’s decision to leave was precipitated by problems with air quality caused by the café dating back to at least September 2011. Caldwell said that as recently as July the state division remained out of compliance with “air quality issues” and that the General Services Administration had sent the state agency a letter to that effect on Aug. 15.

Caldwell said that in September 2011 a longtime building manager retired and informed the federal agency that the Division of Services for the Blind had refused to do anything about odors that had prompted significant complaints from building tenants. The following March, Caldwell said, the federal agency issued an order to the café to cease and desist operations until repairs were completed to eliminate electrical problems, airquality issues and otherwise to come into compliance with the permit. Around that time, a federal fire marshal visited the building and recommended that a new hood exhaust be installed.

Notwithstanding that General Services Administration informed the Division of Services for the Blind that the café remained out of compliance in August 2013, the state agency that oversees the division indicated in an e-mail statement to YES! Weekly that a ventless hood system with self-contained filters had been installed the previous month.