Nine Mile eyes West Asheville opening

photo Nine Mile


Photo by Matt Rose Asheville Citizen-Times

February is looking to be an impressive month for the restaurant scene. That’s particularly true for West Asheville’s Haywood Road, which is experiencing yet another restaurant boom. Among restaurants like King Daddy’s Chicken and Waffle (by the Early Girl Eatery owners) and a new pub, Buffalo Nickel, February will also see the completion of a new location of Nine Mile on West Asheville’s Haywood Road. The restaurant is likely to open in early March.

What to expect from the group that opened Nine Mile in Montford in 2008? Nothing terribly different, it turns out —just a whole lot more elbow room than in its 1,350-square-foot Montford space, and perhaps a slightly expanded menu.

As it turns out, this second Nine Mile is one you might call a reluctant expansion. Owner Aaron Thomas said that Nine Mile Montford, which can serve up to 250 people a day, has simply outgrown its footprint.

“This Nine Mile here became so busy so fast that we can’t prep or store enough to keep it going,” said Thomas, sitting in the buzzing dining room of the current restaurant. Thomas, who will open the restaurant with wife June Thomas and co-owners Roland Knoll and Nate Ray, said the level of business Nine Mile has experienced made the expansion a near necessity. “It’s exciting, but I didn’t really want to do it,” he said.

Nine Mile Montford will stay exactly the same, said Thomas, though the restaurant may lose some of its staff to the new Haywood location. “The staff we have here right now is the best we’ve had here,” said Thomas. “And now we have to split that up. That’s probably the toughest thing about it.”

Still, Aaron is excited to have the growing room; the new restaurant is more than double the space of the original. Right now, he’s storing some refrigerated goods at Lucky Otter, the restaurant that business partner Roland Knoll also owns. “The new place has a basement, a freezer walk-in and two refrigerator walk-ins,” said Thomas. “Here we just have one refrigerator walk-in and a single-door freezer unit. Everything is cramped.”

The new restaurant will have a full bar with a top-shelf rum selection. The Nine Mile bar will have several Caribbean-themed signature drinks. The restaurant is likely to open as early as the second week of February, approximately the same target opening for Buffalo Nickel, the restaurant that shares half of the new Nine Mile’s Haywood duplex.

Aaron said many people have asked him if he thinks it’s a problem opening almost literally on top of another new restaurant.

“I see it as, competition makes you better,” he said. “And if you’re putting out good food, which I feel Nine Mile does, at an affordable price, you can compete with anybody, if you’re doing it right.”

Nine Mile will be located at 747 Haywood Road.

Written by Mackensy Lunsford, Asheville Citizen-Times

West Asheville’s Restaurant Row

phot Buffalo NickelPhoto taken by Erin Brethauer

Haywood Road in West Asheville has quickly transformed into a hot strip for new restaurants.

The Barleycorn recently opened in the former Burgermeister’s building last week. And the Asheville Sandwich Company and Buffalo Nickel both expect to open on the busy restaurant row next year.

In February,Asheville Sandwich Company will move from its location on State Street to 794 Haywood Road, the former site of Digable Pizza.

A second Asheville Sandwich Company is slated to open the second week of January in a Roadrunner Market convenience store building at 491 Sardis Road in Enka. Plans for more Asheville Sandwich Company restaurants are in the works.

Brian Good opened Asheville Sandwich Company with his father Tom and business partner Lawrence Perkins on State Street in October 2012.

Since then, the restaurant has been serving a menu of sandwiches such as banh mis and po’ boys, stuffed with its signature shoestring fries. The restaurant partners took over the Digable Pizza property earlier this year, with plans to renovate it and open a new concept there. They’ve since decided to move their flagship restaurant to Haywood Road.

The former Digable Pizza building is currently under renovation to expand seating capacity to 25. A patio with room for another 15-20 seats will come with warmer weather.

Good said he thinks the move is a good business decision.

“We asked a lot of them what they wanted, and the majority thought the move would be a positive one,” he said. “They wanted us closer to where the action is.”

Down the road, Buffalo Nickel is also pushing for a February opening on the corner of Haywood Road and Herron Avenue.

Ryan Kline, the Buffalo Nickel chef, said he’s settled on a menu concept: Americana. And he’s adamant about what that term doesn’t mean.

“We’re not going to cook Southern food there —no grits, no collards, nothing like that,” he explained.

The menu will instead reflect Kline’s version of Americana. The former Storm Rhum Bar sous chef grew up in western Pennsylvania, and his sous chef, Brandon Miller, who worked on Seven Sows’ opening team, is from Cleveland.

“We’re going to focus on things we grew up eating,” said Kline. According to the chef, that means pierogies, or ravioli-like dumplings of eastern European origin. Kline calls the dish his “ultimate comfort food.”

Americana also means scrapple to Kline. A mid-Atlantic breakfast staple, scrapple is made with leftover bits of pork. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do in restaurants for years, and this is the venue to do it,” he said.

Scrapple gets a bad rap, but think of it as another form of charcuterie, which Klein said he won’t otherwise focus on. Excepting the kielbasa, which Klein said he grew up eating and making. “It stunk up our house for days,” he said. “It’s great.”

The original Buffalo Nickel menu has the traditional sausage in a clam dish. Kline will also have steak Pittsburgh-style, a cooking method that leaves the meat charred on the outside and rare on the interior.

That, too, has a story.

“The history behind it is that the iron and steel workers used to bring a piece of meat and sear it on the steel they were working on,” Kline said.

Kline will also reference family recipes for his menu. It’s the sort of tack Mike Moore took with Seven Sows, where Kline is currently moonlighting.

“It’s taking inspiration where you came from and modernizing it a little bit, making it work for your restaurant environment,” he said.

Buffalo Nickel will open at 747 Haywood Road.

Article written by Mackensy Lunsford

Improvements ahead for West Asheville bike link

photo bike

ASHEVILLE —City government plans bicycle and pedestrian improvements next year on a stretch of Haywood Road likely to see additional traffic when New Belgium Brewing opens beside the French Broad River.

The city has set aside $220,000 to install a westbound bicycle lane on the stretch of road between Craven Street and Beecham’s Curve and build a sidewalk on the section of the road’s north side that lacks one today.

The project won’t make the long climb up from the river any shorter for bicyclists, but it will make it safer, said Mike Sule, director of bicycle advocacy group Asheville on Bikes.

“When there is a protected bike lane, that really helps increase ridership because pedalers feel safer,” he said.

Along with Waynesville Avenue, the 0.6-mile section of Haywood Road is a primary bicycle route between downtown and West Asheville and one of the most heavily used streets by bicyclists in the city, Sule said. A bicycle lane on eastbound Clingman Avenue and the bridge over the French Broad helps riders make the journey.

A traffic study submitted to city government in January said the total number of vehicles on Haywood Road, as measured near Interstate 240, was expected to increase from 12,100 a day at the time to 16,600 in 2022.

The number of large trucks will increase from 73 a day to about 200, the study said. Not all of the increase is related to the coming of New Belgium, and actual figures could be lower because the company has said the brewery will not be as large as originally planned.

Because of the levels of community interest and use of Haywood Road, “Even if New Belgium were not going in there, this would still be a good project,” said Greg Shuler, city streets and engineering manager.

But as it is, “I feel like a lot of the employees will bike or walk to work” using the planned improvements on Haywood Road, Shuler said.

New Belgium is contributing $50,000 toward the cost of the project. It plans to open here in 2015.

The project involves construction of a six-foot-wide sidewalk along about 1,700 feet of Haywood Road and striping a six-foot wide bicycle lane using existing pavement on the road. A bus shelter will be added at Brownwood Avenue and a painted crosswalk will be installed at one intersection.

No widening of the road is involved. Vehicle travel lanes on Haywood Road are 15 feet wide each, Shuler said. They will be narrowed to 12 feet when the bike lane is delineated, the same width typically seen on an interstate highway, he said.

There is not enough room to put bike lanes in each direction, Shuler said, but because of the slope of the road, bicyclists can typically go fast enough to keep up with traffic when riding eastbound. But their speed on the uphill, westbound side is typically much slower than that of cars.

Work is to be done sometime next year.

Sule said the project is another step in making the city easier to ride a bicycle or walk in and will help move a few more people out of their cars and into other modes of transportation.

“I think the city is doing a fantastic job of responding to the needs of pedestrians and cyclists,” he said.

“We’re not going to get that increased (bicycle) ridership until our infrastructure improves and there needs to be a lot of improvement to get that ridership up,” Sule said.


Rainbow Community School hopes to double its campus

photo Rainbow Mountain

Photo by Bill Sanders

ASHEVILLE —The typical players in the resurgence of West Asheville’s Haywood Road corridor have been eclectic eateries, hip boutiques and various entertainment venues, along with young families drawn to its friendly residential streets and avenues.

Now, a longtime private school in the middle of the main drag is stepping into the spotlight to offer its own boost to the neighborhood.

Rainbow Community School, founded in 1977 at 574 Haywood Road, is in the midst of its “Rainbow Rising” capital campaign to raise $200,000 toward a down payment on the adjacent West Asheville Church of God property at 60 State St., which would more than double the school’s 2.4-acre campus.

But the benefits would extend beyond the 160 students Rainbow serves, opening doors of opportunity for the larger community with the addition of an athletic field, a 300-seat performance hall and other spaces available for public use.

“It’s uncanny how perfect the property is for our school, and it is seamlessly adjacent to our current campus on the back side along State Street,” said Rainbow’s executive director, Renee Owen.

“The church is experiencing growth in its congregation and has plans to move to a new larger location, so the timing was impeccable,” she said. “Rainbow was getting ready to build onto our current buildings when this opportunity arose.”

To seize that opportunity, Rainbow has until Dec. 20 to raise money for the down payment to secure a loan, to be followed by a three-year campaign to raise an additional $400,000 toward purchase and renovation of the property and development of a new minipark along Haywood Road.

The next fundraiser is 3-6:30 p.m. Dec. 7 in the performance hall on the church property, with entertainment from local performers, including the Virginia Dare Devils and members of Zansa.

Owen said Rainbow has expanded its vision over the last two years to become more involved with its neighbors —even changing its name from Rainbow Mountain Children’s School to include the word “community.”

“We are an urban school and feel called to connect with our West Asheville neighborhood in a variety of ways, and one of the ways we have practiced that is by adopting Children First/Communities in Schools,” she said.

“For the last two years, we donated a significant portion of our event fundraising to Children First, and each class provides service, such as a mitten and coat drive or donating Thanksgiving meals,” Owen said. “And our older students tutor at Deaverview’s after-school program, which is run by CIS.”

Community impact

With the project, Rainbow hopes to expand its reach even further, from impact on the environment to becoming a community resource. Among its plans:

•Developing a site plan to reduce heat gain and water runoff from the church parking lot to the French Broad River at Carrier Park; the asphalt lot will be reduced and buffered with permeable runoff controls; scientific permaculture gardens will be installed; and old-growth trees on the campus will be preserved.

“Essentially, five green acres in the heart of West Asheville will be preserved from development and dedicated to education and community betterment,” Owen said.

•About half of Rainbow’s Haywood Road frontage will be converted from a parking lot to a park for residents and visitors to use as a resting spot and place to interact with students through student-installed interactive informational displays.

Plans include a tailgate market-like structure where students can try socially beneficial entrepreneurial plans, which is part of the sixth-grade curriculum at Rainbow.

•The 300-seat performance hall will be available to community groups and artists seeking an affordable events venue.

•Rainbow, which was honored with the Griffin Award in 1986 for preserving the historic Orr House, will preserve the main church building, which would have been at risk for destruction in favor of new development, Owen said.

•The expansion will dramatically increase the school’s role as a neighborhood resource, with space for new classes and events to join existing meditation classes, a mother-daughter group, parenting classes and the weekly services of the Church of the Garden.

•Rainbow’s strategic plan includes replicating its educational model at other schools. The new property has a parsonage that has the potential to house educators from around the world being trained in the Rainbow model.

Community support

The expansion project is gaining widespread support from neighbors in West Asheville and beyond.

“Rainbow seems to be doing a really, really nice job of —I hate to use the word ‘alternative’ —and at the same time rigorous education, and I like that combination a lot,” said Rob Pulleyn, who is chairman of the Penland School of Crafts and is donating to Rainbow’s capital campaign through his Walnut Fund with the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina.

“I like that you can have a relatively loose school that is actually quite tight, that has high standards and high expectations,” Pulleyn said.

“Rainbow sort of sat there being a little alternative school for a generation, and then all of a sudden it’s really blooming, and I think the regeneration of West Asheville has been a catalyst for that as well.”

Nancy Hodges, watershed resources manager with RiverLink, said she appreciates Rainbow’s environmental stewardship, which will avert many pollutants from flowing into the French Broad.

“They’re going to remove some of the parking lot and do some water quality landscape features that will provide an educational resource for the students as well as providing treatment of the water coming off their rooftops and roadway,” Hodges said. “And that will help improve the quality of water flowing into the river.”

Brady Sleeper, owner of the Universal Joint restaurant and bar a few blocks west on Haywood Road, has shown support for the expansion by donating 100 percent of a week’s sales of Sweetwater and Sierra Nevada brews to the capital campaign.

“So many Rainbow families are West Asheville families, and Rainbow opens up their property to the community year-round, whether it’s classrooms for meeting space or the Halloween hoedown or the playground,” Sleeper said.

“The expansion is not just about helping the school out, which it will,” he said, “but it’s also going to be great for the community to have that big asset right there on Haywood Road.”

Owen said she is elated at the possibilities that can come with the expansion and said she hopes the community will help with donations.

“The opportunity to purchase the church is exciting for both the school and for West Asheville, and we are grateful to live in such a vibrant neighborhood where businesses already have offered support as sponsors, with in-kind gifts and more,” she said.

“We feel confident we can raise the down payment by the deadline, with the support of families, foundations, businesses and the West Asheville community.”

Article Written by Barbara Blake

Enter the Mothlight – New Music Venue on Haywood Road

Mothlight photo

Photo by Erin Brethauer

Amanda Hency jokes that many defining elements of The Mothlight at Mr. Fred’s were actually accidents.

“We thought we were opening a dive bar,” she said of her club, which was for years home to a West Asheville mattress and furniture store, Mr. Fred’s Beds. “It turned out much nicer than we thought.”

The three-month transformation of the former furniture store revealed a simple, stylish skeleton. The impeccable acoustics? Those come from rich wooden floors, constructed decades before she was born, which were hidden under 60-year-old carpet so worn it was more plastic than fiber. The rustic red brick walls and high ceilings help, too.

“The sound in here is amazing,” she said, “and we didn’t do anything for the acoustics other than curtains.”

But the Mothlight is less an accident, and more successful experiment, executed by skilled experts. Hency, who has a hospitality background, owns and operates The Mothlight with her husband Jon, who has spent years in the world of experimental and alternative music.

In the coming months, the space will host such acts as Lost in the Trees, an electronic four-piece set, on Dec. 13; then the popular local rock group Floating Action plays with Coconut Cake, Dec. 20; and Yuck, a droney, guitar-drenched outfit, performs Feb. 11.

Reigning Sound, a garage rock band fronted by Asheville’s Greg Cartwright, will play its first area show in years at The Mothlight on New Year’s Eve.

“We aren’t shutting out the idea of other genres of music, but the heart and the culture (of what we are doing) is really invested in stuff that is under the surface that slowly bubbles up and gets more accessible after years underground,” Jon said. “We want left of the field sources.”

The Mothlight is the fourth music venue to open on Haywood Road in just two years. In 2012, Isis Restaurant &Music Hall opened in the former Isis Theatre, just a few blocks down from The Mothlight, and has become a home for Americana, bluegrass and jazz. Isis also hosted the All Go West music festival, with a heavy emphasis on leading local rock acts.

The Double Crown also hosts a variety of cultural performances, from gospel groups to Mardi Gras Indians; The Odditorium is known for its fringe, punk and metal acts.

The Mothlight, which has hosted such shows as Angel Olsen, Richard Buckner and the Crocodiles, has already emerged as a respected destination for adventurous, eclectic acts. The 250-capacity bar, venue and gallery space is not quite two months old, but it’s the culmination of the Hencys’ professional experience and creative passions.

They operate the business as two separate entities reflective of the couple’s complimentary backgrounds, with Amanda (who’s 32) running the bar and Jon (who’s 29) handling music.

In 2006 —three years before he met Amanda at a Chicago music venue —Jon launched Bathetic Records in his home state of Arkansas. The label has since released collections from Mothlight alumni like Angel Olsen and Villagers.

The name of The Mothlight is partly inspired by the label’s first seven-inch release, “The Mothlight Part II.”

“I brought it to Chicago, and that’s where I met most of my contacts,” he said. “The world became a lot smaller with that sort of thing. I know a lot of people who tour constantly.”

When the duo met in Chicago, they knew practically immediately they wanted to start a business together. So about six months later, they moved to a tourist town in Maine to work in bars and restaurants, and save up money to fund this dream.

The spark for The Mothlight idea, however, didn’t come for years. Some early plans included operating a hostel in Nicaragua. Another one: The Bus Stop, a performance space in a retrofitted bus.

“I was researching how to gut a bus and put in a wood stove,” Jon said. “Good thing we came back to Earth.”

“Living in Maine, two people out in the woods with no Internet —that’s what happens,” Amanda added.

As they refined their business plans, they sought a Goldilocks city —not too big, not too small. Just right.

Amanda had friends from her Maryland hometown that came to Asheville for school, and stayed. Jon had some record swap friends with Asheville addresses. And, this mountain town was almost right in the middle of Jon’s hometown in Fayetteville, Ark., and Amanda’s of College Park, Md.

“Asheville has its roots, Appalachian music covered,” Amanda noted. “We have heard from a lot of people the desire for music that you get to see in bigger cities that you don’t get to see a lot here, like metal, punk, sad garage rock.”

They moved to West Asheville three years ago. “We then thought maybe we should open a music venue because that’s what we know,” Amanda said.

Jon noted that Asheville already had an experimental music audience, but it was represented in under-promoted shows or at parties. The Mothlight, he thought, could be headquarters, and encourage the scene’s development.

“We want to be a central location and want to be a home for good, reliable shows,” he said.

The Mothlight certainly spotlights music, but the Hencys envision the space being used for a variety of “interesting things outside of music,” Jon added.

They host trivia and game nights. The 10th anniversary party for Orbit DVD Dec. 14. Artist Nathaniel Rooney curated a craft market —Mr. Fred’s Fair at the Mothlight —for Dec. 17. They are working with the Fringe Festival organizers to host some cutting-edge artists during the January event.

Oh, and there’s a free retro Mortal Kombat arcade game daily near the bar.

The space also includes an art exhibit space near two artist tenants in the back. Jon said they plan to coordinate opening or closing art events with Harvest Records down the street.

“It made sense to make a cohesive community,” Hency said.

Article Written by Carol Motsinger

Source:  Asheville Citizen-Times


New Belgium Brewery Site

stockyards as junkyard


New Listing: 37 Majestic Avenue

36 Majestic Ave Asheville NC-large-001-Front-1500x996-72dpi

  • $275,000 Sold 
  • Bedrooms
  • Bathrooms
  • 2514 Square Feet
  • 0.20 Acreage

Grand home within minutes walk to all your favorite spots in West Asheville. Large rooms, hardwood floors, wrap around porch. Unfinished basement. Includes newer stove, dishwasher, washer/dryer. New roof, new zoned central heat and A/C, updated insulated windows, updated electrical and plumbing.

View my listing

Bledsoe Building in West Asheville – Circa 1976

Bledsoe Building in West Ashville circa 1976
Photo Source: Steve Feingold (AVL So Highland Rsrch)

Built in 1927, the Bledsoe Building is the largest building along Haywood Road, the main commercial corridor of West Asheville in the area of town west of the French Broad River. West Asheville had once been a separate town that developed along Haywood Road, which served as the main western turnpike from Asheville into Haywood County and further west during the mid-19th century. West Asheville was incorporated in 1889, but its charter was repealed in 1897 for reasons that remain unclear. The town was incorporated again in 1913, and was annexed into the City of Asheville on June 9, 1917, on a referendum that passed by only eight votes, indicating the desire by many to keep the area autonomous. Even today, West Asheville remains a distinct community within the City of Asheville, with its own businesses and residential neighborhoods.

By 1910, trolley service had arrived in West Asheville, with streetcar lines running from downtown Asheville west to the 700 block of Haywood Road. Some commercial buildings were constructed in the 1910s and Haywood Road was paved in 1914, but the largest period of commercial growth occurred during the 1920s. Haywood Road became the center of community life for the western section of Asheville. Architects, surveyors, real estate agents, garages, barbers, bankers, physicians, building suppliers, restaurants, dressmakers, cleaners, photographers and bakers were among the many types of businesses, professions and services that lined Haywood Road. According to Asheville city directories, the Bledsoe Building was once occupied by plumbers, groceries, bakeries, beauty parlors, cafes, pharmacists, realty offices, furniture stores and dentists.

James T. Bledsoe, owner of JT Bledsoe & Company, a real estate and insurance firm, built the Bledsoe Building during the height of the commercial development of Haywood Road. Designed in a utilitarian Commercial style, considered a reaction to the more ornate Queen Anne and Romanesque Revival styles, the Bledsoe Building was erected as a two-story freestanding brick building with a modest pattern work of brick corbelling to divide the floors and form the cornice and a central parapet roofline.

The Bledsoe Building has undergone recent renovations and has once again rejuvenated Haywood Road with the West Village Market, Orbit Video Rental, the Westville Pub, Beauty Parade Salon, and the Center for Holistic Medicine. With its commanding size and central location along this corridor, the Bledsoe Building has been a catalyst for reinvestment and a commercial hub for the West Asheville community.

The Bledsoe Building is located on the north side of Haywood Rd. at the intersection of Mildred Ave.

Source:National Park Service