“We’re the old dog now, in our 13th year,” says Drew Smith, owner of Westville Pub. But this old dog can learn new tricks: The West Asheville bar and restaurant recently made a major change to its front entry that not only alters the look of the place, but the atmosphere as well.
When Westville Pub opened in 2002, “Haywood Road was something that you shied away from a little bit. It wasn’t as safe and bright and beautiful, and there wasn’t foot traffic everywhere,” says Smith. The pub was set up with its bar and patio in the back, giving it a cozy, tucked-away feel. Fast-forward a decade: “Now I’m trying to embrace the foot traffic and the beautiful nature of what it’s become over here.”
To maximize on the revitalization of West Asheville, Smith installed garage bay doors in the front of the establishment, with outside seating for a patio feel. The pub has undergone regular updates over the years, closing for a few days here and there for renovations and general upkeep. But the most recent change is a big one — “You can’t miss it. You drive by and you see everybody,” Smith says.
While the owner notes that business has been great during Westville Pub’s tenure, “One thing that’s been a downfall for us over the years if that if you walk or drive by, not only can you not see in the windows, but even if you could, everybody would be in the back.” No longer. “This way, we’re putting our awesome customers up front. It’s a thank you to the people who have been here so long, and now the place is bright and airy.” (It’s not just the customers who are loyal: Smith points out that the average term of employment at the bar and restaurant is three or four years.)
Other changes to the pub include renovated bathrooms and new TVs, along with a menu that has evolved in recent years to reflect a family-friendly attitude. “Me and my kitchen manager, Josh, put a new menu out a couple of months ago in preparation for all the changes we had coming up,” Smith says. “As costs of goods keep going up, we tried to make smaller-portioned lunch items so you could come in and eat a completely filling meal for $6 or $7. But it’s still good, high-quality products and locally sourced ingredients.”
Smith aimed to complete the remodel in time for the All Go West music festival, which took place in West Asheville on June 7. That timing was fortuitous if a happy accident: “It’s been awesome for the World Cup, because there’s been this real open-air, cross-breeze warmth,” says Smith. “There’s nothing cooler than having 150 people screaming for the same thing. There’s no rivalry. Everybody’s happy together, and it’s been an awesome feeling to open back up and have that going on.”