Doug Beatty, founder of Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria and the Brewgrass Festival will open Bone Fire at the Hardware in Abingdon, Va. in early April. The smokehouse and music venue will offer the town its “first taste of barbecue.” Even more interesting, however, is Beatty’s reason for leaving Asheville:
“Beatty said he moved to Abingdon five years ago from Asheville, N.C., ‘because Abingdon feels like Asheville used to.’
He said the open, tolerant and artsy feel of Abingdon is similar to what drew him to Asheville in the 1980s, where he worked as a restoration general contractor and opened his first restaurant: Barley’s Taproom.
As Asheville developed, he said, the success of the health care industry there drew retirees, who drew their families, lawyers and, eventually, enough big money to drive the cost of living out of reach of the average person.
‘I end up in towns that are evolving,’ he explained, ‘so I got to Asheville in the 80s, when it was not the place to be.’
His restaurant in Asheville developed into a chain, he said, which he eventually sold before moving to Abingdon, Va., and opening the first Bone Fire Smokehouse in Kingsport, Tenn. He ran that restaurant for more than four years, he said, but it closed in December after the building was sold and he lost his lease.
He said he sees in Abingdon many of the same elements that made Asheville attractive to him back then, including a strong arts community and an active local government effort to promote downtown.
‘We started the project [in Abingdon] back in November, so this was actually going to be our second location,’ he said. “[Now] rather than managing two different restaurants 50 miles apart, I get to manage one that’s five miles from my house.’