“Everybody needs sodas and cigarettes and snacks,” says Ben’s Tune-Up co-owner Meg Alt. Now, individuals who work and play downtown have an expedient means to get these items. Ben’s Penny Mart, Asheville’s newest convenience store and hangout, is scheduled to open on Friday, Aug. 15, at 195 Hilliard Ave. adjacent to Hi-Wire Brewing. The hours of operation will be 7 a.m.-2 a.m. daily.
“We joked around about it at first,” says Alt, recounting the store’s beginnings. The Ben’s Tune-Up team apparently spent one minute too many waiting in line for snacks and drinks downtown during their building’s construction. “The line at the Hot Spot was always so long that we were like, ‘Man, there needs to be another store around here,’” says Alt.
“It’s going to be pretty basic,” Alt says of the fare that the store will carry. Typical convenience store snacks and drinks will be stocked alongside “breakfast-ish” options, none of which will be cooked. The Penny Cup Coffee Co. will roast coffee for the mart just down the street at their River Arts District facility.
The Ben’s Tune-Up kitchen crew is still hard at work developing a menu of in-house snacks for the Penny Mart, and fans of the restaurant’s ramen will be pleased to learn that a dried version of Ben’s savory noodles will top that list. Flavors are yet to be determined.
It’s not a true Asheville project until there’s beer involved. The Penny Mart will have a few beers on tap and a larger selection of beers to go, which will include “something from everyone local” as well as standard domestic brands. Several wines will round out the beverage options.
The Penny Mart will also serve as a mecca for Asheville’s tubing population. Not only will the mart offer free tube rentals (with a completely refundable deposit) that can be inflated on-site, but the store will also stock French Broad River staples like ice, coolers, and even local, live bait from Candler — those French Broad fish have discerning palates too!
The mart differs from most convenience stores in that it is designed as a hangout spot. Cable TV, a pool table and some in-store seating will all contribute to an inviting atmosphere. “It’s going to look good in there,” Alt assures.