Asheville Sandwich Company has been playing hard to get. At the end of October, the small West Asheville shop opened “very quietly with purpose,” as co-owner and chef Brian Good puts it.
Near Interstate 26 at the corner of Hanover and State streets, Good has expanded West Asheville's food offerings beyond Haywood Road. “We want to make an impact here in West Asheville,” he says. “The trend nowadays is ‘the place that no one really knows about,’ so we kind of wanted to be found and get the word of mouth of the local community first before we started trying to draw in people from other places.”
When Good says local, he doesn't mean the greater Asheville area. He means right down the block. His approach to drawing nearby residents appears to be working. Most of his customers come to the store on foot. In the short time he's been open, he's already attracted regulars, including the employees at H & B Grocery, the convenience store next door, who are especially happy about their new neighbor.
The handwritten menu board above the counter offers 15 breakfast and lunch sandwiches, a small kids' menu, shoestring fries and hand-dipped milkshakes. There are regular specials, too: a soup, sandwich and milkshake. When Xpress visits, the special milkshake blends house-roasted pumpkin, seasonal spices and vanilla ice cream.
The sandwiches might be few in number, but they contain a wide variety of fillings, including prime rib, hand-breaded fish and shrimp, tofu, fried chicken, chopped pork and chicken salad. Good's favorite sandwich, the pork belly bahn mi, features glazed pork belly, pickled vegetables, fries and spicy mayonnaise on a sandwich bun. “The Vegetarian” is another menu standout; it's packed with brie, toasted pumpkin seeds, roasted pear chutney (also made in-house), honey and arugula.
Even with the specialty ingredients and house-made items, the menu remains affordable. Sandwiches range from $4.25 to $7.75. “The people deserve it,” Good says.
The shop is right around the corner from Pisgah View Apartments, managed by the Asheville Housing Authority, but Good isn't fazed by the location, despite skepticism from others. “When I tell people where our location is, people say, 'Oh, you mean kind of by the projects?” he says. “The people that I teach live here. … Food's the common denominator.” He's taken steps to beautify his small space. He's fenced in the side yard and added picnic tables for outdoor dining.
Good intentionally crafted the small but deliberate menu. “We don't want to have 50 things on our menu; we want to do 10, 12 things good,” he says. “Food should be fun. It should be interesting, and it should be a surprise as well. That's kind of what inspired the shop.”
He’s clearly having fun with the food, but not he doesn’t take it lightly. He teaches aspiring cooks and chefs through A-B Tech's GO Kitchen-Ready program, and he spends time at Candler Elementary School as part of ASAP's Chefs Move to Schools educational initiative. As he talks with Xpress, one of his A-B Tech students drops by the shop, and the two make plans to talk later. “The people that I teach live here, so I really wanted to bring good food to this community at affordable prices, and I want to be part of the Asheville revitalization,” he says.
Although Good and his two partners — one of whom is his father, Tom — are committed to their tucked-away location, Good says they designed the restaurant with an eye for expansion. “I have big goals and dreams for this business,” he says. “We could have five or six of these around town.”
Asheville Sandwich Company, 202 State St., opens daily from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Breakfast and lunch are served all day. For more information, see ashevillesandwichco.com, Facebook or Twitter @asandwichco.