From England to Asheville: Pete’s Pies comes to Lexington

PIE GUY: Pete’s Pies owner Pete Waissen, a London native, will feature savory pies and English pub food at his new eatery, which will occupy the Lexington Avenue courtyard space that previously housed Creperie Bouchon.
PIE GUY: Pete’s Pies owner Pete Waissen, a London native, will feature savory pies and English pub food at his new eatery, which will occupy the Lexington Avenue courtyard space that previously housed Creperie Bouchon. Photo by Nick Wilson

Ashevilleans looking to escape the cold this winter may find refuge in downtown’s newest eatery and watering hole: Pete’s Pies. Designed to replicate the cozy, warm and welcoming vibe of a traditional British pub, Pete’s will feature hearty English fare, a wide selection of local and British brews, regular broadcasts of English football matches and an expansive heated courtyard garden. Taking over the former home of Creperie Bouchon at 62 N. Lexington Ave., the pub is set to open Friday, Dec. 9.

The new venture is the lifelong dream of London native Pete Waissen. The recent Asheville transplant, a former industrial business manager and mechanical engineer, has always loved cooking. At the tender age of 10, Waissen would help his mother cook big, traditional British meals for his eight siblings. Many of the dishes he’ll be serving at Pete’s Pies trace back to those family meals; others are variations developed during his years as a home chef.

Waissen came to Asheville to be closer to his two sons: Jack, a 2012 graduate of North Carolina Central University in Durham, and Matt, a 2013 UNC Asheville alum. Both came here on collegiate tennis scholarships and have remained stateside ever since.

Both sons are financial partners in the new family business, but it was Matt, who’s lived here since 2009, who initially pitched the idea to his father. “I’ve always missed the pies from England, and Asheville is just such a unique place to have a restaurant,” he explains.

The pies in question are hearty, savory meat-and-vegetable dishes. “They’re such a huge part of any British person’s life,” Matt explains. “Americans don’t really know much about meat pies, but it’s just sort of a staple, something you might throw in a kid’s lunchbox.”

Pete’s menu will feature such treats as Steak & Mush (tenderloin, mushrooms, brown gravy, puff pastry and cheese); Beef & Ale (sirloin, carrots, peas and local brew); Pub (chicken, seasonal vegetables, cheese and white wine gravy); and Garden (roasted local vegetables, red wine gravy and mash).

Standard pub grub (think fish and chips) will also be on offer, along with assorted “butties” (British sandwiches) ranging from corned beef and lamb to vegetarian options featuring egg and roasted eggplant. Salads and sides will favor locally sourced ingredients, and vegetarian plates will include a pad thai made with sweet potato noodles. Desserts include a seasonal fruit tart, crème brûlée and flavored sorbet.

Waissen enlisted executive chef Josh Jones to help bring the menu to life. Trained in classical Italian cuisine, Jones attended culinary school in Florence, and he’s worked at Vinnie’s Neighborhood Italian in Asheville and other restaurants across the country.

“Pete isn’t much of a recipe follower,” Jones says, laughing. “A lot of the menu ideas come from Pete’s brain; others are a collaboration, but I know how to piece recipes together and make them work on a large scale.”

Lake Lure native Chelsea Zappel will serve as front-of-house manager. Having previous experience at Farm Burger, Zappel says she’s excited to help bring a true British pub to life in Asheville. She sees enormous potential in the allure of the garden courtyard, which may be downtown’s largest covered seating area. The space features heat lamps and an outdoor stage that will eventually be put to use, says Zappel.

The new watering hole also plans to establish a strong relationship with local breweries. “We really want to match the drinks with the food,” says Waissen.

Matt agrees, noting, “I’m not sure that there’s too many restaurants downtown who really advertise the fact that they use local brewers’ beer in their recipes, but that will be something that we’ll definitely be doing.”

And while the core team says it’s starting off small, it has a bigger vision for the future. “The grand plan,” says Waissen, “is to eventually expand, renovate some additional space and add another bar portion if all goes well.” He intends to eventually do breakfast, opening extra early on days when English football matches air at 7 a.m. He might also offer catering and maybe even a Pete’s Pies food truck.

In the meantime, Pete’s Pies looks to be a potential fixture for those eager to grab a pint, enjoy traditional British pub grub and watch a football match among friends.

Pete’s Pies opens Friday, Dec. 9, at 62 N. Lexington Ave., accessed through the courtyard to the right of Virtue boutique. A second entrance on Carolina Drive, off Walnut Street, also leads to the courtyard. Hours will be 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. For more information, visit petespiesavl.com.

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About Nick Wilson
Nick Wilson is a free spirited guy who enjoys curious adventures and seeing his consciousness evolve. A native of the Midwest, he attended Indiana University and recently moved to Asheville after 8 years in Los Angeles to focus on writing and deliberate creation. Follow me @njdwo

25 thoughts on “From England to Asheville: Pete’s Pies comes to Lexington

  1. The Real World

    Oh boy, this looks fun and tasty. I’ll take a Lamb Buttie, please. Or this pie: Garden (roasted local vegetables, red wine gravy and mash). Love that courtyard too. Bring it.

  2. Lulz

    LOL in Asheville, we open restaurants after a primary careers. And hire chefs to do the cooking and someone else to greet the customers. Hence why the gimmicks are needed. And why they suffer from revolving door opening and shutdowns. Which one of these guys who owns the business is going to get their hands dirty? Not a particular critique of them but a general view of the type of people with no restaurant experience who assume running a one is cut and dry. It’s not.

    You know the town has reached it’s touristy zenith when the restaurants have to all sell the same swill from local brewers and use it as a focal point to attract customers.

    • Kim

      Wow Lulz you should have your facts straight before you blurt incorrect information on line. While Pete doesn’t have a great amount of restaurant experience he can cook far better than many chef’s I’ve come across. He’s hands will get quite dirty as he will be cooking right along side the Chef that he has hired, they are all pitching in with dish duty and all other aspects of the restaurant.

      Chelsea is a graduate of UNCA with dual degrees, no dummy here. She has 7 years experience in high volume restaurants and 2 years running the catering. She’ll be a great asset to Pete.

      I am looking forward to the opening and wishing them all well!

      • Lulz

        LOL, OK. Didn’t know working in an Italian restaurant is part of a regimen for British food LOL. And there’s 3 owners here. Why do we have a need to hire for the front of the house again??? And what do 2 degrees have to do with it? Degrees have ZILCH to do with customer service.

        Point being is people think that eating out makes them experts in foodservice. It doesn’t.

    • boatrocker

      It must either be a slow day on 4chan or else you haven’t had to tell any of ‘them’ to get off your lawn for you to try your hand at reviewing a
      restaurant that hasn’t even opened yet.

      As an aside, I’m also curious as to what beer you enjoy. Please don’t say Budweiser. Please.

      • Lulz

        LOL, not a review of this restaurant. But simply an observation of people with no experience in the industry opening them up. Work in one for a few years and then rethink it.

        Scully’s just transformed into a glorified Mexican restaurant. Their gimmick now is Tequila. And their chef is and wait, not Mexican.

        Katie Button OTOH is making it because she put some miles working in various restaurants before owning one. And she’s quite familiar with how they run. And it’s her rep on the line in the end.

        • boatrocker

          Scully’s was sketchy before they turned it into whatever it us now. That space is doomed as was the sofa bar there and Gatsby’s prior to that. Of all the places to reference- there are a handful of good ones if you do feel the need to step out and let somebody else cook.

          Not that I go downtown for that unless a rare occasion happens like winning the lottery or having to entertain friends from out of town.
          As for a chef not being Mexican, a little known secret- a large portion of chefs in any given Chinese restaurant are Latinos, and nobody seems to mind. I’m not Italian, but I can make some a’ spicy meatballs, etc.

          For having experience running a place or not, one has to start somewhere I suppose. But good lord, at least let the place open and eat there before casting the first stone. Who knows- maybe the owners are fellow rabid libertarians or whatever you call those posts?

          If morons in Asheville will read ‘reviews’ from that guy from ashevegas who never bathes (I’ve smelled him in a restaurant a few tables away- ick) and take it as gospel, then I suppose you could do better- go try a pie and tell us how it was. Or not- I don’t care.

          Like it or not, Asheville is now an annoying tourist town (much more so than say 10 years ago) for many reasons.
          As for some good beers from the British Isles, the original owner of a little place in E Asheville used to ship quite a good selection of hard to pronounce German, English and Belgian beers from across the pond, but not so anymore so it looks like we’re stuck with Dad craft beer type stuff.

          And you still hadn’t answer my query as to what sort of beers you enjoy.

          • boatrocker

            Sorry- for posting one word and not telling us who you think is rude,
            please at least include a noun.

  3. Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

    I have never met a meat pie that I didn’t like. It would be interesting to see if this person’s wares could change my mind.

    • boatrocker

      Yea, from your posts I’d think you were a bratwurst and sauerkraut kind of guy, maybe with a strudel of some sort for dessert.

          • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

            Until you posted this number I had no idea what it meant, except a 1488 5V-RS232 chip that I used to work with. Figures you would be so obsessed with such a thing. Probably picked it up at the moveon.org, DU or dailykos echo chambers.

          • boatrocker

            Uh huh. the 14 is what alt righters make their children memorize and recite before being fed as blessing, and 88 is your new prez.

  4. Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

    Correction: I have never met a meat pie that I liked.

  5. Chip Kaufmann

    I just hope they’ll carry a wide selection of U.K. brews as you can get the local stuff everywhere else. I’ve missed them since Hannah Flanagan’s closed. Nothing better to wash a meat pie down with.

  6. Sounds Promising

    Love me some pasties, shepherds pie, and fish and chips. Will Definitely support this.

  7. M Frances

    Can’t wait to try this place! Sounds delicious and like there’s great people at the helm. I’m sure you’ll have wonderful success. Welcome to the Asheville food scene and best of luck!

  8. luther blissett

    Looking at the menu, $14-16 for a pie feels like a stretch for the downtown restaurant scene, especially at lunch. Yeah, that rent won’t pay itself, but the $10 mark before drink/tip still represents a mental barrier for locals considering lunch options. (Not saying it’s fair, just saying it exists.) And even now, it’s the locals at lunch who’ll get you through the winter months.

    Unsolicited advice: sell Cornish pasties to go, ideally at the same price as a burrito from Mamacitas.

  9. Jennifer

    I’ll try it. I love meat pie. We made a Shepard’s pie with lavender and it was amazing.

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