Small bites: Le Bon Café brings new mobile coffee option to Asheville

COFFEE ON THE GO: Chantal Berot sits outside Le Bon Cafe, with her husband Mike Razzano, who designed and built the tiny, mobile coffee shack.
COFFEE ON THE GO: Chantal Berot sits outside Le Bon Cafe, with her husband Mike Razzano, who designed and built the tiny, mobile coffee shack. Photo by Shannon Ledford

Chantal Berot isn’t quite sure how to describe her new business, Le Bon Café. Somewhere between a food truck and a tiny house, this 85-square-foot unit built atop a trailer is loaded with a refrigerator, freezer, water tank and espresso machine.

Its aesthetic and shape further complicate pinning it down. If discovered in the woods, you might assume you had stumbled upon a hobbit abode. From straight on, it could be mistaken for an oversized, decorative egg. From either side, it resembles a giant barrel of whiskey toppled over. (A whiskey barrel with windows, mind you. And shingles. OK, so maybe the whiskey barrel is a stretch).

Berot, who is originally from Ireland, has worked as a barista all over the world — from Ireland to New Zealand to Australia to the States. She says opening a coffeehouse has always been her dream. But the decision to own and operate a tiny café towed by a truck came about due to a variety of circumstances.

Two years ago, Berot and her husband, Mike Razzano, arrived in Asheville by way of Montana. Out West, Berot notes, the tiny coffeehouse business is booming. “They’re everywhere,” she says. “I really liked the idea of them and got to talking to a guy who ran one at one time. When we moved here, I noticed that the coffee culture was growing, and it’s something that I’ve always been a part of.”

Finances, however, kept Berot from the more traditional brick-and-mortar model. “I kind of thought, ‘What am I going to do? How are we going to survive?’” She knew if she wanted it to work she’d have to get creative.

Fortunately for Berot, her husband is a carpenter. Razzano built Le Bon Café with mostly reclaimed and salvaged material. Old barn wood, discarded wooden pallets and a former Pizza Hut drive-thru window were all used in its creation. “The construction is phenomenal,” she says. “I know Mike is a very talented carpenter and does amazing work, but this is a piece of art.”

The project, of course, had its challenges. The curved roof created headaches and unforeseen delays. “We anticiapted it being finished over two months ago,” Berot says. “But it’s just one of those things that we both realized was worth doing right. And now we have something really special in the end.”

Le Bon Café is scheduled to open Monday, July 4. Hours are 7 a.m.-noon Monday-Friday at The Lot on Coxe Avenue. The menu will offer traditional coffee beverages and pastries from OWL Bakery. For more information, visit facebook.com/leboncafeasheville.

Salt & Smoke opens full-time kitchen at Burial Beer Co.

The former food busking pop-up Salt & Smoke is now a permanent fixture at the Burial Beer Co. In a recent press release, Burial owner Jess Reiser says, “What drew us to [owners] Josiah and Shannon [McGaughey] as people and talents is the intrinsic way they care; the way they were willing to start small and grow as well as their constant desire to take food that has historical significance and add something to it that brings it back to their roots.” Salt & Smoke’s menu will be in constant rotation, with an emphasis on traditional European plates and Appalachian-inspired recipes.

Salt & Smoke is at Burial Beer Co., 40 Collier Ave. and is open 5-10 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 2-10 p.m. Saturday and for brunch noon-3 p.m. Sunday. For details, including menu items, visit saltandsmokeavl.com.

Powerful Probiotic Drinks workshop

Phil Desenne has been experimenting with probiotics for over 30 years. His passion for fermented food has led him all over the world to explore traditional indigenous methods that he’s since incorporated into his everyday cooking. On Thursday, July 7, Desenne will bring these insights to Hickory Nut Gap Farm, where he will teach a two-hour class. During the session, students will learn about, make and sample the differences between milk kefir, water kefir and kombucha. Participants will be able to take home live cultures and an instructional sheet.

Making Powerful Probiotic Drinks runs 6-8 p.m. Thursday, July 7, at Hickory Nut Gap Farm, 57 Sugar Hollow Road, Fairview. Tickets cost $45. Preregistration is required and is available at hickorynutgapfarm.com.

Foothills Meats Food Truck open for lunch

Foothills Meats Food Truck at Hi-Wire’s Big Top is open for take-out lunch. Items on the menu include a bologna melt, Carolina burger, Big Top salad and more. A new mobile-friendly website allows orders to be placed and paid for online.

Foothills Meats Food Truck is at 2 Huntsman Place near Biltmore Village. Customers can place and pay for their lunch order online at www.orderfoothillsfoodtruck.com. Lunch orders can also be called in at 606-9372. Lunch runs 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday.

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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. He has worked with several publications, including Gulf Coast and the Collagist. For his weekly #tuesdayhistory tidbits on Asheville, follow him on Instagram @tcalder.

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