Over the next year, a seven-acre patch of land along the French Broad River in Asheville will be transformed into a major new entertainment, recreation, food and beer hub.
Plans call for a 2,500-person capacity outdoor music venue, a smaller indoor music hall and bar, and a “soul-Americana” restaurant. The sprawling grounds at 665 Riverside Drive will also feature three different river access points and an array of outdoor leisure sport opportunities. Developers are including a parking lot that can handle 400 to 450 cars.
“The whole property’s going to sew together,” says Danny McClinton, one of the project partners.
The music venue and special event portion of the property, called the Salvage Station, will hold a soft opening Saturday, Sept. 20, hosting the official Zombie Float after-party, a benefit for the Western North Carolina Alliance. Although a permanent stage isn’t scheduled to be completed until next spring, Salvage Station will likely host a few more “big public events” through the end of the year using temporary staging, says McClinton. When complete, the outdoor venue will include a series of platforms and benches to “amphitheater it out,” he says.
Jessica Tomasin, an event producer and studio manager at Echo Mountain Recording, will be a key figure in helping determine the music programming, says McClinton, noting, “the venue will be open to all music scenes.”
Adjacent to the outdoor amphitheater, developers are renovating and expanding an existing building on the site into a 4,800-square-foot bar and indoor music venue.
The other end of the property to the north will be anchored by a new restaurant called El Camino, featuring a menu that “will sort of cater to everybody,” says McClinton. With the kitchen headed by Nate Kelly, owner of The Lowdown Food Truck, the restaurant will serve “vegetarian plates, salads, smoked and jerked meat, fish and tacos,” says McClinton. His business partners include Barley’s Taproom owner Jimi Rentz and Matt Ragaller, who says, “it will be hard for someone to go in there and not find something on the menu they like.”
As for the name, “The shape of the restaurant is sort of inspired by a 59 El Camino,” McClinton explains. “It’s a really cool-looking triangle shape, and it’s going to face out into the river. We’re going to have separate little areas where you can go and basically sit on the river. We’re going to have an order-out window so you can take food anywhere on the property.”
The restaurant bar and music venue bar will both focus on serving a large selection of canned beers, so as to avoid problems with broken glass littering the property. Bonfire pits and games like corn hole will be plentiful outside along the riverfront. And the site will welcome those who chose to travel there by boat or tube, as does the Bywater, a popular riverside bar just downstream.
Construction on the 4,700-square-foot restaurant is scheduled to begin in early December, with completion by April 2015.
The land was previously the site of Asheville Auto Parts. And its transformation from a scrap-metal yard has been in the works for years. “I was begging [the previous owners] for 15 years. I’ve always looked at this piece of land and thought, ‘That one day is going to be something,’ and here we are,” says McClinton.
With the River Arts District just to the south experiencing explosive growth, “The timing’s perfect,” he says. “This has been a real grassroots project. It’s basically a bunch of friends who have come together and made all of this happen. … It’s ever-evolving but we’re a go.”
The Salvage Station’s first public event (The Zombie Float after-party) will take place on Saturday, Sept. 20, from 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. with food trucks, local brews and music from DJ Molly Parti, Lyric and The Krektones. Admission is free.