Charlie and Troy Ball provided the following response to reader concerns about Hi-Fi Cafe and their plans for the building they own at 45 S. French Broad Ave.:
There have been a lot of questions regarding our plans for the building at 45 S. French Broad. While we are founders and co-owners of Asheville Distilling, we have no plans to move that operation downtown and love our current location next to Highland Brewing.
We purchased the building on S. French Broad with the goal of breathing new life into the building by making substantial improvements toward creating a work-live-play environment with retail, restaurant and residential uses. Due to complicated title problems, we spent more than a year working through issues so that we could purchase the building.
Initially, we planned to extend leases to all existing tenants, but while we were dealing with legal problems, Hopey & Co. (formerly Amazing Savings) approached us with an expansion plan, more than tripling its current store size. The owners’ plans take them from a limited-scope grocer to a full-service grocery that will include a meat market, café and larger selections in all their mercantile areas. Fresh, healthy and affordable food within walking distance of downtown neighborhoods is much needed, and we’re very excited to have Hopey & Co. as our anchor tenant.
We also know some are sad and angry that we did not extend a lease to Hi-Fi, and the decision was not an easy one. It is a popular cafe run by people who care about the community; however, we feel our project and the neighborhood will be better served by having a more comprehensive and affordable grocery store and were concerned that competing cafés would hurt both businesses. We are also huge fans of Thai food and believe that an expanded Hopey & Co. and the addition of Little Bee Thai will positively contribute to the sustainability of our project, the health and well-being of our neighbors and the life of our community.
— Charlie and Troy Ball