RETURN OF THE RAIL: For more than 20 years, a collective of WNC communities between Asheville and Salisbury have strived for the return of regular passenger rail service into the region. At a March 2 meeting, the WNC Rail Corridor Committee outlined a new three-pronged strategy to reinvigorate freight service, expand excursion train opportunities and explore a pilot thruway bus service into the region through Amtrak. Photo by Max Hunt

WNC Rail Corridor Committee hatches new strategy

For more than 20 years, the WNC Rail Corridor Committee has worked tirelessly to prove the economic viability of restoring the historic rail link between Salisbury and Asheville. With changes in the rail industry looming and younger travelers showing increased interest in train travel, the committee is partnering with towns and municipalities and freight rail companies to pursue a new, three-pronged strategy.

ICYMI 3/30

ICYMI: Xpress feature reads of the week

Ahh, Spring is in the air! The tourists are buzzing around downtown and the lovely smell of Bradford pear trees is wafting on the breeze….which means we’re probably in for a heavy frost or one more freak snow shower in the coming weeks. Anyway, here’s some feature stories from the past week, if you’re looking […]

FORWARD MARCH: Luella's Bar-B-Que co-owner Jeff Miller, pictured with wife and business partner Ashley Miller, says he's been scouting a second location since 2014. The new spot in Biltmore Park will replicate Luella's existing menu with a refreshed ambiance once it opens in March.

Small bites: Luella’s opens second location in South Asheville

Luella’s Bar-B-Que will duplicate its pork-purveying efforts with a new location in Biltmore Park; Asheville Wine & Food Festival has announced its first Asheville Cocktail Week; Local Provisions is serving Italian wines with the flavors of winter at a pairing dinner; and The Hop Ice Creamery is celebrating its first year with free kiddie scoops for all.

WINE AND DINE: After a health scare shifted their priorities in life, Katrina and Daniel O'Donell completely revamped their just-opened fast-casual restaurant, Arancini, into a wine bar with Italian-inspired small plates. The warm, low-lit ambiance complements the couple's new mission to host stress-less bonding opportunities among friends, they say.

Small bites: Arancini transforms into a wine bar

Shortly after opening, West Asheville newcomer Arancini morphed from a fast-casual Italian eatery to a wine bar; Fifth Season Gardening Co.’s event schedule now includes Friday evening beer samplings plus monthly fundraisers for local nonprofits; Living Web Farms’ Patryk Battle teaches gardeners to increase tomato yields through grafting; and Isa’s Bistro offers a beer dinner and weekly discounted wines.

EAT THAT: "My love of food comes through eating it," says author Simran Sethi. "I have gardens, I know how to cook, but what I really love is to eat. And I don't think I'm alone." Sethi's latest book, which includes interviews with several Ashevilleans, encourages everyday consumers to partake in food-supply chains that preserve biodiversity and terroir.

Simran Sethi revisits Asheville’s ‘grain-to-loaf’ wheat movement during book release events

Sethi’s book warns readers that a slow erosion of food biodiversity could affect beloved staples like coffee, chocolate, wine and bread. The author returns to Asheville, where she interviewed several members of local food-supply chains, for two tasting events during her book release tour.