Without a doubt, the first few years of the 2020s are a rough ride for the nation’s hospitality sector, and Asheville’s Foodtopia is no exception. The National Restaurant Association’s 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry report offers a somewhat sunny forecast of growth, but staffing shortages, supply chain breakdowns, rising food costs and other factors continue to make the industry’s road to pandemic recovery a rocky one.
Yet strolling along downtown Asheville’s restaurant-lined streets or driving down West Asheville’s busy Haywood Road corridor, what one observes through café windows and at bustling outdoor tables is activity and expansion, not struggle and scarcity. In characteristically tough mountain fashion, Asheville’s community of resilient, innovative restaurateurs and bar owners is steadily going about the business of turning its seemingly endless supply of pandemic lemons into lemonade — probably sweetened with local honey and accented with herbs from nearby farms.
Many savvy chefs and owners are building on their COVID-19 pivots to reimagine and reinvigorate their business models for the future, in turn providing Asheville diners with exciting new outdoor dining spaces, streamlined service models, a wealth of delicious takeout options and more. Additionally, while a scant handful of Asheville restaurants closed in the past two years, countless fresh concepts have opened and more are sprouting up every day. Truly, there’s never been a more optimal time to pull up a chair and take a seat at Asheville’s bountiful table. The menu is better than ever!
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