Although Italian restaurant Nona Mia closed in June, its Haywood Road kitchen recently sprung back into action, albeit quietly. Now, with a successful soft opening under his belt, Altamont Brewing Co. owner Gordon Kear is unveiling his latest venture to the West Asheville community — a full restaurant directly beside the brewery.
“Everything is kind of beercentric — paired with beer, cooked with beer,” Kear says, adding that the short, house-made menu contains items inspired by cultures across the globe. “We’re the neighborhood brewery. We want to be the neighborhood restaurant as well.”
Kear says that although two talented chefs have designed the menu, they don’t want to tout their farm-to-table ethos, saying: “Our opinion is that if you’re not doing that already, then you’re not taking advantage of what Asheville has to offer.”
Altamont’s business model, he explains, has evolved based on observations of customer needs. This is just the latest iteration.
“People were walking across the street to the other bar and taking shots and coming back to drink beer,” he says, reflecting on the pub’s first six months without a liquor license. A similar phenomenon saw patrons nixing their final brew in favor of nearby food, which is why Altamont eventually invited food trucks to serve from the parking lot.
Still, food service remained on the back burner, he says, “and then, of course, the space became available, and I said, ‘Let’s do it!’”
Now, instead of mobile fare, Altamont’s visitors can try plates like sweet corn and crab fritters, herb and onion bread with Altamont golden pub cheese, Korean barbecue flatbread, falafel, marinated summer salad, tortas, naan tacos and other rotating specials.
Kear’s culinary team is still mapping out exactly how the two entities will be associated while maintaining distinct identities. For now, the restaurant will have table service in a quieter environment, and the brewery will have bar service (patrons take a number, and food is dropped off at tables) with music. “There’s a hole in the wall that connects the two spaces,” he adds, “so you’re able to walk through from one place to the other with your beer.” However, the restaurant side serves only the Altamont’s beer.
“Everything is superfresh and simple, and we’re trying to keep it affordable,” Kear says. “We’re trying to feed the neighborhood. I know how much they want to spend on beer. I’m pretty sure I know how much they want to spend on food.”
For example, at $12 per head, the eatery’s buffet-style brunch includes jerk chicken, curry, beef and veggie patties, rice and peas, collard greens, plus drinks like bloody mary’s and mimosas.
“We’re just going to keep trying to grow and expand our hours,” he says, “and the menu will change pretty often.”
Altamont’s kitchen, at 1050 Haywood Road, currently serves Mondays-Thursdays, 2-10 p.m.; Fridays-Saturdays, 2 p.m.-midnight; and Sundays, noon-5 p.m. Visit altamontbrewing.com for more information.