Since the dawn of the third millennium, West Asheville has developed exponentially as a hotspot for locals and tourists alike. What was previously a low-key, blue-collar neighborhood on the decline has rapidly transitioned to a vibrant community bursting at the seams with entrepreneurs looking to add value wherever it’s needed.
But what is now a strong foothold of restaurants, bars, shops and music venues sprang from the bold actions of a few visionary trailblazers.
“I remember 15 years ago it was kind of scary, to be honest with you. Haywood Road was rough,” says Drew Smith, owner of Westville Pub and the soon-to-open Triple Seven Brewhouse. Smith is one of the originals in this new generation of Haywood Road business owners. “We were sort of pioneers in this Wild West-like situation. West End Bakery was the only other place here when we opened.”
Smith remembers days when leaving work late at night was a dark and dangerous experience. “It is just not that way anymore; it’s gotten brighter. I mean it’s gotten actually brighter — there are more lights and businesses open, so there’s just better stuff going on. It’s really nice to see the neighborhood going in that direction.”
Over the past two decades, the economic development on the piece of Haywood Road that spans from just beyond the French Broad River in East-West Asheville to Patton Avenue has been on a steady growth curve. But that progress has been especially robust this year. So far, 2017 has seen the addition of at least 16 new food and beverage businesses on what is a less than a 2-mile stretch of road.
Here’s a tour of new and upcoming Haywood Road restaurants and bars, moving from east to west.
Vintage Kava — 203 Haywood Road
Vintage Kava Bar is the result of a partnership between Vintage Kava co-owners Danielle Harrigan and Joshua Senzig and Star Shine Vintage shop owner and local artist Angie Edens. Vintage Kava, which opened Aug. 1, is inside of Star Shine Vintage, which many probably know as the rainbow building neighboring Taco Billy with the sign that says “The Coolest Stuff You’ve Ever Seen.”
The bar offers kava and other herbal teas, including kratom (made from the leaves of a Southeast Asian evergreen) and yerba mate (made from the leaves of a naturally caffeinated South American holly tree), served out of the traditional gourd with a bombilla straw. The store also sells packaged herbs and products made with cannabidiol, also known as CBD, an element of cannabis that is said to relieve anxiety and offer other health benefits.
Besides its relatively unusual menu, Vintage Kava’s home inside Star Shine assures a novel atmosphere. “The vintage store is filled with one-of-a-kind items, but also provides a cozy space to sit, relax, and have meaningful conversations,” Harrigan says, noting that the bar embraces the eclectic theme with vintage seating, a jukebox, classic games, music and colorful lights at night.
Harrigan recently hosted a talk on herbal alternatives to medications, and she says other events are planned, including open mics, social game nights and more free workshops focused on herbal teas and how to prepare them. Vintage Kava also does catering, providing educational sessions for groups along with drinks and snacks.
“Vintage Kava encapsulates a complete reflection of West Asheville,” says Harrigan. “West Asheville is full of passionate people. Over the past several years, our passion and knowledge of natural tea benefits have steadily grown, and we are dedicated to sharing it with [the community].”
Archetype Brewing – 265 Haywood Road
Archetype Brewing, which took over the space that used to be Putnam’s Auto Repair, celebrated its grand opening on July 29, joining OWL Bakery, Pizza Mind and the upcoming Gan Shan West as part of a new development on Beacham’s Curve. The craft brewery was founded by Brad Casanova and Steven Anan, who were previously employed at Hi-Wire Brewing. Archetype’s brews include a session IPA, Dry Stout nitro, oatmeal porter, chocolate porter, Belgian-style blonde, Belgian-style oatmeal pale, Hoppy Blonde, Ginger Wit IPA and Summer Saison. The taproom also offers Urban Orchard Cider Co. products on tap and Last Dance Cold Brew coffee on nitrogen. The bar has a total of a dozen taps, with two reserved for nitrogen beers.
Pizza Mind – 285 Haywood Road
Pizza Mind, which opened in March, is the creation of Matt Johnston, Jenna Findley and Brady Sleeper, who also own West Asheville Lounge and Kitchen, aka WALK. The self-described “modern-day classic pizza parlor” was the second business to join the development of Beacham’s Curve after OWL Bakery. Some of the restaurant’s signature pies are Carolina barbecue, roasted beets and cauliflower, taco and jambalaya. Pizza Mind also offers 18 taps of beer and an assortment of sandwiches, salads, appetizers and sides.
Gan Shan West – 285 Haywood Road
Later this summer, Gan Shan Station owner Patrick O’Cain is set to open Gan Shan West, a smaller, more casual version of his Charlotte Street eatery. The 900-square-foot space next to Pizza Mind will feature pan-Asian favorites that will be familiar to patrons of the original eatery, such as house-made dumplings, ramen and other noodle dishes, along with the option of grabbing to-go orders from a convenient takeout window.
Fleetwood’s – 496 Haywood Road
Fleetwood’s, a vintage shop, bar and rock-n-roll wedding chapel, opened this month in what used to be Daggitt’s Pawn Shop. The unusual store, which is owned by Simon and Christi Whiteley and Mary Kelley, offers not only automobilia, vintage clothes, records and a diverse selection of oddities, but also ice-cold beer and quickie weddings. The chapel is also available for private parties and hosts live music shows.
The Whiteleys joined the Haywood Road community in 2004, when they relocated their Hendersonville shop, Eldorado Mid Century Salvage, to what’s now known as the Eldorado Building. “West Asheville was just beginning to rear its head when we decided to jump in and be part of it,” says Christi. “We could see what was going to happen and thought of ourselves as connecting the dots between the Bledsoe Building and East-West Asheville.” After a few years, the couple bought the building, which now houses longtime tenants Desoto Lounge, Blue Ribbon Salon (closing at the end of the month after 10 years) and the soon-to-open Spider Web Tattoo.
Kelley, who moved to Asheville from Memphis, Tenn., nine years ago, says, “West Asheville needs to retain its uniqueness as it grows. What we’re doing hasn’t been done before. At Fleetwood’s, we get to marry all of the things we love to bring a unique yet quintessential ‘Weird West Asheville’ vibe to the neighborhood.”
Haywood Common – 507 Haywood Road
Projected to open in October, Haywood Common is a new restaurant and bar from Belly Up food truck owners Rob and Hannah Star. The restaurant, which will focus on seasonal, farm-to-table fare, draws on the owners’ own preferences for its concept. “We are trying to create a very communal and casual environment with a menu that will dive into local farmers’ offerings,” says Hannah. “In opening a restaurant, it was our inspiration to cater to the neighborhood’s needs by creating the kind of space that we would like to frequent.”
The menu will feature shareable options as well as salads and sandwiches for lunch and more composed dishes in the evening. “We’ve always enjoyed twisting classical technique with down-home favorites,” Hannah notes. “Haywood Road is exploding with new ideas that favor its kinship to uniqueness. It’s so fun to see what is building up around our neighborhood, and we are thrilled to be a part of the action.”
The Whale Craft Beer Collective — 507 Haywood Road
The Whale Craft Beer Collective, which shares a building at 507 Haywood Road with Haywood Common, aims to open in early October. Owners Jesse Van Note and Andrew Ross hope to establish an approachable community space that showcases international beers with an emphasis on hard-to-find brews. In fact, the business gets its name from a beer-trading term for rare beers.
The Whale will have 20 taps, an extensive bottle list and will offer educational programs for beer enthusiasts. As Xpress reporter Scott Douglas wrote in his recent piece about The Whale, “Van Note’s succinct explication of The Whale’s guiding ethos suggests a venue intended for drinkers seeking to engage with beer on a deeper level.”
In addition to indoor seating, The Whale will feature a large outdoor patio. A food menu from neighbor Haywood Common will be available.
One World Brewing – 520 Haywood Road
One World Brewing, which launched downtown in the basement of Farm Burger a little over three years ago, has plans to open a second 10-barrel brewhouse and taproom on Haywood across from Zia Taqueria. The brewhouse isn’t expected to be in production until February, but the taproom — which will feature a backyard space called The Grotto with a stone patio, outdoor beer bar, games, a fire circle, food trucks and live music — is slated to open this fall, serving both beer and craft cocktails. In contrast to its downtown spot, the new location will offer ample parking.
Owner Lisa Schutz says she is excited to join the action on Haywood Road. “We love West Asheville and appreciate the thriving community — people are out and about biking, walking, going out and being social. We are happy to be one of several new businesses opening within the next several months in the same section of Haywood,” she says.
Local Bottle Shop 604 – 604 Haywood Road
Local Bottle Shop 604 is a partnership between Asheville musicians Jamie Howton and Christopher Johnson. “Our vision for Local 604 is for it to be the West Asheville bodega,” says Howton. “We will carry beer, wine, cigarettes, sandwiches, soft drinks, coconut water and other healthy and locally made snacks and whatever else the neighborhood wants us to carry.”
Howton says the shop, which opened this month, will eventually add tap lines for kombucha and several low-volume local beers for tastings and filling growlers. There will be free Wi-Fi and a small lounge area, and the owners plan to spin records or host live electronic music performances during hours of operation, which will include late night. “I think we will fill a void in the neighborhood for a late-night convenience store that has existed since I&J closed down earlier this year,” says Howton. “We hope to be a valued business in West Asheville for years to come and provide the services that are most valuable to our neighbors and visitors from out of town.”
Sub Grasso – 643 Haywood Road
Sub Grasso opened in early June, slinging classic Italian sandwiches, sides and salads in the space previously occupied by Pineapple Jack’s. Grasso means “fat” in Italian, and that moniker shines through in items like the loaded Alfredo fries, which are smothered in creamy Alfredo sauce and mozzarella, then topped with crispy pancetta, Parmesan and fresh herbs.
As for subs, meat lovers will find Italian favorites like meatball marinara and chicken Parmesan, while vegetarian choices include a meat-free Philly cheese sandwich a veggie Italian sausage sandwich with No Evil Foods proteins. Owner Dan O’Donell says that after Labor Day, the shop, which is open 11:30 a.m.- 9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, will add pasta dishes for dinner plus a Saturday brunch menu. Every Wednesday, Sub Grasso offers half-priced bottles of wine, and there’s always an assortment of local beers on tap.
Haywood Country Club – 662 Haywood Road
Haywood Country Club, a collaborative project from Cascade Lounge owners Corey Israel and Trevor Smith and Banks Avenue bar owners Benjy Greene and Scott Thomas, will take over the old I&J convenience store building this fall.
“[Our] goal is to provide a family-friendly neighborhood meetup,” says Smith. “That will be a nice patio for an after-work drink; a tasty, inspired cocktail or even a late-night dance party or two.”
There will be pool tables and other bar games, 12-16 beer taps and an outdoor patio area big enough to accommodate food trucks.
Smith says the owners are excited to join the Haywood Road business community. “I am an Asheville local who grew up skateboarding all over Haywood Road when there was barely any traffic, and the old ice service [previously located where Haywood Country Club will be] was the place to meet up,” Smith says. “We’re honored to be a part of the change of Haywood Road, and we believe that what we’re doing will have a positive impact on that particular stretch of Haywood.”
Foothills Meats butcher bar – 697 Haywood Road
Foothills Meats plans to make its West Asheville debut in September with a new concept that’s equal parts old-school butcher shop, meatcentric restaurant and friendly neighborhood bar. The butcher shop will feature a browse-and-buy counter offering products such as ground beef, pork chops, steaks, bacon, hot dogs and sliced deli meats.
The restaurant will serve a menu of handmade burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, tallow fries and daily specials — items already familiar to patrons at its location at Hi-Wire Brewing in Biltmore Village. Draft beer and cans, as well as simple cocktails, will be served at a bar made from materials salvaged from an old bowling alley in North Canton, Ohio.
“We’ll definitely start with dinner, and certainly we’ll add lunch as soon as we think we’re ready to,” says Foothills Meats owner Casey McKissick. “And I think Sunday brunch is something that we’re all excited about as well.” He adds that a late-night food menu and hours might be added if there’s demand.
BimBeriBon – 697 Haywood Road
Reza Setayesh and Mitch Orland began kicking around the idea of BimBeriBon about a year and a half ago. Setayesh previously owned Piazza pizzeria in Fairview and Rezaz in Biltmore Village and now co-owns Baba Nahm downtown with current Rezaz owners Brian and Laura Smith. Orland is a chef who has worked in various capacities with Wild Oats, Sunflower Markets and Earth Fare.
“Light, airy, fresh, fun, happy is sort of the vibe that’s happening here,” says Setayesh of what he has planned for the space. The counter-service eatery, which will occupy the space that formerly housed The Barleycorn and, before that, the beloved Burgermeister’s, will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner. There will also be a full bakery shop, a grab-and-go cooler and a to-go window that will open as early as 7 a.m. to sell coffee and muffins before breakfast service begins.
A wine and cider bar will be open later in the day, and there will be a selection of craft cocktails. Setayesh is also considering offering late-night grab-and-go options.
Food offerings will be eclectic. “The cuisine is international, so we’ll be playing with some Indian dosas, paninis, a lot of healthier salads, we’ll have a smaller carving station — just a little bit of everything,” he says. The entire menu is vegetable-centric with protein options playing a more subdued role. “The idea here is for the food to really make you feel good,” says Setayesh.
Construction has been in high gear since February and is nearly complete. Check bimberibon.com for updates on the opening.
Jargon – 715 Haywood Road
A combination high-end restaurant, bar and music venue, Jargon opened in May after owner Sean Piper took great pains to restore the nationally registered historic building that used to house the old Schultz Shoe Shop.
The dinner menu covers a lot of ground with influences from around the globe — oven-roasted octopus, a bistro filet and Verlasso salmon share the spotlight with dishes such as General Tso’s quail, smoked dashi ramen, and shrimp and grits. In addition to a full bar with craft cocktails, beer and wine selections, the restaurant serves “blunch” 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sundays and offers a late-night food menu until 1:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Anchor Bar + Kitchen – 747 Haywood Road
Anchor Bar + Kitchen, which held its grand opening Aug. 14 in the former Buffalo Nickel space, is a project of Jimi Rentz, Danny McClinton and Hamlin Beattie. Rentz and McClinton opened Barley’s together in 1994 and Salvage Station last year along with Matt Regaller.
“When we opened Barley’s back in ’94, there was actually quite a bit of traffic coming over from West Asheville,” says Rentz. But in the early 2000s, as tourism blossomed downtown and West Asheville began to reinvent itself, Rentz says, he noticed a drop in his West Asheville clientele.
When Buffalo Nickel closed several months ago, Rentz called building owner Rob Foster and worked out a deal to take over the space and create a restaurant and bar similar to Barley’s. “It was a seize-the-moment situation,” Rentz says. “I realized a long time ago that you’re afforded opportunities throughout your life, and you have to be responsible enough to know which ones to say yes to and which ones to say no to; it’s those open doors that you’ve got to pay attention to.”
The food at Anchor is inspired by the menus at both Salvage Station and Barley’s, with concessions made to suit the new space. “The existing hood system wasn’t big enough to accommodate the big ovens that we use, so I found some smaller ovens and that dictated that we would be making a smaller pizza here,” says Rentz. The same dough used at Barley’s is made into 8-inch and 12-inch pies with very thin crusts and a light, simple sauce.
There’s also sports-bar fare such as wings, nachos, burgers, chicken sandwiches and more. The bar features 26 beer taps, 10 televisions upstairs and will feature the NFL Sunday Ticket this fall for football fans.
Triple Seven Brewhouse – 777 Haywood Road
Also planning on catering to football fans is Triple Seven Brewhouse, the upcoming expansion of Westville Pub, a West Asheville staple since it opened in 2002. “We’re coming along pretty good,” says owner Drew Smith, noting that after 17 months of work on the space, all the permitting and “behind-the-scenes stuff” is already done with the goal of opening in time for football season so it can offer the NFL Sunday Ticket.
“We probably won’t have our beer ready by then,” he says. “But we’ll at least be expanded into the other space, and extra seating should be ready by September.” The expansion will allow Westville’s kitchen and bakery operations to spread out as well.
“I’m already incredibly excited about the bread we’re putting out. Everything made at Westville Pub is completely from scratch and homemade stuff, but it’s been very tough to bake all of these good through this renovation process, and our baker, Meg Shearer, who owns Whisk AVL, has been amazing during the process,” Smith says.
Smith says the brewery will start out relatively simple, focusing on “a superhigh-quality product of the most palatable beer we can serve our regulars for a lower price.” At first, customers can definitely expect an IPA, a pilsner or lager, a pale ale and “something on the darker side,” and from there the styles will branch out. The renovated patio will offer more seating and an area to relax and watch the brewers at work.
Although the explosive growth on Haywood Road has made for lots of competition, Smith embraces it. “It has actually allowed us to create more of our own identity a bit over the years,” he say. “It’s neat at this point to just be kind of home base — I love that term. If everybody wanted to meet at the pub and figure out what they’d want to do for the night, I’d love that.”
NOTE: In the print version of this story, Reza Setayesh was incorrectly identified as the owner of Rezaz and Baba Nahm. The online story has been redacted to indicate that Setayesh previously owned Rezaz and now owns Baba Nahm with current Rezaz owners Brian and Laura Smith.