Small Bites

No more noodles: Leigh Holland and her mother Gail Jones shuttered Pastabilities, their business of 13 years, on December 31. Photos by Jonathan Welch
No more noodles: Leigh Holland and her mother Gail Jones shuttered Pastabilities, their business of 13 years, on December 31. Photos by Jonathan Welch

The Salsa’s dance?

In last week's issue of Xpress, we reported that Salsa's, Hector Diaz's flagship Mexican-Caribbean restaurant, was moving. Not exactly, says Diaz.

Though Diaz Properties did recently purchase the building at 23 Broadway St. in downtown Asheville for what Diaz says was an amazing deal (although he did reveal the building has some major structural issues), Salsa’s is not making the jump any time soon. Diaz does note that he plans to put a restaurant in there — some day.

"We purchased the building as an investment, but we don't know what we're doing," says Diaz. "Not yet." But he acknowledges that it’s tempting to move Salsa's from its current cramped Patton Avenue location to the multilevel Broadway building.

Whatever Diaz does with the space, Asheville can likely look forward to another installation in the Hector food empire, which also includes Modesto and Chorizo. Diaz envisions a nightclub at the Broadway location, with food and plenty of room to dance.

“Really, what I want to do, is a restaurant that has nightlife,” says Diaz. “Maybe salsa dancing on the weekend, Monday, reggae. Tango on Thursday. Give people someplace to go out dancing every day of the week."

Wouldn’t Salsa’s, Xpress asks, be a pretty cool name for a salsa-dancing club with Mexican-Caribbean food? Diaz laughs. “You think like I do.”

Diaz says that if he does choose to move Salsa's some day, he’ll fill the Patton Avenue space it currently occupies with a unique restaurant, serving food that Asheville doesn't yet have. We'll fill you in as we learn more.

Oh, the Pastabilities

Leigh Holland and her mother Gail Jones shuttered Pastabilities, their business of 13 years, on Dec 31, after the owners of the Haywood Road building, Scott and Lilliana Woody, did not renew their lease. The Woody family plans to restore the historic building and turn it into a music venue and restaurant.

When Xpress spoke with Holland over the phone, she seemed slightly taken aback by the negative view that many — including members of the media — have taken of the lease action.

"We have known our lease was going to end for a long time. We did not have a definite date, but when we started leasing from the Woodys, their intention was always to take this building and make a music venue out of it," Holland says. "We, of course, would have liked to stay as long as we could have, and wish that we may have had a little more time, but their plans rushed along a little faster. I have no ill will toward them. I wish them the best — they've been good landlords to have."

Holland concedes that the building was too large for the restaurant, and says that it seems better-suited for a music venue. The mother-daughter team is looking to reopen Pastabilities elsewhere, and hopes to stay in the West Asheville neighborhood they have grown to love over the years. Holland also adds that she’s enjoyed witnessing the revitalization of the area — despite the fact that Pastabilities has been bumped as a result of that revitalization. "We're in the process of looking for financial backing and a new space or venue to move into," Holland says. "We love this side of town." Even though Pastabilities may downsize, the concept will remain the same. "We'll continue to make our homemade breads and sauces that we've always served."

"We want to thank everyone for giving us the business that they have over the last decade," says Holland. "I wish the Woodys all the success in the world," she adds. "They have been great business people to deal with, and I hope that they have great success. From me to them, I wish them the best."

The perfect Storm

A new restaurant and bar is coming to town. Storm, a swanky, sexy rum bar in deep jewel tones, leather and teakwood, will open at 125 S. Lexington Ave. in the space previously occupied by Vigne in Lexington Station. Storm's small plates menu looks impressive, with a selection of ceviche, including scallop with mango, mint and pomegranate and another of halibut and jalapeño. Other menu items include duck empanadas, and calamari with Sriracha aioli. A number of different sliders with hand-cut fries will be available as well, and the kitchen staff will grind their own meat.

The project is being undertaken by Tom Israel, David LeBoutillier and silent partner Jerry Scheer, all of whom have a considerable amount of restaurant experience under their belts. Israel, for example, is co-owner of Pack’s Tavern. LeBoutillier was the founding partner in several restaurants, including Charleston’s 39 Rue de Jean, McCrady’s and Poe’s Tavern. His consulting company, LeBoutillier Associates, was responsible for the creation and development of the Peninsula Grill, Hank’s Seafood, Canoe and others throughout the Southeast. His projects have garnered Esquire Awards for “best new restaurant in the country,” and accolades from such publications as the New York Times, Travel and Leisure, Southern Living and Wine Spectator magazines.

Both LeBoutillier and Israel have spent time on their share of boats, they say, and they are bringing a bit of a classy port-city feel to Storm, including the emphasis on creative rum drinks. "We've probably both also consumed our share of rum and tequila," LeButillier laughs. Storm will feature a wide selection of craft tequilas, the men say. "The beverage list is going to be very evolved," says LeBoutillier. "I want to take mixology to a different level."

The team also wants to take the act of going out for nibbles and cocktails to a different level, they say.

"To me the dining experience is the only experience where you literally control all of the senses," says Leboutillier. "No detail isn't thought about, down to the flatware. Nobody's going to walk out of there thinking, 'God, they have great forks in there.' But the combination of the food and the ambiance evokes an emotional response that is memorable. It's a whole environment, an entire experience."

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