More good stuff coming to South Slope

New neighbors: John (left) and Julie Stehling and Burns Aldrige could open for business in South Slope as early as late summer. Max Cooper

Chicken and waffles harbor a lot of mystique. No one's quite sure where the combination originated or why it tastes so good together. What is sure, though, is that they're coming to South Slope.

As soon as late summer, the neighborhood below downtown will be home to King Daddy's Chicken and Waffle and Beer City Pretzel Company.

The eateries will set up shop in a brand new building, the first for the area since before the economic downturn of 2008. Construction on the 18,000-square-foot building will begin in the coming weeks at 44 Collier Ave., next to the forthcoming Burial Beer.

King Daddy's Chicken and Waffle is the latest venture of John and Julie Stehling, who have owned Early Girl Eatery on Wall Street since 2001. The new concept is a result of John's longtime love affair with fried chicken. “It's like bacon,” he says. “It's something that's kind of dear to me.”

While the menu will feature plenty of golden-fried fare, it will also include lighter items, such as entree-sized salads and grilled meats. “We'll definitely be health-conscious,” John says. “There will be a lot of non-fried things on the menu.”

Just don't expect the new place to be identical to Early Girl. The menus will not overlap at all, John says, and King Daddy's won't serve breakfast.

However, Early Girl's family-friendly feel will carry over. As a father of two young boys, John knows the trials of dining out with kids. “As a parent, I get tired of the same two or three food choices,” he says. “Our audience is mainly Asheville families, people who want to go out to eat and want something that's going to make the whole family happy, rather than just pizza or burritos.”

That being said, the restaurant will feature a bar on the second floor terrace of the building, and it will provide late-night service. The dining room will likely stay open until 11 p.m., and after that, food will be available through a take-out window.

The restaurant space benefits from more than 1,000-square-feet of partially covered outdoor space on the second floor (the highest level), plus additional patio space on the ground. John expects the outside seating will be a big draw.

Adjacent to King Daddy's, Beer City Pretzel Company will serve its twisted fare with dipping sauces made from local products. “We're going to have at least two dedicated taps to every local microbrewery in town,” says Burns Aldridge, who serves as real estate broker for the building and co-owns the business.

Since there are more than a dozen breweries in Asheville, the tasting room will be a strong part of the business, but it's not a bar, Aldridge says. It will open during the afternoon and evening, but it won't stay open late. “We're more of a pretzel company, but you're going to have to sell beer with a pretzel,” Aldridge says.

The space will also serve as a wholesale production facility. Aldridge hopes to supply nearby breweries with pretzels just as they will supply his shop with beer. That local cooperation is part of the new building's identity, he explains. “The building is all kind of a symbiotic relationship,” he says. “People can sit up on the rooftop and wait for their table, or they can go and have a pretzel and a beer — or just a beer — at our place while they wait.”

The building includes two other spaces. One will be occupied by an already established business involved in the craft beer industry. Those details haven't been made public yet. The other space, which measures about 1,400 square feet, is for lease. However, the tenant will be local, Aldridge says.

Most of the businesses in South Slope are local, and Aldridge says that commitment to Asheville is key to the neighborhood's identity. “It's the local feel,” he says. “As opposed to these developers coming in, buying a lot and building a skyscraper or an apartment complex.”


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