Small Bites: Merrimon is becoming market row

Rising: Brian Ross will open his chef-driven market, Dough, in the fall.

Talk of a Trader Joe’s in Asheville has been plentiful over the past year or two. It’s now been confirmed that the Manrovia, Calif.-based grocery chain is indeed coming to 120 Merrimon Ave., necessitating the closing of several businesses, including La Carreta, a Mexican restaurant. The specialty grocery store will open in 2013 and will encompass approximately 13,000 square feet. The same area of Merrimon already hosts Whole Foods-owned Greenlife Grocery and a Harris Teeter is in the development stages nearby. On the heels of that news, we’d like to remind you to not forget about the little guy.

Xpress spoke with Brian Ross, who will open a small, chef-driven market and bakery with both dine-in and takeout food service called Dough in the fall. The new venture will be located at 372 Merrimon Ave. in a 4,000-square-foot building set on the footprint of the recently demolished Compliments to the Chef.

Does all of the grocery-store construction worry Ross, Xpress asks? “I like to think [my concept] is unique around here,” he says.

Ross comes with impressive credentials, having lent his talent to venues from the Ritz-Carlton to the Biltmore Estate. His history as a chef means that he knows what other chefs and cooks want to buy, he says. “One of the points that is going to be unique about this place is that it’s a chef-driven market,” says Ross. “My goal is to bring good stuff to the people, and this is my way of doing it.”

At Dough, Ross won’t stock 20 kinds of olive oils like some other high-end stores, he says, but he will stock two or three — and the chef-driven concept means that customers can trust that the olive oil he carries will be topnotch. That’s good news if you’ve been following recent reports that claim your olive oil could be fake (fake olive oil is reportedly a $1.5 billion industry in the United States alone, according to Food Renegade, a food-centric watchdog website).

The prepared foods Dough will offer, says Ross, will be made with high-quality items, such as sustainable seafood and meats and local and organic produce when possible. “That’s how I feel about everything,” he says. “It just has to be of a certain quality. I’m not here to knock anyone, but with some of these corporate entities does come a lot of mediocre product. This is for us — this is for people that live here. And, I’m not saying that Whole Foods isn’t for the people who live here and Trader Joe’s isn’t going to be for the people that live here, but there is a corporate piece of that, and we are very independent.”

As the name “Dough” might suggest, there will be fresh-baked goods available for purchase, as well as retail items that may appeal to bakers, says Ross. “But there really isn’t a theme … it’s just really good food, whatever those things will be — and we’ll be flexible.” High-quality retail goods for the home cook will be available, like great flour for pasta making. Small-production wines will be available, too. Dough will also offer in-house cooking classes and special-event dinners and private parties.

For more information, visit Dough’s Facebook page.

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