Small Bites

West Asheville residents have been getting their cool-treats fix this summer from Lucia’s Gelato, a tented gelateria operated by Elizabeth and Matt Mullen. The couple started selling gelatos and sorbets two years ago, after their attempts to seduce Ultimate Ice Cream and Sweet Heaven to set up shop on the west end of town were rebuffed. “If we were going to make it, we were going to make superior,” Elizabeth says of their homemade product. “We make everything from scratch,” she continues. “The only mix we use is milk, because North Carolina won’t let us pasteurize it.” The law also prohibits the Mullens from letting folks inside their building at 15 Blue Ridge Ave., since they haven’t yet built an ADA-compliant bathroom. But Elizabeth says they’re planning to finish the bathroom and storefront this fall. In the meantime, their gelato is available at Mamacita’s and under the tent, every day from 4 to 10 p.m.—assuming they don’t run out of inventory. Their espresso gelato and coconut-lime sorbet go fast (“We’re going to nickname it ‘crack,’” Elizabeth says.) Beat the crowd by getting there early; most folks show up around 8:30 p.m., in time to watch the primrose bush bloom. “We’re all about the community coming together and hanging out,” Elizabeth says.

Asheville’s three Port City Java locations recently “de-branded,” in the lingo of a company representative who spoke on condition of anonymity. According to the unnamed spokesperson, the licensee—who did not return calls for comment—opted to let his license lapse and continue operating his shops in north Asheville, Candler and the Sayles Bleachery development under the name Mountain Java. “It makes me sad,” the spokesperson said. “Those were some of the earliest stores in our system.” Port City Java, which has 48 locations in nine states (and one location each in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia), has no announced plans to return to Asheville.

“This Saturday I discovered some crushing news,” a Weaverville native wrote the Xpress earlier this month. “I went to HB’s Drive-In to eat, only to discover that it was OUT OF BUSINESS … I am absolutely devastated.” Kelly Johnson wasn’t the only one—the recent closure of the hot-dog and barbecue joint shook area residents who’d been eating there for three decades. “People are very upset about it,” says Courtney Gooden, who works at nearby Nationwide Insurance. The restaurant’s phone has been disconnected, but word is the owners were the first on the Weaverville Road strip to sell their property to the adjacent Reynolds Mountain development. According to Reynolds Mountain spokesman John Metcalf, the development has since sold the property, along with a deed laden with requirements for the buyer. “To say we’re completely disconnected would be untrue,” Metcalf says. “We’re watchful of it. It plays an important role in our project.” Metcalf says the building will house another restaurant that will be open to the general public.


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