Small Bites

Short Street Cakes: Jodi Rhoden is finally phasing out the coffee shop she never wanted in the first place.

When Rhoden (pictured here) opened a retail outlet for her immensely popular Short Street Cakes at 225 Haywood Road in West Asheville, friends prodded her to include a breakfast nook where customers could linger over coffee and cupcakes. Much to Rhoden's relief, the envisioned throngs of café-goers never materialized.

Photo by Jonathan Welch

"We really don't have a lot of people hanging out, eating cupcakes," she says. "It's great because I never wanted to have a coffee shop."

What Rhoden wanted was a cakery, and she's spent the last week reconfiguring shop space to better showcase her focus. She's repositioning her cake case at the front of the store, allowing her to expand production space.

"The production space will feel more open, and the public portion will be tighter and cozier," Rhoden explains, adding the renovation was partly necessitated by an almost fully booked fall-wedding season.

Short Street customers may notice a few subtle changes when the shop reopens Aug. 12 after a weeklong closure: Rhoden is considering "streamlining" the store's hours, and she's planning to start offering a few cash-and-carry cakes. "You can just come in, grab a cake and go," she says.

Rhoden, who will roll out a new cake menu in October, is delighted to have more room in which to bake her coconut, hummingbird and banana-pudding cakes.

"I'm just doing my cakes," she says excitedly.

For more information, call 505-4822.

Thirsty Monk South:  In keeping with its monkish devotion to service, the Thirsty Monk is readying to open a south Asheville location.

"There's really nowhere to drink down there," owner Barry Bialik says of his expansion plans.

Bialik says he hopes his pub in Gerber Village on Hendersonville Road will become a gathering spot for area ale drinkers. Like the Thirsty Monk downtown, the south Asheville offshoot will feature an extensive beer selection and a limited menu of small plates.

At press time, Bialik planned to open the new bar this month. To find out more, call 254-5470.

Fig Bistro: Brunch has been added to the offerings at Biltmore Village's Fig Bistro, which announced in a recent e-newsletter that it plans to approach Sunday mornings with the same culinary seriousness it's long brought to Saturday nights.

"We're pulling out all the stops," writes Treavis Taylor, who co-owns the eatery with his wife Traci.

Menu items include smoked salmon salad, quiche, hanger steak with poached eggs and lemon-cornmeal pancakes.

Fig, at 18 Brook St., is open every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. To learn more, call 277-0889.

The Cellar Door: Balmy weather this summer has inspired The Cellar Door in Black Mountain to expand its outdoor seating and add a few informal, patio-worthy dishes to its lunch menu.

The new kid-friendly options — which are available to diners of all ages — include pepperoni pizza, hot dogs, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chicken tenders and cheeseburgers. Owner Sandra Ewing confirms that the restaurant's soups, salads and upscale entrées will remain on the menu.

In other kitchen news, some of The Cellar Door's dinner-cooking chores are now being handled by the team behind "Chefs on the Go," the mobile food cart profiled in the June 17 edition of Xpress. According to co-owner Scott Schronce, the pair will continue to operate the cart.

The Cellar Door, at 117-C Cherry St., is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 9:30 p.m. The restaurant serves Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is closed on Mondays. For more information, call 669-9090.

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