Time for taste
In the 2010 Best of WNC poll, Mountain Xpress readers named “Jewish Deli” one of Asheville's still-needed restaurants. The next January, Viva Deli opened at 625 Haywood Road. After 2011's votes were tallied, Viva tied for first place in the “Sub Shop/Deli/Sandwiches” category and a New York-style deli was no longer on Asheville's wish list.
Despite its quick popularity, Viva has struggled with the often cumbersome task of accessibility — being open at the right times — and the realities of labor and other overhead costs. “There's so much dead time [between] the lunch to dinner crowd,” says co-owner Glenn Goldberg. “Those off hours are extremely bad; [it was] not worth it to stay open all that time.” So Goldberg and company are experimenting with some adjustments. The new hours will focus on statistically active periods: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Hope you wrote that down.)
According to Goldberg, the changes reflect a quantity/quality dilemma. “We’re a place that really does make everything — the amount of things we make from scratch, every salad in that deli case, that’s where we had to pick and choose versus the labor hours in order to still have the quality,” he says.
So, consider it an exchange of time for taste. “There will be more things in the deli case,” Goldberg says, including “a new menu with more vegetarian options, half sandwiches, some cheaper options — more things in the price range for $4 and up.”
Goldberg hopes that a new menu paired with new hours will bring new balance. “[Our customers] have a talented palate and they want value; when they compare value, the quality and the portion, they know we’ve got pretty much everyone beat,” he says.
For more about Viva Deli, visit http://www.vivadeli.biz.
A perkier taste
The newly 30-year-old Malaprop’s Bookstore and Café has introduced a new roaster for a new decade. After many years of serving Waynesville-based Smoky Mountain Roasters, the café welcomes Mountain Air Roasting, an Asheville-based company with a very considerate motto: “It is our our mission to give you the best cup of coffee you’ve ever had, every morning.”
“It’s owned and single-handedly operated by Marshall Hance,” says café manager Hannah Campbell. “I have a lot of admiration for what he does. He just decided to be a roaster, and started his own roastery … and he’s already got some big accounts,” including Waking Life Espresso at 976 Haywood Road.
The café has been serving Mountain Air’s espresso for about a year, a switch she says was warmly received. “We really appreciated Smoky Mountain Roasters,” she says. “We’d been with them for more than a decade and had a lot of loyal customers, especially for the flavored coffees.”
The artisanal, rustic qualities of Hance’s coffee seems to fit the changing tastes of downtown’s ever-more discerning clientele. “He tries to roast as little as possible so that he can really let the coffee tastes come out,” Campbell says.
The variety of brews is as simple as it is archetypal: “We’re going to always have a light and dark roast — and a decaf,” Campbell says. “And we’ve got all-new machines — [they] just produce a way better coffee.”
Those machines currently offer Black Mountain Dark Roast, “which has cocoa and caramel notes with a soft acidity,” according to Campbell. And on the lighter side, Triunfo Verde, which “has vanilla, marshmallow and chocolate notes. It’s a perkier taste.” Prices have not changed, Campbell says.
Malaprop’s Bookstore and Café is located at 55 Haywood St. http://malaprop’s.com. For more about Mountain Air, visit http://www.mtnairroasting.com.