The Woody family and chef hope Isis’ food will speak for itself.
Its facade, imposing; its name, divine. But despite the grandeur of the real estate, the family behind Isis Restaurant and Music Hall hopes for a quiet opening next week.
“We've tried to get a reign on the hype,” says Harris Woody, the oldest son in the five-member Woody family. The clan has been working together to renovate the historic theater building — which most recently housed Pastabilities restaurant — since November 2011, although they've owned the spot since 1998.
“Isis Theater, in its heyday, when it was built in the '30s, was a big community type of center for folks in this neighborhood,” Harris says. “We're trying to revive that community sense of having a place to offer the area for people to come hang out, whether it be a drink or some food or to see a show.”
The space includes a restaurant with an outdoor patio, two bars, a large stage, a balcony and a lounge complete with a grand piano. But the Woodys say the venue's large size doesn't mean its concept will be complicated or high-brow. “It's pretty much a reflection of what we enjoy,” says Scott Woody, the family patriarch. “We want to be a place that's comfortable for people to come to that has good food.”
“Just good food and good music,” adds his daughter, Josephine.
This week, the family is hosting a series of soft openings and a private event, after which point they will determine which day is best to open to the public during the week of Oct. 8.
Isis will offer dinner, late-night dining and a full bar in its initial week. Concerts and perhaps brunch will come later. The dinner menu features classic American fare, with an emphasis on seafood since both chefs, Mike Mahoney and John McGregor, have worked in kitchens along the Southeastern coast.
The Woodys recommend “The Hoppin' John”: yellow-eyed peas, red quinoa, smoked bacon and shrimp, or, for an entree, local rainbow trout with wilted chard, red quinoa and artichoke buerre blanc. The late-night menu will include short ribs and duck tacos. Appetizers will be priced under $10; entrees will mostly be less than $20.
The Woodys agree that they don't want to do too much talking for their creation. Instead, they center their efforts on one key term: “Quality,” says Josephine. “And then it will speak for itself.”
Isis will open 743 Haywood Road in West Asheville for dinner and late-night service during the week of Oct. 8. Dinner runs from 5 to 10 p.m., at which time late-night fare takes over until 1 a.m. For now, the restaurant will observe these hours seven days a week. The owners suggest visiting their Facebook page for more information about the opening. The venue has a website, isisasheville.com, but it's still in the works.