Small Bites

Pies In Disguise: When Ben Herring and Eliza Sydney relocated to Asheville from the Virgin Islands, they presumed they'd find more pie.

Photo by Jonathan Welch

"People probably want a lot more pie than they're getting around here," says Herring. "My partner's an unbelievable pie baker, so we started throwing around the idea of a pie business."

Herring and Sydney last month officially launched Pies in Disguise, a pie-on-demand service with a subscription component. Customers can order any type of pie for $20 and have it delivered within two days, or ante up $18 for membership in a CSP (that's local-food lingo for "Community Sustainable Pie-baking"). CSP'ers, who meet Sydney at a designated pickup point, receive one pie a month.

"Instead of taking out a giant loan and having to sell a certain number of pies, we're trying to start really small," Herring explains.

Pies in Disguise's standard pie repertoire includes — among two dozen or so varieties — apple-cheddar, peach-lemon-verbena, bumbleberry, rhubarb, chocolate-stout and key-lime. Sydney's signature pie is a Nutella-ganache and strawberry-jam concoction baked in a pretzel crust; "It satisfies the sweet and salty cravings," raves Herring, who leaves the baking to Sydney.

But the folks behind Pies in Disguise are proudest of their seasonal offerings, featuring just-plucked fruit from Western North Carolina farms. Pies in Disguise is gearing up for a busy Thanksgiving season, with hopes of putting more local pies on local tables.

"Our main focus is trying to use fruits in season and support local farmers," Herring says. "We believe that's the way people around Asheville eat."

To learn more about Pies in Disguise, visit

Straightaway Cafe: The "middle of nowhere," as Ray Botham describes it, wouldn't strike most entrepreneurs as the ideal venue for a new restaurant, but Botham says his experience in Alaska persuaded him out-of-the-way eateries could thrive.

"The idea came from Alaskan roadhouses," explains Botham, owner of StraightAway Café on Highway 9, about five miles past Black Mountain. "We decided to roll the dice and try it here. It's a nice destination spot."

Botham is now adding a pub to the full-service restaurant, which opened in April.

"The initial design was a little juke joint somewhere, but I believe in evolving," says Botham, who four years ago purchased the former residence that now houses the café. "We weren't really sure where we were going."

StraightAway now serves lunch and dinner, offering a lengthy menu of soups, sandwiches and — thanks to the restaurant's Hungarian-born head chef — goulash, paprikash and Budapest pork roasts.

"Our Hungarian food has been hugely popular," Botham says. "We cover a lot of bases."

StraightAway Café, 1722 N.C. Highway 9, is open Tues., 11 a.m.-4 p.m., and Wed.-Sun., 11 a.m.-10 p.m. To learn more, call 669-8956. 

West Asheville Tailgate Market: West Asheville's Tailgate Market is moving — both temporally and spatially. The tailgate market, long held on Wednesday afternoons in the parking lot alongside West End Bakery, will now convene between Grace Baptist Church and Sun Trust Bank on Haywood Road on Tuesdays from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. The market season has also been extended through November, market manager Jim Gordon reports.


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