Small Bites

She's leaving on a jet plane

Amber Arthur, owner of Izzy's Coffee Den, is selling her well-known downtown coffee house. Fear not though, loyal Izzy's coffee drinkers: nothing should change, according to Arthur.

Arthur and two of her long-time employees are headed to Brooklyn to open a coffee shop that offers a taste of North Carolina to the Yanks. In lieu of bagels and cream cheese, the café will feature homemade biscuits with pimento cheese and jams imported from WNC. The coffee will be trucked in from some of Asheville's local roasters as well. "We're bringing a Southern theme to our coffee shop," says Arthur. "We're taking pride in our heritage."

Ross and Kristin Britton will be taking over downtown Asheville’s Izzy's in Arthur's stead. "They're big fans of Izzy's, and they have every intention of keeping Izzy's the way that it's been for six-and-a-half years,” she says.

So no changes?

"I'm sure since he's a carpenter, they will make Izzy's a little bit more comfortable — not frou-frou it up, but update some of the furniture and the counter space and what-not,” says Arthur. “All good upgrades that I never did. Anything that they do will be positive for Izzy's, I'm sure."

So no freaking out?

"No freaking out."

Arthur also says that the new owners are going to keep a tight relationship with Catie Conroy, the half-owner of the West Asheville Izzy's, to ensure that both coffee shops remain consistent. "You're going to be able to get the same latte at Izzy's West as you'll be able to get downtown," she says.

"I'm going to miss the hell out of everyone, and I'm super-sad," says Arthur, but she reports that she'll be back to visit often. "I still have two houses to take care of, and West Izzy's to take care of, so the frequent flier miles will be racking up for sure."

"This is overwhelming and exciting," she says, but she's ready for a change. "It gets really tiring running a really busy spot after three or four years," says Arthur. "Even though it's so enjoyable."

Arthur, Xpress remarks, doesn't look as though the stress has aged her a bit.

"It's all the smoking that I do. It's all that Wedge beer-drinking," she laughs. “Thank you to all the loyal followers of Izzy's,” Arthur adds. "And if you're ever in Brooklyn, NY, come see me at the Tiny Cup in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn."

Izzy's is located downtown at 74 N. Lexington Avenue, and in West Asheville at 373 Haywood Road. For more information, visit

Fire burn!

Just in time for cold and flu season, local kombucha makers, Buchi, have released Buchi Fire, a strong, pink concoction brewed with cayenne and fresh ginger for a spicy after-burn.

Since a few of us at Xpress were feeling the effects of the changing weather in our heads, throats and sinuses, we decided to pick up a growler of Fire from Greenlife/Whole Foods, hoping that it would burn whatever funk we had right out of us.

Fire Buchi definitely delivers a powerful kick. Some reported that their sinuses felt clearer than they had all day. Some reported that their sore throat was soothed.

Xpress A&E Editor Rebecca Sulock, @rsulock on Twitter, posted a tweet declaring that "this stuff is my jam."

I’m thoroughly addicted. Buchi Fire is of medicinal-level spiciness, yet well-balanced and of the quality we've come to expect from the local kombucha makers.

For more information about where to find Buchi, visit

Lexington gets more libations … and chilaquiles!

Boca's been slowly but surely coming together on Lexington Ave., right next to Mela. The restaurant is finally slated to open some time in mid-November.

Anoop Krishnan of Mela, along with partner Markus Procida, are opening the new eatery, which uses the courtyard once claimed by the now-defunct Vincent's Ear.

Krishnan describes Boca’s menu as American, with a healthy California Tex-Mex bent. “Lots of peppers, lots of free-range eggs, lots of pancakes — buckwheat pancakes, spelt pancakes, corn pancakes," he says. The task of menu execution will go to Johnson and Wales graduate Stewart Lyon, former chef of Curras Nuevo and finalist in the WNC Magazine Chefs’ Challenge.

The menu, says Krishnan, is inspired by his time spent living in the Mission District with his wife Cathy Cambron, where, he says, there was a large Hispanic population. "It's so part of California. When you go into a restaurant and order heuvos rancheros or chilaquiles, it's not Mexican — it's American food. Everybody orders it. It's like pizza — you don't consider that Italian."

Krishnan adds that Boca will offer a pricing structure appropriate to its Lexington Avenue location — in other words, he says, it will be affordable enough that working stiffs (like most of us who actually live in Asheville) can afford to eat as well. The restaurant will still feature lots of local meats and produce. "The price is not all that different," says Krishnan.

The interior of the restaurant, though unfinished at press time, displays muted yet warm earth-tones, dark wood, river rock on the front of the bar, an open kitchen and a glassed garage-style door opening to a patio bordered by a locally made water-feature. The patio will host music on warmer nights. It’s easy to imagine sipping some of the cocktails that bar manager Naomi Worth has developed in that outdoor space. Think Caipirinha, a slew of margaritas and some creative mojitos, including one with Thai basil, rum, honey, green tea and fresh lime juice.

"We want to do something new," says Krisnan. "We want to create a niche in some ways. We don't want take away from any other business around here, we want to offer something different. Hopefully we will do well."

The planned hours for Boca are from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. on weekdays, but on Thursdays through Saturdays, Boca will stay open until 3 a.m. to catch the late-night crowd.

Boca is located at 68 N. Lexington in downtown Asheville.

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