Mr. Frog's Soul and Creole Kitchen is going away, but owners Vijay Shastri and Holly McFarling will likely be back with a new restaurant. The last dinner at Mr. Frog’s will take place on New Year’s Eve.
The South Market Street eatery is closing up to make way for the Eagle Market Place mixed-use development that will include affordable housing and retail space. Mountain Housing Opportunities and Eagle Market Streets Development will carry out the project.
Shastri says he knew when he opened Mr. Frog's in May that he would have to close for the construction. “This project was set to happen regardless,” he says. “We were thinking we were going to have a little bit more time, but, regardless, we knew it was coming.”
Before Mr. Frog's, Shastri owned The Flying Frog Café downtown from 1996 until 2011 (his family has headed Asheville favorites, such as The Windmill, now closed, since the early ‘80s). With that long-term commitment to Asheville's hospitality industry, it's hard to imagine he'll be without a restaurant long. Shastri is already brainstorming ideas for his next venture. “I am still very much planning on being able to come back and do something a little bit more in the realm that I do,” he says.
That realm definitely involves wine, he adds. He's certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers and maintains an extensive personal wine collection. “Wine is just like anything else: You stop doing it, you start losing too much too quickly,” he says. “That's why I'm going to Highlands, the wine stuff and to get back into dining.”
Shastri has taken a job at Paoletti's in Highlands, a mountaintop resort town about 75 miles southwest of Asheville. He hopes to organize an Asheville-to-Highlands trip in early 2013 so his customers and friends can check out his new job.
He has high hopes for the neighborhood he will leave behind. He wants to see the intersection of Eagle and South Market streets become a vibrant cultural center. “My hopes for this neighborhood are that this area becomes our little ethnic center, loaded full of international businesses and things of that sort.” He imagines European grocery stores, tiendas and soul food restaurants filling the storefronts when the renovations subside.