Local company Foothills Meats just announced plans to launch a unique “butcher bar” in West Asheville. The yet-to-be-named establishment is equal parts old-school butcher shop, meat-centric restaurant and friendly neighborhood bar. The hybrid, slated for an early September opening, is taking over the 697 Haywood Road location that previously housed Bandidos Latin Kitchen.
The butcher shop portion of the business “will feature a ‘browse and buy’ butcher counter just inside the entrance with fresh meat staples such as ground beef, pork chops and steaks as well as rotating items from the Foothills house-made deli line: bacon, hot dogs, sliced deli meats and more,” according to a press release. Additionally, “the location will serve as a pick-up point for the popular Meat Share CSA program and special orders from the Black Mountain butcher shop.”
“The retail selling of meat is one part of the business that I really love,” says Foothills owner Casey McKissick. “That sound of the paper tearing and that butcher wrap and handing someone a nice little package that they’re excited to go home and cook” is wonderful.
“When people are picking up their weeks’ groceries, they can come by and get a pound of bacon and some breakfast sausages and ground beef for their family,” says McKissick, who hopes that people “meld that routine into their grocery shopping plans and think of us as the neighborhood butcher shop.” He adds that those who work in the shop will be able to give cooking tips.
The restaurant will serve burgers, hot dogs, tallow fries, features from the smokehouse and daily specials, says a press release. “The menu for the butcher bar concept speaks to the whole animal philosophy of our butcher shop,” says McKissick.
The plan is for 70 percent of offerings to be crowd pleasers, such as Cuban sandwiches. The rest will be “things that are very unique and creative, and things that are changed up on a daily and weekly basis,” says McKissick. “It’s actually kind of a metaphor, if you will, for the whole animal itself. There’s a large part of it that everybody will enjoy and a smaller percentage of things that might [give people] an adventurous experience.”
Vegetarians and vegans can also expect dishes featuring seasonal, local produce. “We’re able to accommodate all diets and we’ll be able to show that off in this new space,” says McKissick. “It should fit in well in West Asheville.”
Drinks at the bar will include draft beer and cans as well as simple cocktails. “All of our food will pair really well with beer and cocktails,” says McKissick.
As far as the construction and design of the space, “Think subway tile and butcher block,” says McKissick. “Also, something that should be fun … there’s demolition going on right now at a North Canton, Ohio bowling alley, so we purchased an entire bowling lane.” French Broad Builders will be creating two bars and all of the dining room tables from materials salvaged from that bowling lane.
To run the restaurant, McKissick has hired award-winning chef Owen Lane, who is in the midst of wrapping up his current position as Sous Chef at Gray & Dudley in Nashville, Tenn. Lane has been a chef for more than 20 years. He’s well known for his work with his award-winning Richmond area based restaurants Magpie and Vagabond, and has been described as a “meatetarian” and “Richmond’s Sausage King.”
“We really just hit it off on a personal level and a philosophical level about what we want to do with the food. He’s passionate about meat and good sourcing, was ready for a change and wanted a place in Asheville,” says McKissick. “Anytime I can employ people who’ve been [business] owners, I always know they’re going to look at things in a different way than somebody who’s just an employee. Former owners definitely make decisions differently.”
Between now and the opening of the butcher bar, “We’ll have our hotdog cart out in West Asheville over the next couple of months helping to drum up enthusiasm, so people should look for that,” says McKissick. And the Foothills Food Truck remains a staple at Hi Wire’s Big Top Production Facility and Taproom at 2 Huntsman Place.