The Asheville Food Park is now open on Amboy Road, joining an explosion of recreational companies, bars, restaurants and concert venues popping up along the French Broad River this year.
The park serves as a base station for a regular rotation of local food trucks, art vendors and farmers selling seasonal produce. It also houses two anchor businesses: Edna’s at the River, which is the second location of Merrimon Avenue’s Edna’s of Asheville coffee shop, plus the rebirth of a piece of Asheville history, the Cascade Lounge.
“This space has been designed to accommodate a variety of groups all day long.” says Asheville Food Park owner and developer Dean Pistor, an Asheville native who knows the long and sometimes checkered history of the property.
The bar’s windowless brick building was built in 1948 as the Amboy Inn and later became the original Cascade Lounge, which was a members-only club popular during the heyday of the New Asheville Speedway.
Becky Harrin and her granddaughter, Brooke Harrin, were there on a recent afternoon checking out the new space. A lifelong resident of the neighborhood, Becky remembers the building in its previous life. “My family went to the dances they would have back in the ’70s,” she says. “Of course we weren’t allowed in there because we were just kids.”
After the last big flood hit the area in 2005, however, the old building on the corner was abandoned, defaced and used for warehouse space. Pistor says he wanted to maintain the feel of the old space and used material discovered in the buildings to shape the new decor.
In this latest incarnation of the Cascade Lounge, the floor, seats and bar top are shiny new, and the walls sport a Hemingway-inspired mural by Dustin Spagnola. But underneath is the original brick bar from 1948, and the layout is still the same.
Outside, the building sparkles in the sun with a fresh coat of turquoise paint. Out front, piles of pumpkins and decorative gourds at Whispersholler Farms’ market stand announce the season. Original murals by Rhea Ormond showcase a mermaid, the mascot of the original Cascade Lounge, on the side of the building that faces the food truck park.
Edna’s at the River is situated in the adjacent building, offering coffee, food and canine-inspired art. Edna’s features a sliding barn door that opens into a common area with relaxed indoor and outdoor seating, including a wood stove for the colder months.
Space has also been allotted on the property for pop-up vendors and mobile boutiques. Food trucks are already there operating on a regular schedule of three shifts per day with three hook-up sites available. The park includes a grassy seating area as well as café tables, while Mead Creek meanders from out of the nearby woods at the end of State Street.
A bonus entertainment feature of the park is the resident flock of chickens. The birds roams the property when not in their coop. “I’m a chicken guy,” says Pistor. “I’ve always had them so it made sense to have them here too. They only lay about nine eggs a day though, so they are more like pets right now, but they add to the market feel.”
Asheville Food Park is at 219 Amboy Road on the corner of State Street. Hours are 7 a.m.-11 p.m. daily. Food trucks and the Whispersholler Farms market stand are already operating. Edna’s at the River is scheduled to open Wednesday, Oct. 28. Hours will be 7 a.m.-7 p.m. daily. The Cascade Lounge will open Friday, Oct. 30. Its hours will be noon-2 a.m. daily. For details on food truck schedules and events, visit the park’s website. Family-friendly, leashed pets are welcome.