Longtime downtown favorite Laurey’s Café is closing effective immediately. The decision comes one year after its original owner, community activist Laurey Masterton, passed away following a decadeslong battle with cancer.
“When Laurey Masterton opened her restaurant and catering company storefront, Laurey’s, in 1990, most of Asheville was still degenerate,” wrote longtime Laurey’s patron and Xpress writer Jonathan Ammons in a story from October 2014. “Barley’s wouldn’t start slinging pizzas until four years later, but Laurey’s sandwich shop paved the way for an entire section of Biltmore Avenue to be revitalized.
Adam and Emily Thome, who took over Laurey’s after Masteron’s death, confirmed the closing of the 67 Biltmore Ave. storefront in the following statement:
This past year has been very difficult for all of us. We worked hard to attempt a transition of ownership following Laurey’s death, but couldn’t find a way to put the business in a position to succeed moving forward. While Heather and Lucinda loved their sister very much, this business was not their passion. The family has now made the very difficult decision to close Laurey’s. We understand their decision and know it was a hard one.
Those of us who have worked at Laurey’s all these years are family. We care about what we do and have loved being part of the meaningful Laurey’s community in this beautiful city. Our partnerships with local businesses and our loyal customers mean a great deal to all of us.
Some folks in the community have come forward to assist us in continuing Laurey’s legacy of great food and a business that honors its staff, its guests and its purveyors. We are currently working hard to make arrangements for a new business at 67 Biltmore that embodies the elements that made Laurey’s an Asheville favorite – delicious, handmade seasonal comfort food and friendly counter service in an amazing sunlit space. Many things must still fall into place, but we are working hard to open in early spring, Laurey’s favorite season. While the business will no longer be called “Laurey’s” we are moving forward with her in our hearts and hope that when we reopen 67 Biltmore you will still find her spirit there.
– Adam & Emily Thome
(and the rest of the crew)
Coincidentally, the YWCA of Asheville will complete the installation of its Laurey Masterton Memorial Garden on Friday, March 27, when 15 volunteers from Duke Energy will be on hand to build the raised beds, picnic table and bench that will make up the children’s garden. Masterton worked closely with the YWCA for 17 years, serving on its board from 1997 to 2003. The memorial garden was designed by The Asheville Design Center last summer.
Beth Maczka, executive director of the YWCA spoke to Xpress last August about how the garden would serve to honor Masterton’s memory. “She was really committed to our mission of eliminating racism, empowering women and creating a Beloved Community — a place where everyone is welcome,” Maczka said. “She cared about people who were frequently forgotten.”