Patton Public House brings European comfort food to West Asheville

PUBS REDUX: Patton Public House serves traditional pub fare, with a focus on the cuisine of Germany and Eastern Europe. “We're actually trying to bring back what a public house used to be,” says owner Gudrun Casper-Leinenkugel. Photo by Cindy Kunst

“Aller Anfang ist schwer.” (All beginnings are hard.) — German proverb

When Gudrun Casper-Leinenkugel and her group of managing partners began planning the Patton Public House in July 2013, they had no inkling of the many twists and detours the road to opening would take. Their chosen location, the building that for decades housed the Barbecue Inn on Patton Avenue, needed work. Many of the 60-year-old structure’s main operating systems required repairs or complete overhaul to bring them up to code.

It took six months just to get the first electrical permit, but, eventually, just shy of the three-year anniversary of the project’s inception, Patton Public House quietly launched in June. And finally, after weathering a mid-July staffing crisis caused by problems with a payroll company, the restaurant celebrated its grand opening on July 23.

Casper-Leinenkugel is no stranger to hard work. “I’ve been working since I was 13,” she says, but she wasn’t mowing lawns, delivering papers or baby-sitting. “I owned a laundromat. I had to learn how to run the business and fix the machines. It was a good learning experience.” Since then, she has opened six restaurants and bars across the country.

Casper-Leinenkugel, whose family operates Wisconsin’s Leinenkugel Brewing Co., grew up splitting her time between living in Germany and on the northern border of Wisconsin and Minnesota. The idea for Patton Public House was inspired by the comfort food and beer supplied by the European public houses she grew up with. “We’re actually trying to bring back what a public house used to be,” says Leinenkugel.

“In the early 1930s and ’40s, England took over the public house name and just called it the pub,” she explains. “It became synonymous with these little hole-in-the-wall bars. But public houses used to be what the name insinuated — a public house. It’s a place for friends, family and neighbors to come and spend the day. They would spend all day socializing, sitting outside playing horseshoes or other games.”

With this model in mind, Casper-Leinenkugel is setting up the space’s back patio with cornhole, a giant chess board, giant Jenga and an area for live music. “[It’s] just a place where you can come have a good meal, a few drinks, bring the kids or the dog and really relax. We’re not interested in a turn-and-burn experience,” she says.

The restaurant offers a fairly diverse sampling of European pub food with plenty of German favorites. But patrons unfamiliar with German fare shouldn’t let the umlauts on the menu hold them back.

“People love the pierogies,” says Casper-Leinenkugel. “And the fish and chips are just like you would find in Europe. We have had several folks who were stationed in Europe visit and tell us it’s just like they remember it.”

She also recommends the shepherd’s pie and sauerbraten (a traditional German pot roast that’s marinated for 10 days), and she says the schwein-käse, a sausage-cheese dip, is a popular appetizer to share.

And then there are the Reuben fritters, which feature all the ingredients of a Reuben — the sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and finely chopped corned beef — rolled up in bread crumbs, battered and deep-fried into a fritter. “I like them better than the actual sandwich,” says Casper-Leinenkugel. “It’s like the best part of a Reuben in every bite.”

Vegetarian options are available, too, such as an eggplant-based schnitzel.

And what would a public house be without beer? The Patton Public House currently offers 89 beers — 23 on tap, with 17 at the main bar and six at the back bar, plus more than 70 varieties in bottles. The plan is to eventually offer a total of 120 types of beer.

The reason for the extensive beer selection is a European public house tradition called Drink the Wall. “It’s a typical tradition throughout the public houses of Germany, Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands,” explains Casper-Leinenkugel.

Customers who participate in Drink the Wall receive one of 100 numbered 20-ounce mugs and a matching key chain. When the customer presents the key chain, the mug is retrieved and filled with the next beer in the progression, with the goal of eventually sampling everything in stock. The mug-holder must drink at least two-thirds of each beer ordered for it to apply to the wall tally.

On top of getting 4 ounces more than the typical 16-ounce pour, Drink the Wall participants have their names listed on the Patton Public House website and on a plaque at the bar. “We have a whole list of imports that most people would never ever try without having the opportunity through a club like this,” Casper-Leinenkugel points out.

Bands and activities are scheduled every weekend, and guests are encouraged to bring their furry friends — as long as they are on a leash and well-behaved — to enjoy the large back patio area. “We even have a doggy potty, an area we fenced off in the back for people to walk their dogs if they’re staying for a while and fill up their water bowl,” she says. “We tried to think of everything.”



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16 thoughts on “Patton Public House brings European comfort food to West Asheville

  1. Fishbone

    LMFAO… A fluff piece on this place a mere 2 weeks after employees of Patton Public House were screwed out of their pay (with some being fired for speaking out). Shame on this PR for hire rag of a news outlet!

    • Thanks for sharing your thought on this. I would like to respond by saying that Mountain Xpress covers many opening restaurants around town to introduce them, typically this done in a favorable light since they are NEW. The interview and article were submitted just 24 hours before the incident involving the payroll company was made public. After the confrontation, all of the employees were paid that same day, the previous payroll company was fired and a new payroll company was hired. I verified all of this and the article was adjusted to make mention of the incident. According to the report on WLOS one of the servers received her check but said she was quitting anyway. I was at this restaurant last night for dinner and the same server, Maci Holt, waited on my table and was very much still employed there. I did my research I suggest you do yours.

  2. boatrocker

    I’ve never eaten there.

    I am curious as to how well a public house goes over on Patton Ave, aka the second skankiest road to drive in Asheville.
    First place goes to Hendersonville Hwy, as both are not exactly inviting as chain stores and the micro mall mentality rules.
    Third place goes to anywhere near the Asheville Mall. Chik Fil A and asphalt jungles, gross.

    Location, location location I’ve been told.

    • MMH

      so which restaurants have a suitable location for your requirements ?

    • Courtney

      So, i guess all new restaurants should open up on the streets that are already nice, have high rents, and tons of other great things to do! That’s how to really make a city awesome! Ignore the places that need interesting things to do and all flock to the same spot! You’re the smartest!

  3. boatrocker

    Wow, let’s put those claws away, people. I know it’s illegal to say anything negative at all about the location of a local restaurant, but if there is a new place I might actually go to eat out, it might be this one.

    I think I could enjoy the food even though I have to navigate the 10th circle of Hell for traffic.

  4. Andrew

    I remember when they were first talking about opening this place I read that they were going to be trying to do 24 hours. Is this still in the plans or is that idea scrapped? I was excited about that prospect because we really don’t have hardly any places that are open late night/ early morning. To be fair as well, it is right at the end of Haywood road very close to the Altamony and Odditrium which is easily still walkable (maybe we just need a better cross walk there). Another note on the location shaming…. Bonfire BBQ is halfway down Patton in a crappy little strip and it’s killing it! I also like to give places the benefit of the doubt when they’re new because there’s always a lot of kinks to work out.

    • boatrocker

      “Location shaming?” Really?
      The Internet is so delicate like a flower, eh?
      I don’t live within walking distance, so I suppose I’m just an awful person for pointing that out.

      “Killing it?” You’ve looked at the sales receipts or are you judging by the amount of cars in the parking lot?
      Is ‘killing it’ better than ‘epic’?

      If posters really think I need to go there to eat, for god’s sake just say so instead of sounding like a facebook post.
      Trust me, it’s on the list.

      • prideworks

        Sounds like somebody has an axe to grind….sour grapes maybe? Or a relative of someone who is no longer working there? I’m in Asheboro but was born and raised in the mountains. I can promise you on the next trip home I will be stopping by this eatery.

        • boatrocker

          No, no and no.
          And I’ll be eating there before your next trip home.

  5. dsbxxxx

    I admire entrepreneurs who are willing to invest in neighborhoods and out-of-the-way business locations. Yeah, it might be more of a risk than renting a space in the Grove Arcade, but I see Patton Avenue as a location with a lot of opportunities for start-ups and innovation. And these business owners know that they need to work hard(er) to attract and keep customers. So their food and service might just be wonderful! If you need an example, think about the Admiral and the strip of great places developing in West Asheville.
    Good luck!

  6. JD Hackhowsar

    The impression the website gives differs to the former Barbara Inn patron a lot. 80% same look, mildew lemon in the drink, German mini 12oz wheat beer bottle, no proper authentic drinking glass.
    Sauer beaten taste a1, red cabbage b+, Reubens sandwich d+ South German hot potato salad served cold with sour vinegar sprinkle fake. Beyond f-.
    My mountain wife cooking combination with my French and German kitchen experience can outlook them any time. Bratkartoffel, Frikadellen and Spanish Frick of are just a few Western German coal mine country international community dishes.
    PPH aims to be a German Wirtshaus.
    Long way to go under pump and dump slum lord style management methods. Quick books has payroll included. Payroll company story may be valid for 200 plus staff.
    Publish the other 6 previous opening and sucess stories the current owner brags about.
    Stony Knob in me the most bang for my buck.

    • Lulz

      I don’t understand why they need a payroll company when an accountant could do the same thing. Seems overly complicated to me.

      • boatrocker

        Yes, because taxes and money are more important to you than trying a new place to eat.
        Ayn Rand Bless you, fair poster.

        You can’t eat money, and you can’t take it with you, but all I’m complaining about is Patton Ave. as a crappy place to navigate in a car.

  7. Mike pakonis

    My wife and I had dinner there Friday night and the food was fantastic, it was like being back in Lithuania. Can’t eat downtown any longer too many tourists too long of a wait too expensive.

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