Details were released this week about two restaurants that will be a part of the Arras, the mixed-use building project planned for the former BB&T building, which borders Pack Square in downtown Asheville. In addition to a 128-room boutique hotel, 54 condominiums and retail space, The Arras will include two independent restaurants to be designed and operated by local restaurateurs Peter and Martha Pollay.
The project’s developers, McKibbon Hospitality hotel company and Tower Associates chairman Glenn W. Wilcox Sr., will partner with the Pollays on planning the restaurants, which should open with the launch of the hotel in 2018. The husband-and-wife team has owned and operated Posana on Pack Square for seven years. Peter, who serves as Posana’s executive chef, served two terms as president of the Asheville Independent Restaurants association and helped Asheville become the Green Restaurant Association’s first certified Greenest Dining Destination in the country in 2012.
Posana offers an entirely gluten-free menu, sourcing ingredients from about 65 local food businesses and farmers, as well as from the restaurant’s urban garden plot in West Asheville. The planned restaurants in The Arras promise to have an emphasis on local, seasonal and sustainable food as well.
The Mandara Hospitality Group, a new hospitality division launched by the Pollays as part of their business expansion, will manage the two hotel eateries. Peter says the restaurant in the northeast corner of the building will provide a fine-dining experience that blends global food cultures. “Martha and I love to travel, and I always take inspiration from different cuisines,” Peter says. “Mediterranean cuisine will be our focus, but you may see the influence from our time in Asia in some dishes.”
That restaurant will feature an open kitchen and will serve large, sharable dishes such as fish plates and pasta to create a sense of community among diners. It will also offer an outdoor dining area with access to Pack Square. Details on the second restaurant are still sketchy, but Peter says it will have more of a casual, bar atmosphere. Neither of the restaurants will be entirely gluten-free like Posana, but Peter assures that they will feature gluten-free menu options.
The Pollays are also collaborating on another upcoming McKibbon project — the AC Hotel Asheville Downtown, a division of Marriott, which will open in late 2016 at the corner of Biltmore Avenue and College Street. The ninth floor of the hotel will have a rooftop restaurant and bar called Capella on 9, where the Pollays will train all food and beverage staff and serve as consultants for menus and catering.
Capella on 9 will offer cocktails, wine and beer, European-style tapas and other small plate menu items. The initiative marks the first time that an AC Hotel will consult with local restaurant owners, which McKibbon hospitality chairman John McKibbon says falls into his mission of incorporating Asheville’s surrounding local culture into the new hotels. “We plan to continue to keep the community at the center of everything we do,” he says.
As an example of this commitment, McKibbon Hospitality and 7 Ton Design, the graphic designer for the project, will donate $6,000 to Mountain Housing Opportunities. The nonprofit organization provides affordable housing for low- to moderate-income households in Asheville and surrounding counties.
Peter Pollay will be executive chef of the restaurants at Arras, and Martha will serve as creative director. “The old BB&T building is such an iconic space in downtown Asheville, and we are eager to bring these new restaurants to both locals and visitors alike,” Peter says. “I am confident that the menus will showcase the outstanding foods that are available in Western North Carolina.”