Have you ever sipped a cold one inside a structure that resembles a giant beer can? At the Salvage Station, which opened June 1, a brightly painted Pabst Blue Ribbon can that doubles as a food-and-drink venue is one focal point among several free-standing social spots on the sprawling property along the French Broad River.
Near the beer can building, a large, hangar-like building houses an indoor music stage and bar. The outdoor area beckons with lawn games, picnic tables, a garden that provides many ingredients to the kitchen and several interesting objets d’art.
The space originally served as a salvage yard for nearly 100 years, but it’s been transformed into a riverside oasis where people come to play, drink, eat and listen to music while enjoying the whisper of the river’s rhythmic flow.
“Many of our guests remember the property how it used to be, and we didn’t want to lose any of that history when development for this project began,” says Gwendolyn Hageman, the Salvage Station’s kitchen co-manager. “Many of the fixtures, walls, and artwork that you see around the property were directly salvaged and re-purposed from the original property.”
The venue is designed to host traditional and nontraditional events ranging from music concerts and food festivals to wedding receptions and flea markets (Asheville Flea for Y’all is held here the last Sunday of each month). There is even an events coordinator who handles planning for weddings and parties. Future plans include bringing in national music acts.
Now, what about the food and drink? Three of the co-owners, Danny McClinton, Jimi Rentz and Patrick Huss, who also own Barley’s Taproom, have a long track record in the local culinary scene, ensuring that edibles and libations share the spotlight with events at this venue.
Xpress recently spoke with kitchen co-managers Hageman and Joshua Heald about the food and drinks programs at the Salvage Station.
Mountain Xpress: What’s your culinary background?
Hageman: I grew up in the restaurant industry learning creative skills and developing a palate early on from my father, a chef. I’ve worked in the Asheville culinary industry since 2012.
Heald: I’ve been in the business for nearly 20 years and most recently served as the kitchen manager at Barley’s Taproom. I also run a catering business with my wife, Amy.
What was the inspiration for the Salvage Station’s menu?
Hageman: Our current environment and redevelopment led to many of our kitchen’s food choices. The wide open space and outdoor possibilities lent to ideas of creating a menu centered on Asheville street food with an Appalachian flair.
Do you serve a lot of food? What are your most popular items?
Heald: We have a variety of food options such as nachos, tacos and sliders to large plates featuring smoked meats and fresh-made sides. Some of the local favorites so far include the blackened mahi tacos, smoked jerk chicken plate with Southern sides and Cuban sliders. We also make a somewhat addictive house-made cheese sauce that tastes good on just about anything. I’d say we do a pretty good job of feeding the masses at high-volume events, too.
Do you have a signature cocktail or something else you’re getting known for?
Hageman: Right now, the bartenders tell me our Down by the River cocktail is the bestseller. It features local distillery Troy & Son’s moonshine, muddled strawberries, ginger and Bold Rock hard apple cider.
The Salvage Station is at 468 Riverside Drive. To view the menu and for a schedule of upcoming events, visit salvagestation.com.