Small bites: Asheville Coffee Expo is set to grow

PERKING IT UP: Celebrating Asheville's distinct coffee culture, the Asheville Coffee Expo, to be held in the River Arts District Saturday, Sept. 29, will grow in coming years, its new owner says. Photo by Dawn Roe

The new owner of the Asheville Coffee Expo has big plans for its future. But Abby Dickinson isn’t changing a thing for this year’s event, to be held Saturday, Sept. 29, in the River Arts District. Attendees can expect the same all-things-coffee atmosphere that they experienced during the first two expos, she says.

Dickinson, a craft beer marketing executive who helped create the Asheville Beer Expo for the Asheville Brewers Alliance a couple of years ago, bought the coffee expo from founders Stu Helm, a local food writer, and Angie Rainey, owner and coffee curator at Asheville’s Coffee Crate.

“Stu and Angie are both superpassionate about the coffee scene here” and made the expo “a great success,” Dickinson says. She views taking it over as “an opportunity to take a well-loved event and grow it to the point that makes Asheville a destination for coffee lovers.”

The free event is a celebration of not only coffee but also of coffee shops, bakeries, cafés and tea. The expo, which happens on International Coffee Day, features nearly three dozen mostly local roasting companies and providers of goodies.

Dickinson, who has assembled for the event a board of advisors who work in the local coffee industry, has worked in operations and marketing at or with Wicked Weed Brewing, Hi-Wire Brewing and Nantahala Brewing Co. She’s been in Asheville 14 years — long enough to see its craft coffee industry grow.

“There’s some work to be done to make coffee known at the level that craft beer here is,” she says. She believes the expo can help. “There are so many places in Asheville that are really raising the awareness of coffee and how important it is to our lives. It’s time to showcase what people are doing here,” she says.

The third annual Asheville Coffee Expo runs 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, on Ralph Street in the River Arts District. The event is free. For more, visit

Early Girl Eatery goes west

Early Girl Eatery, the successful Wall Street restaurant that recently changed hands, is opening a new outpost in West Asheville, in the space that has been occupied by King Daddy’s Chicken & Waffle. King Daddy’s closed on Thursday, Sept. 20, and opening day for the new Early Girl is planned for Wednesday, Sept. 26. Early Girl owners Jesson and Cristina Gil, who bought Early Girl Eatery from founders Julie and John Stehling in March, bought King Daddy’s, which the Stehlings also owned, in mid-September. The new Early Girl on Haywood Road will feature the same Southern-inspired menu as the downtown restaurant. The Gils, who are originally from Texas, also own The Blackbird restaurant at 47 Biltmore Ave.

Early Girl Eatery, 444 Haywood Road, is open 8-11 a.m. through Tuesday, Oct. 2. The menu after then will include breakfast, lunch and dinner, with hours yet to be determined.

Slow Food Asheville Happy Hour

On Thursday, Sept. 27, Slow Food Asheville will host its latest happy hour event at Noble Cider. The periodic events pair a local chef, brewer, baker or cidermaker with a local farmer to talk about how they use the Slow Food method to create their products. Light appetizers will be served during the talk.

Slow Food Asheville Happy Hour runs 5:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, at Noble Cider, 356 New Leicester Highway. There’s no cost to attend, and snacks are free.

Barbecue dinner for campers

A dinner catered by Hubba Hubba Smokehouse is one highlight of the 11th annual Camp For All Barbeque Ball on Sunday, Sept. 30, at Camp Ton-a-Wandah in Hendersonville. Adult beverages, archery, crafts, paddling/canoeing, live music and more are included in the ticket price. The event benefits Camplify, a Hendersonville-based nonprofit organization that uses camp-based and experiential learning programs to teach “kids-in-need” the life skills they need to succeed. Camplify helps more than 200 children each year.

Camp For All Barbeque Ball will be 2:30-7:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30, at Camp Ton-a-Wandah, 300 W. Ton-a-Wandah Road, Hendersonville. Tickets are $75 per person, $100 per couple, $125 per family of four ($25 each additional member) and are available at the Henderson County Chamber of Commerce. For more, visit

Wildcrafting made tasty

Villagers, an urban homestead supply store in West Asheville, is putting on a workshop Wednesday, Oct. 3, that will teach how to put up wild foods that are good and good for you. Participants will taste medicinal mountain plants that are meant to keep the body strong and vital through fall and winter. Herbal vinegars, honeys, salts and other edibles containing foraged tonic herbs will be sampled. Everyone will leave with an herbal tonic creation. The workshop will be led by Jamie Sparks, founder and director of Herban Farmacy, a locally sourced, wildcrafted herbal apothecary.

Preserving Wild Food for Everyday Nourishment will be 6:30-9 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, at Villagers, 278 Haywood Road. The cost is $35-$60. Register at

The Continental Lounge is open

He’s back. Vijay Shastri, former owner of Mr. Frog’s Soul & Creole Kitchen and a longtime fixture on Asheville’s restaurant scene, has finally opened his long-awaited venture, The Continental Lounge. Shastri, whose notable past projects in Asheville include Bombay Café and Flying Frog Café, opened his new endeavor Aug. 31 in the former home of Local Provisions downtown. The Continental Lounge offers comfort foods like biscuits for breakfast and meatloaf for supper, as well as salads and healthier fare. The restaurant was initially projected to open in late spring. Its hours have changed since Aug. 31, but lunch hours will resume soon, Shastri says.

The Continental Lounge is at 77 Biltmore Ave. Hours are 5-9:30 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, 5-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more, visit


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About Paul Clark
Based in Asheville, NC, Paul Clark has been writing for newspapers, magazines and websites for more than 40 years. He is an award-winning journalist, writer and photographer. Some of his photography can be seen at Google his name to find stories and photos that have appeared in magazines and newspapers throughout the Southeast.

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