Small bites: Asheville Drag Brunch launches

BEAUTY AND THE BRUNCH: The inaugural Asheville Drag Brunch raised $678 for BeLoved Asheville. The next event takes place Sunday, April 14, and will benefit the Beer City Sisters. Pictured is Divine: The Bearded Lady. Photo by Jessielea Photography

“Drag queens pretty much run on hairspray and glitter,” says Gordon Hensley, producer of Asheville Drag Brunch. But they also need to eat. Hence Hensley’s production debuted earlier this month at Bebettes Beignets & Coffee. The sold-out show doubled as a fundraiser for BeLoved Asheville, a local organization that seeks to end homelessness, poverty and racism through community projects and grassroots advocacy.

Hensley intends to host Asheville Drag Brunch monthly, with the next performance slated for Sunday, April 14, at Claddagh Restaurant & Pub. The 12:30 p.m. show will benefit the Beer City Sisters, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting and celebrating diversity and social awareness through education, outreach and philanthropy. Menu items were unavailable at press time.

“This is kind of a wild card,” says Hensley, who notes that most traditional drag performances take place at evening venues. “I am hoping that people will discover that drag queens are loads of fun, clearly not trying to portray or read as biological women. It’s a flashy theatrical type of performance that is completely designed for entertainment.”

The April 14 production will feature Margarita Del Encanto, Calcutta, Alexis Black and Divine: The Bearded Lady. The show’s lineup, like its location, will regularly change. “Each drag brunch will have its unique personality as we move around the city performing with different performers at different locations raising funds for different nonprofits,” Hensley says.

The next Drag Queen Brunch begins at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, April 14, at Claddagh Restaurant & Pub, 4 College St. Tickets are $20 and include brunch. All profits benefit the Beer City Sisters. To purchase, visit

Dessert and revolution

The BLOCK Off Biltmore will serve vegan desserts Thursday, March 21, along with a screening of a short film about the Rojava Revolution — a feminist, pluralist and ecological revolution taking place in northern Syria. A presentation and discussion will follow the viewing. The fundraiser will benefit Western North Carolina residents who plan to travel to the region to witness the ongoing transformation.

The benefit runs 6-8 p.m. Thursday, March 21, at The BLOCK Off Biltmore, 39 S. Market St. Donations are on a sliding scale of $10-$20. For more, visit

Oysters and beer at Ginger’s Revenge

Ginger’s Revenge Craft Brewery & Tasting Room will host a 12-course oyster and ginger-beer dinner Tuesday, March 26, featuring a menu by chef Todd Ritter of Princess Anne Hotel. Highlights include oyster ceviche, raw oyster-infused beef tartare and raw oyster with a cucumber honeydew granita.

Dinner runs 7-9 p.m. Tuesday, March 26, at Ginger’s Revenge, 829 Riverside Drive, Suite 100. Tickets are $65 and can be reserved by calling 423-788-4702. Ticket sales end Friday, March 22. For more, visit

Tea tasting at Reems Creek Nursery

Miles Cramer of Dobra Tea will lead a tea tasting at Reems Creek Nursery on Saturday, March 23. Six teas will be sampled, showcasing a range of flavors. The event will also include a presentation on the history of tea accompanied by photographs from Dobra Tea’s global sourcing trips.

The tasting runs 10 a.m.-noon Saturday, March 23, at Reems Creek Nursery, 76 Monticello Road, Weaverville. Tickets are $12. To purchase, visit

Familia Festa

Burial Beer Co. will host a family-style dinner on Sunday, March 24, prepared by chef Brian Canipelli of Cucina 24 and chef Matt Kelly of Durham restaurant Matteo. Menu options were not available at press time, but according to a press release, the dinner is inspired by fermented liquids and Spain’s Basque Country.

Familia Festa runs 6-9 p.m. Sunday, March 24, at Burial Beer Co., 40 Collier Ave. Tickets are $60, not including tax or gratuity. Seating is limited. To reserve a seat, email

AIR job fair

Over 30 local restaurants will participate in the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association’s inaugural job fair. On Tuesday, March 26, owners, chefs and managers will be available to discuss open positions with job seekers. According to a press release, AIR restaurants employ nearly 6,000 people in Buncombe County, with hourly wages that range from $13.75 for nontip restaurant employees to $19.46 for tipped restaurant employees.

The job fair runs noon-5 p.m. Tuesday, March 26, at the Hilton DoubleTree in Biltmore Village, 115 Hendersonville Road. The event is free to attend. For more information, visit

Aunt Mary’s now open

Manicomio Pizza owners Michael Napelitano and Jonathan Leibowitz recently opened Aunt Mary’s, a small event and catering venue. The space, which is connected to Manicomio’s, can host parties of up to 40 people and offers off-site catering. The Italian menu features appetizers, salads, pastas and entrées. Highlights include fried zucchini, antipasto, meatballs, chicken Parmesan, lasagna and chicken marsala. Aunt Mary’s also offers a fully stocked liquor bar. Desserts are available upon request. “We aim to provide quality food and customer service at an affordable and approachable price point,” says Leibowitz.

Aunt Mary’s is at 27 Biltmore Ave. For more information, visit

The Wine & Oyster heads downtown

The Wine & Oyster, previously located on Hendersonville Road, is renovating its new downtown location at 3 Biltmore Ave. The restaurant was originally scheduled to move into the space in December, but the location’s previous occupant, Champa Asian Cuisine and Sushi Bar, disputed the new lease. Steve Klein, co-owner of The Wine & Oyster, says he hopes to have the restaurant open by the end of this month. Mile Chen, owner of Champa Asian Cuisine and Sushi Bar, says that after eight years serving downtown, he is actively looking for a new location in the greater Asheville area. Until then, he says, fans of the restaurant can visit Champa’s Hendersonville location.

The Wine & Oyster will reopen soon at 3 Biltmore Ave. Check for updates at the restaurant’s Facebook page. Champa’s Hendersonville location is at 437 N. Main St.


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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. His writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, the Miracle Monocle, Juked and elsewhere. His debut novel, The Wind Under the Door, is now available.

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