Small bites: AUX Bar pays it forward

SERVING THE COMMUNITY: AUX Bar executive chef and co-owner Steve Goff recently launched a wooden nickel program at the restaurant aimed at feeding anyone in need of a hot meal. Photo by Thomas Calder

AUX Bar executive chef and co-owner Steve Goff is no stranger to the daily struggles faced by those experiencing homelessness. For nearly a decade, the restaurant owner zigzagged across the country hopping freight trains while living on the streets. Among the many challenges he faced was locating his next meal.

“There’s times when there is no soup kitchen open and nowhere to go to get something to eat,” he explains.

To help mitigate this issue for those in the local homeless community, AUX Bar recently launched its wooden nickel program. The concept is fairly simple: Diners have the option to buy a $5 wooden nickel that they can offer to anybody in need of food. When the recipient of the wooden nickel brings the coin back to AUX Bar, they are served an in-house meal.

Goff says vegetarian options will be available upon request; otherwise, the restaurant will serve fried chicken, pulled pork or any other readily available and feasible option.

“We obviously have a huge amount of need in this community, and I would just like to bring a little more attention to it,” Goff says.

The chef also sees the wooden nickel program as a way to bring joy to members of the community who are often overlooked and ignored. “When you’re homeless, you’re constantly treated as nonhuman,” Goff says. “This is a way to serve them a nice hot meal and hopefully brighten their day. [In general] that’s what a restaurant is supposed to do. … So why not extend that to everyone?”

The program is ongoing at AUX Bar, 68 N. Lexington Ave. Nickels can be purchased on-site for $5 during regular hours, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily. For more, visit

Spring markets open

Several of Western North Carolina’s tailgate markets return to the streets this week and will continue to operate through October. Wednesday, April 3, marks the start for both the Asheville City Market-South and Weaverville Tailgate Market. Saturday, April 6, welcomes back the Asheville City Market, Hot Springs Homegrown and Handmade Market, Mars Hill Farmers & Artisans Market and North Asheville Tailgate Market. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, April 9, the West Asheville Tailgate Market relaunches its spring offerings.

For times and locations, visit

Kitchen Ready Showcase Dinner

On Friday, April 5, Green Opportunities’ Kitchen Ready program will host its latest Showcase Dinner. The evening’s menu, prepared by the program’s students, will feature French cuisine. Menu details were not available at press time. There’s a suggested $10 donation for the meal, or pay what you can. GO Kitchen Ready is a culinary training program for low-income adults who face barriers to employment.

The dinner runs 5:30-8 p.m. Friday, April 5, at the Arthur R. Edington Education & Career Center, 133 Livingston St. To learn more, visit

Short Meat Throwdown

Knuckle-Deep BBQ Fest will celebrate the Year of the Pig with its latest Short Meat Throwdown competition. The Saturday, April 6, event will feature up to a dozen teams competing in one of the following three categories: chicken, ribs or freestyle. Jeff Miller, co-owner of Luella’s Bar-B-Que, will lead a panel of four other judges at this year’s event. There is a $10 suggested donation for attendees to sample and vote for the winner of the people’s choice award.

The throwdown runs 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, April 6, at French Broad Outfitters at Hominy Creek, 230 Hominy Creek Road. For more information, visit

Tortilla making at Living Web Farms

Living Web Farms will host a tortilla-making workshop Tuesday, April 9. According to a press release, instructor Kelley Wilkinson and her family owned and operated a hotel for 10 years in Mexico’s Sierra Madre Mountains before relocating to Asheville. The class will include historical and practical insight into the tortilla-making process. along with tastings. The event is donation-based with a $10 suggestion.

The workshop runs 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, April 9, at Living Web Farms, 176 Kimzey Road, Mills River. To register, visit

New look at MG Road

The farrago of lights that once illuminated downtown cocktail bar MG Road have come down. The next chapter and theme are Indian Tiki, with plenty of pink and green neon lights, palm trees and golden lobster decor. Along with its new look, the bar will feature a refreshed cocktail menu, including drinks such as The Sweetest Curse (cachaca, Jamaican rum, pomegranate-infused Campari, pineapple, lime and blackstrap molasses), That’s the Tiki Tea! (rum, hibiscus, rose, lemongrass, lime, acid-adjusted pineapple and soda) and Rosalinda (Plantation 3 Star, Wray & Nephew Overproof rum, jackfruit, red bean, ube, Coco Lopez, shaved ice and purple whipped cream).

MG Road is at 19 Wall St. Hours are 5 p.m.-midnight Monday-Thursday and 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday-Saturday. For more, visit

Carolina Mountain Cheese Fest

Tickets are now on sale for the 2019 Carolina Mountain Cheese Fest. The festival works to advance the mission of the WNC Cheese Trail, a nonprofit organization that promotes the production and sale of local cheese, facilitates consumer education and encourages agritourism to the region.

The festival runs noon-5 p.m. Sunday, April 28, at Highland Brewing Co.,12 Old Charlotte Highway. Tickets are $20. To purchase, visit

Ashley Capps joins Asheville Bread Festival

UPDATE: Ashley English will be filling in as instructor for Flavor-forward Flours in Pastry. 

The Asheville Bread Festival recently added Buxton Hall Barbecue pastry chef Ashley Capps to its list of 2019 workshop leaders. Capps will teach Flavor-forward Flours in Pastry. Tickets are $30.

The workshop runs 2:30-4 p.m. Saturday, April 13, at UNC Asheville’s teaching kitchen inside the Sherrill Center, 1 University Heights. For more, visit

Aloha Cafe and Alley Cat open in Asheville

Aloha Cafe recently opened downtown, specializing in poke bowls, banh mi and spring rolls. Meanwhile, in West Asheville, Alley Cat, a new wine bar, has also launched. Along with wine, Alley Cat hosts live music and DJs Thursday-Saturday and has a retail store offering bottles of wine and beer to go.

Aloha Cafe is at 28 Battery Park Ave. For more, visit Alley Cat is at 797 Haywood Road. For more, visit


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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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3 thoughts on “Small bites: AUX Bar pays it forward

  1. Judi Leffe

    Thank you, Steve Goff, Aux Bar for doing what I’ve been waiting for. This is much needed here in Asheville and I thank you for allowing us to participate. I understand the homeless situation quite well and know they are in need of help. I’ll be by and get $20 worth of nickels, to start. You are an angel! Luv U . Judi

  2. Maranda D.

    I love this! Just found out about this place today so I went. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to eat there, I got a couple nickels though. I’ll be carrying them with me to hopefully brighten someone’s day. My family will be eating there soon. Definitely will be supporting this business.

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