Small bites: Black-Eyed Susan Cafe opens in Black Mountain

REUNITED: The Black-Eyed Susan Café recently opened in Black Mountain inside Mellie Mac's Garden Shack. Café owners Cynthia Brasher, left, and her husband, Brad, sit at one of the restaurant's tables with Mellie Mac's owner Mellie Macsherry. Photo courtesy of Cynthia Brasher

For the past nine years, Cynthia Brasher and her husband, Brad, have operated Black-Eyed Susan Catering, offering Southern cuisine at events big and small. The idea for a brick-and-mortar business, however, was never far from their minds. “We’ve always wanted a meat-and-three,” says Cynthia.

Last month, the couple brought their vision to life with the opening of the 70-seat Black-Eyed Susan Cafe. While catering remains a key component of the business, the restaurant offers a new home base inside Mellie Mac’s Garden Shack in Black Mountain.

Staying true to the Brashers’ meat-and-three vision, the ever-changing, Southern-inspired lunch menu features entrées such as chicken Florentine, bacon-wrapped meatloaf and herb-crusted salmon with sides like carrot soufflé, collards, zucchini and lima beans. Desserts are also available with an emphasis on pie. Plates range from $8-$12.

Cynthia notes that the restaurant’s location creates a unique lunch experience. “You’re sitting with all the flowers and the hanging baskets, and you kind of feel like you’re in the Garden of Eden.”

The shared space is also a reunion of sorts. Cynthia and Mellie Mac’s owner, Mellie Macsherry, are longtime friends, both originally from Birmingham, Ala. The café, says Cynthia, will give a boost to the garden shop during its slower months. The lunch service also complements Macsherry’s own evening offerings of wine, cheese, beer and tapas through the shop’s wine bar, unWINE’d.

“A fast, affordable Southern lunch,” says Cynthia, is Black-Eyed Susan Cafe’s mission. She also sees the restaurant as a nod to her hometown of Birmingham. “Down in the Delta area, everybody goes to meat-and-threes at lunch,” she says. “So [the café] is a good way to honor the food experience of our past.”

Black-Eyed Susan Cafe is at 304 W. State St., Black Mountain. Hours are 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, visit

Asheville VeganFest returns

The third annual Asheville VeganFest happens Friday-Sunday, June 9-11. A vegan food tour with Asheville Food Tours kicks off the festival Friday, June 9, followed by a cocktail party at The BLOCK Off Biltmore with food prepared by Plant chef Jason Sellers and vegan ice cream from The Hop. Saturday, June 10, offers a full roster of events at the Asheville Masonic Temple, including panel discussions, workshops, a speed-dating session and a vegan chocolate tasting. The celebration wraps up with yoga classes at Violet Owl Wellness and the Asheville VeganFest Outdoor Festival at Pack Square Park.

Asheville VeganFest runs Friday-Sunday, June 9-11. For the full schedule of events and to buy tickets, visit

Buxton Presents: Fonta Flora and Friends

On Thursday, June 8, Buxton Hall Barbecue bartenders Brandon Grogan and Teddy Bourgeois will host the second event in the restaurant’s Buxton Presents series, Fonta Flora and Friends. The monthly, industry-focused, late-night beer-and-food event aims to highlight craft breweries and chefs from around the country. This month’s gathering is a pre-party for Fonta Flora Brewery’s State of Origin Festival, which takes place Saturday, June 10, in Morganton. The party will include brews from Free Range Brewing of Charlotte, Birds Fly South of Greensville, S.C.; and Jester King Brewery of Austin, Texas. The evening’s menu will feature beef sliders; house-made Carolina-style hot dogs, nachos and spicy hickory-smoked tater tots. Party guests will have the chance to win tickets to the State of Origin Festival and can expect activities including indoor bocce ball, darts and other games with prizes. “The goal behind Buxton Presents is to make a connection between our food and drink scene here in Asheville to that of other cities,” says brand director Michael Files. “We want Ashevillites to be able to connect with a larger food scene beyond our town.”

Buxton Presents: Fonta Flora and Friends runs 10 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Thursday, June 8, at Buxton Hall Barbecue, 32 Banks Ave. For details, visit

Below the Belt at Metro Wines

On Thursday, June 8, Metro Wines will host Below the Belt, an hourlong class and tasting focused on wine-growing areas of the Southern Hemisphere. Argentina, Chile, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand will all be covered in the discussion by Andy Hale, education director for the Asheville School of Wine at Metro Wines. “I try to keep my classes fun and very laid-back,” he says. “The goal … is to make wine less intimidating in a fun and informative atmosphere.”

Below the Belt runs 6-7 p.m. Thursday, June 8, at MetroWines, 169 Charlotte St. Tickets are $20. To reserve a seat, call 828-575-9525 or visit

New executive chef at Chestnut

Brian Crow has been named the new executive chef at Chestnut. Crow began his culinary career at Corner Kitchen and has since worked in kitchens across the country, including Devil’s Food Bakery & Cookery in Denver. “I’m excited by the creativity and youthful energy that Brian brings to the table, literally,” says Joe Scully, owner of Chestnut and Corner Kitchen. “Brian combines talent and kindness. He really is an embodiment of our mission.”


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

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.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.