Small bites: Fractals Coffee Shop and Cafe opens in West Asheville

GEEKING OUT: Fractals Coffee House and Cafe owner Nicholas Altman, left, and colleague Daniel Stonestreet show off the eatery's time travel machine/virtual reality booth, inspired by the television show "Doctor Who. " Photo by Thomas Calder

When Nicholas Altman tells people about the concept for his new business, Fractals Coffee Shop and Cafe, folks tend to respond in one of two ways. “They either nerd out,” he says, “or they look at me like I’m insane.”

Fractals is set to open on Haywood Road in West Asheville on Thursday, March 15. In many ways, it’s your typical cafe. The drink menu offers a full array of caffeinated beverages, from coffee to espresso to café au lait, with beans sourced from Penny Cup Coffee Co. Meanwhile, Fractals’ food menu offers an assortment of salads, soups and panini sandwiches, along with a kids menu with favorites such as grilled cheese, peanut butter and jelly, and mac and cheese.

Then, of course, there’s the time machine parked in the main dining area. Well, it’s not a real time machine, but a replica of the TARDIS featured in the television show “Doctor Who.” The blue police telephone box, built by Altman himself, will be accessible to guests. “We’re going to have a [virtual reality] system in here,” he explains. “You’ll walk in, slip on the VR headset and have an experience.”

And this is just the tip of this iceberg. The 2,500-square-foot building, a former accountant office, has two main areas. Along with the dining room, there is a separate side room, which Altman describes as his “museum of oddities.” In it, adults and children alike will be able to interact with a variety of items, including the world’s smallest violin, Vantablack paint, a polygraph machine and a functioning light saber.

Altman happily demonstrates the final item on the list, holding up a piece of paper through which the bright blue beam burns a hole within a matter of seconds. “Don’t put your hand in front of it,” he cautions. “It hurts. I made that mistake.” Similar demonstrations will be offered to guests.

Altman’s vision for Fractals is a playscape for all ages, filled with “the most unusual things you’ve ever seen, with coffee.” Plans include a giant version of Connect Four, as well as a Lite Brite wall. The front parking lot will also hold a life-size game of chess for patrons to play.

“I want [customers] to come in and feel like they stepped into a different dimension,” he says. “I want them to feel a sense of awe.”

Fractals Coffee Shop and Cafe is at 547 Haywood Road. The grand opening is Thursday, March 15. Hours of operation are yet to be determined. For details, visit fractalscoffee.com.

Hendersonville Restaurant Week

Black Rose Public House, Bold Rock Hard Cider, Brooks Tavern, Flat Rock Wood Room, Hannah Flanagan’s, Mezzaluna, Never Blue, Old Orchard Tavern, Postero, Season’s at Highland Lake and The Dugout Taproom & Grill are all slated to participate in the inaugural Hendersonville Restaurant Week, a 10-day celebration running March 15-24. In a press release, organizer Laura Huff says, “The dining scene in Hendersonville is growing, so this is the restaurants’ time to shine.” Eateries will offer prix fixe lunch and dinner menus, priced at $10-$35. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Dandelion, a job-training program of Safelight in downtown Hendersonville.

To learn more, visit HendersonvilleRW.com.

African Friendship Dinner

Folkmoot will host a community African Friendship Dinner on Friday, March 16, with Western Carolina University’s Organization of African Students. The evening will include food, dance and activities representing Nigeria, Liberia, Congo, Zambia, Kenya, Togo, South Sudan, Ghana and Ethiopia. Menu highlights include chicken jollof rice as well as puff-puff (a fried dough ball sprinkled with powdered sugar) for dessert.

The African Friendship Dinner at Folkmoot runs 6-8 p.m. Friday, March 16, at the Folkmoot Friendship Center, 112 Virginia Ave., Waynesville. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students and $40 for families of four. For details and tickets, visit folkmoot.org

The MacMomma

The Asheville Vegan Society and THE BLOCK Off Biltmore will co-host the inaugural Vegan Mac ‘n’ Cheese Cook-Off on Saturday, March 17. Competitors are asked to bring prepared dishes that feature some type of pasta and vegan cheese sauce. Recipes must not contain meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, honey or gelatin. The event is $5 to enter, $10 to sample and judge. All proceeds will benefit Asheville VegFest: A Celebration of Vegan Food and Drink. Competitors and attendees are asked to bring their own utensils and plates. Dishes must be prepared before arrival; no cooking is allowed on-site.

The MacMomma runs 5-7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 17, at THE BLOCK Off Biltmore, 39 S. Market St. For tickets, visit avl.mx/4rd.

Asheville Humane Society hosts 15th annual Dine to Be Kind

On Tuesday, March 20, over 80 Asheville area restaurants will participate in the 15th annual Dine to Be Kind organized by Asheville Humane Society. Premier restaurants, which will donate 25 percent of daily sales to the nonprofit, include: Ambrozia Bar & Bistro, Avenue M (participating Wednesday, March 21), Baked Pie Co., Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar, Blue Sky Cafe, Crêperie & Cafe, Copper Crown, Cucina 24, Glass Onion, The Grey Eagle Taqueria, Juicy Lucy’s Burger Bar and Grill, Native Kitchen and Social Pub, Posana, Roux, Smoky Park Supper Club, Sunny Point Café, Urban Burrito, Wicked Weed Brewing and The Wine and Oyster. Additionally, there are over 40 other eateries that will donate 15 percent of their daily proceeds to the nonprofit.

Dine to Be Kind 2018 runs 6 a.m.-midnight Tuesday March, 20. For a full list of participating restaurants, visit avl.mx/4rc.

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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. He has worked with several publications, including Gulf Coast and the Collagist. For his weekly #tuesdayhistory tidbits on Asheville, follow him on Instagram @tcalder.

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