Small bites: Little Jumbo aims for speedy cocktails in Five Points

GEARING UP TO GO: Co-owners Chall Gray, left, and Jay Sanders add the final touches to Little Jumbo before its opening on Tuesday, Nov. 7.
GEARING UP TO GO: Co-owners Chall Gray, left, and Jay Sanders add the final touches to Little Jumbo before its opening on Tuesday, Nov. 7. Photo by Thomas Calder

If you’ve ever ordered a craft cocktail, then you know: It sometimes takes a while for the drink to make it the table. Little Jumbo, a new cocktail bar in the Five Points neighborhood, seeks to minimize the wait. Scheduled to open on Tuesday, Nov. 7, the venue will specialize in craft cocktails made in a timely fashion. “There’s still some pretty involved drinks, but we’ve figured out ways to do them quickly,” explains co-owner Chall Gray.

The establishment’s name pays homage to craft cocktail industry pioneer Harry Johnson, author of the 1882 Bartender’s Manual and a Guide for Hotels and Restaurants. “His main thing as a bartender was that the drinks should come out quickly and efficiently, and that you should be welcoming and take good care of the customers,” Gray says. “His ethos spoke to what we wanted to do.”

Housed in the Jenkins Building, the new bar has kept many of the property’s original 1920s designs, including the tin ceiling tiles and battered floorboards. “We really tried to let the room dictate what would work best,” says Gray. “The building has so much character; we wanted to let the bones of it show.”

Little Jumbo will accommodate up to 54 guests with a lounge area in the back and a banquette upfront, along with low- and high-top tables and bar seating. Its drink menu will feature a number of categories: Refreshers (dubbed the “pick-me-up drinks of the day”), the Featured Classic (various takes on the gin and tonic), Favors the Brave (described as “adventurous drinks for the intrepid, the daring”) and an after-dinner selection (“relaxing pours of the evening”). Prices are from $5-$20 with most drinks falling into the $8-$10 range.

Along with cocktails, there will be a selection of wines and craft beers available on tap and in bottles. A food menu created by chef Leisa Payne will feature bites including homemade salt-and-pepper chips, smoked trout dip, avocado grapefruit salad, a cheese plate and triple chocolate mousse cake.

Gray’s intention is for Little Jumbo to be a neighborhood bar with a comfortable, casual setting. “My hope is that people will come in and feel like it’s always been here, and be surprised by that feeling,” he says.

Little Jumbo opens Tuesday, Nov. 7, at 241 Broadway. Hours will be 4-11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 4 p.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday. For more information, visit avl.mx/48q

14th annual Taste of Compassion Gala

The upcoming Taste of Compassion Gala is the largest annual fundraiser for the Asheville Humane Society — last year’s event enabled the organization to help 9,250 local animals. Several local businesses, including Colorful Palate, Posana, Twisted Laurel, Mellow Mushroom, Strada Italiano, Corner Kitchen, P.F. Chang’s, Plant and Over Easy will contribute plates for this year’s event, which will feature a Roaring Twenties theme. Mick Glasgow and the House Hoppers will perform with singer Krista Tortora. Silent and live auctions will also be held.

The 14th annual Taste of Compassion Gala runs 6-9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, at the Morris Hellenic Cultural Center, 227 Cumberland Ave. VIP tickets have sold out. General admission is $75. For details and tickets, visit avl.mx/48p.

WNC Cookbook & Food Writing Festival

On Saturday, Nov. 4, Barnes & Noble at the Asheville Mall brings back the WNC Cookbook & Food Writing Festival for its second year. The free event features book signings and food samples with local restaurateurs and food writers Kyle James of Bun Intended, Katie Button of Cúrate and Nightbell and authors Ashley English, Barbara Swell and Elizabeth Sims.

The WNC Cookbook & Food Writing Festival begins at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, at Barnes & Noble Asheville Mall, 3 S. Tunnel Road. For more information, visit avl.mx/48t.

Asheville B&B Association Releases Cookbook

Fourteen local inns contributed recipes for the new cookbook Morning in the Mountains. On Wednesday, Nov. 8, Williams-Sonoma at Historic Biltmore Village will host a book signing to celebrate its release, with copies available for purchase. The event will also feature a cooking demonstration and tasting samples from 1889 WhiteGate Inn & Cottage innkeeper Frank Salvo. “We want this book to help travelers understand the rich experience and the mouthwatering food they will enjoy when they choose an Asheville Bed & Breakfast Association inn,” says Susan Dosier, the event’s publicist.

Morning in the Mountains book signing begins at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8, at Williams-Sonoma, 10 Brook St. For more information, visit avl.mx/48m.

Dinner Benefits Homeward Bound

On Wednesday, Nov. 8, Homeward Bound, a nonprofit that aims to end homelessness in Buncombe and Henderson counties, will team with Nightbell and Cúrate for Look Homeward, a benefit dinner. “This is our third year hosting a fundraiser for Homeward Bound, as we feel their mission is incredibly vital to Western North Carolina,” says Katie Button, Nightbell and Cúrate owner and executive chef.

The evening begins at Nightbell for drinks and small plates and concludes inside Cúrate’s private dining room with Spanish tapas and dessert. The dinner will also feature a welcome cocktail and wines provided by Freedom Beverage and Mutual Distributing Co.

Look Homeward: A Benefit Dinner for Homeward Bound runs 5-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8. The evening begins at Nightbell, 32 S. Lexington Ave. Tickets are $125 per person. All proceeds will benefit Homeward Bound. For tickets and details, visit avl.mx/48n.

Farewell to The Junction

On Oct. 22, after six-and-a-half years in business, The Junction in the River Arts District closed for good. Owners Charles and Tanya Triber have sold the business to Shannon and Josiah McGaughey of Salt & Smoke. In a farewell letter to patrons, the Tribers wrote that they have “outgrown the lifestyle that the restaurant industry demands” and want to spend more time with their daughters. The McGaugheys announced on social media on Oct. 26 that they plan to open a dinner restaurant in the space this winter called Vivian. “Salt & Smoke will stay open and keep pumping out the tasty food you love, while Josiah will continue to explore a similar yet elevated style of cuisine at Vivian,” says the announcement.

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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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