Luella’s Bar-B-Que owners Jeff and Ashley Miller already have their hands full with a pair of newborns. And with the launch of Luella’s new location in South Asheville’s Biltmore Park, they’ll soon be juggling two restaurants as well.
“We are hustling for a March opening,” Jeff says, calling his second spot “snug and intimate — very similar to how it feels when you walk into Luella’s on Merrimon Ave. But there are also some new ideas in terms of ambiance and lighting that are going to make it feel like a freshened-up Luella’s experience.”
For starters, the second location will have more TVs, though it won’t be a full-fledged sports bar. The Millers are also “setting up the room in a way that is more friendly to live music than what we have on Merrimon,” says Jeff. The new spot, like the existing location, will accommodate roughly 100 diners using indoor, patio and bar seating.
While menus will initially be identical, each location will offer a few unique dishes once operations are smooth. The South Asheville Luella’s will have two small smokers to accomplish this instead of the one large unit used on Merrimon. “We’ll be able to offer more cold-smoked items and change up our technique a little bit, which is what’s going to bring some of the variety to the menu down there,” Jeff says.
The forward progress also represents a return for the barbecue joint, which opened in South Asheville in 2007 before relocating two years later. “I knew we already had an audience that missed us,” Jeff says, calling the neighborhood’s residents very receptive to “bringing the core Asheville vibe south.”
The Millers view the transition as a natural next step for the whole Luella’s team rather than a competitive reaction to Asheville’s uptick in new restaurants. “There are so many more places to eat, and many are barbecue places, which are very good, but we have always experienced growth in every single year,” Jeff says, noting a 25 percent increase in sales over four years.
Even in the commercial sphere, Asheville is a tight-knit community with a collaborative spirit, according to the restaurateur. “That’s what makes it a lot of fun to do business here.”
Luella’s new location is at 33 Town Square Blvd. Visit luellasbbq.com for updates.
Asheville Cocktail Week
In its eighth year, the Asheville Wine & Food Festival is adding Asheville Cocktail Week to its lineup. Presented in partnership with Spirit Savvy Cocktails, the series is “a celebration of the art of mixology and craft spirits, combining the best talent and trends the industry has to offer,” says an announcement about the AWFF. It runs Wednesday to Sunday, May 4-8, and includes events such as a bloody mary contest, cocktail theater, the Elixir bar competition, a Cinco de Mayo tequila tasting, a regional distilling expo, several cocktail-inspired dinners and other evening activities.
Visit ashevillewineandfood.com for the full lineup or to buy tickets, which go on sale Monday, Feb. 15. Other Asheville Wine and Food Festival event tickets are on sale now.
Local Provisions wine-pairing dinner
Launched in late autumn by Southern chef Justin Burdett, Local Provisions is hosting a five-course meal with Vajra’s wines to celebrate the flavors of winter. Guests will first be served raw and roasted vegetables — some prepared using Burdett’s new roasting technique, which implements oyster shells and spent hops. Also on the menu are items such as Harkers Island oysters encapsulated in a smoked beet leather and finished with carbonated grape and sorrel; charred octopus in a mortadella broth with local greens and dried fig; pine-smoked duck; and to finish, local buttermilk and tarragon panna cotta with quince sorbet. Each dish comes paired with a Vajra wine, and Italian winemaker Francesca Vajra will discuss the products and processes of her family’s business.
The dinner is at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11, at Local Provisions, 77 Biltmore Ave. Tickets are $65 per person. Visit localprovisionsasheville.com for more information or call 424-7815 to make a reservation.
Free scoops for The Hop Ice Creamery’s first birthday
It’s been a year since The Hop augmented its two ice cream shops with a production facility and tasting room in West Asheville. “Between birthday parties, field trips, tasting days, break dancing and production, we have learned more about this business and what it is [and] will become than we could’ve ever expected,” co-owner Greg Garrison writes on Facebook. “We couldn’t have done it without the help of you, our customers, and this truly incredible community.” To celebrate, the Hop Ice Creamery will offer free kiddie scoops to everyone on Friday, Feb. 12.
The Hop Ice Creamery is at 167 Haywood Road. The free scoop offer is valid 6-9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12. Visit avl.mx/26t for details.