Small bites: MG Road bids adieu

CLOSING TIME: MG Road owner Meherwan Irani will close his Wall Street cocktail lounge Aug. 3 in order to create a downstairs lobby bar for Chai Pani. The new space is slated to open in September. Photo by Thomas Calder

The bright lights will soon go out for good at MG Road as the bar/lounge prepares to host its final farewell dance party Saturday, Aug. 3. The evening will feature DJ Lil Meow Meow alongside DJ Abu Disarray. Once the music stops and the disco balls cease spinning, construction will swiftly begin, transforming the space into a new downstairs lobby bar for MG Road’s sister business, the popular Indian street food restaurant Chai Pani.

Owner Meherwan Irani says the decision to close MG Road, while painful, solves several logistical problems. First and foremost, the changes to the downstairs section will allow Chai Pani to seat larger parties without a prolonged wait. Plans call for two large 12-top tables to replace the current bar’s booths, which are situated on both sides of its entrance.

Smaller parties that are placed on the upstairs waiting list can make their way down to the lobby bar to nibble on snacks from the restaurant’s menu and sip cocktails. For those unfamiliar with the building’s layout, an inside staircase connects the two venues. MG Road’s current Wall Street access will be reserved for people with disabilities.

The downstairs lobby will also offer merchandise and entertainment, including everything from screenings of Hindi films to live musical acts. Irani says his vision is for the space to reshape the way diners view going out. “We want people to hear there’s a two-hour wait and say, ‘Thank God!’” he exclaims.

Of course, he notes, he will miss the unique, creative energy that went into MG Road over its seven-year run. “It was a concert hall for pop-ups,” he says. “I’ll miss that the most. … In my mind, there is always more creative freedom with a cocktail bar, and it attracts people who enjoy that creative freedom.”

After a pause, the Chai Pani owner adds, “But we’re pretty crazy and creative over here, too.”

Chai Pani is at 22 Battery Park Ave. The downstairs lobby bar is slated to open in September. For more information, visit

Introduction to wine evaluation

Wine expert wannabes will have a chance to hone their knowledge in the latest workshop led by the French Broad Vignerons. The Saturday, Aug. 3, class will include handouts with a personal wine flavor chart, as well as a list of evaluation terms and a sample wine judging card. Immediately after the event, Chuck Blethen, president and treasurer of the French Broad Vignerons, will host a pizza party at his home, weather permitting. Tickets are $12 for members and $15 for nonmembers.

The class takes place 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, at Jewel of the Blue Ridge Classroom, 177 Cabin Hollow Drive, Marshall. For more information, visit

Hemp tea party

Asheville Tea Co. and Franny’s Farm will team up to co-host a hemp tea party Sunday, Aug. 4. Featured teas will include chocolate berry hemp, chamomile hemp and lemon ginger hemp. Snacks will also be provided along with a discussion about the local hemp industry. Tickets are $15.

The party runs 5-6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 4, at Franny’s Farmacy, 211 Merrimon Ave. Suite 111. For more information, visit

Cooking from scratch

Living Web Farms will host its popular class What If You Couldn’t Buy It? on Tuesday, Aug. 6. Led by Patryk Battle and Meredith Leigh, the workshop will teach participants how to make several specialty condiments, including capers and sriracha sauce. Recipes and samples will be provided. A $10 donation is suggested.

The class runs 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6, at Mills River Educational Farm, 176 Kimzey Road, Mills River. To register for the class, visit

The Luella’s Pie

Asheville Pizza & Brewing Co. continues its series of specialty collaborative pizzas with the release of The Luella’s Pie, available through August at the pizzeria’s North Asheville location. Luella’s sweet Pisgah barbecue sauce is used as the pizza’s base with toppings from Luella’s that include pulled pork, chopped brisket and hoop cheddar cheese. Additional toppings from Asheville Pizza include bacon, pickled red onions, green onions and a three-cheese blend. The pie was created by chefs Jeff Miller of Luella’s Bar-B-Que and Nick Izzo of Asheville Pizza Co. The pizza costs $19.99 and is only available for in-house, evening diners.

Asheville Pizza & Brewing Co.’s North Asheville location is at 675 Merrimon Ave. For more information, visit

Round Earth Roasters

Biltmore Coffee Roasters, operated by Laura and Rick Telford, recently rebranded as Round Earth Roasters. The rebranding coincides with the location’s new addition, The Backyard Bar, which celebrated its grand opening on July 12. Offering local craft beer and wine, as well as live music and movie nights, The Backyard Bar is open Fridays, 5-9 p.m., Saturdays, 1-9 p.m. and Sundays 1-6 p.m.

Round Earth Roasters and The Backyard Bar are at 518 Hendersonville Road. For more information, visit

Got milk?

MANNA FoodBank and The Dairy Alliance recently partnered to help bring milk to food-insecure families in Western North Carolina. Through the Milk2MyPlate initiative, MANNA was able to buy a refrigerated dairy express van. A press release from MANNA says, “The goal of the pilot program is to provide an additional way for food banks to supply patrons with the calcium, protein, vitamin D and other valuable nutrients that milk offers.”

For more on the program, visit

Not Your Nonna’s Lasagna

Genie Gunn, food and nutrition manager at Verner Center for Early Learning, was recently recognized as a Culinary Creations Top 10 chef in a nationwide recipe contest hosted by Premier Inc. health care company. The contest called for traditional recipes with a healthy twist, eliminating processed foods and incorporating fresh ingredients. Gunn’s entry was the plant-based Not Your Nonna’s Lasagna.


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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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