Back in July, West End Bakery & Café embraced the summer season by adding a covered outdoor seating area to its landmark West Asheville property. Around the same time, the bakery’s dessert chef, Meg Schearer, introduced dessert flights to the menu — a sampling of sweet items in tiny portions on one plate — and the eatery rolled out evening hours on Fridays and Saturdays along with a beer and wine menu .
Now that summer is drawing to a close, West End Bakery plans to celebrate the enlarged space and highlight the new nighttime offerings with a family-friendly, neighborhood Patio Party on Saturday, Sept. 20.
The event will also kick off a new monthly Youth Open Mic Night, which will happen 6-9 p.m. the third Saturday of every month. Kids ages 18 and younger are welcome to perform their music, poetry, storytelling or stand-up comedy. Live music will follow the open mic 9-11 p.m.
West End co-owner Krista Stearns says adding entertainment, beer and wine and dessert flights — an idea that came from relatives living in larger cities who noted the growing trend — is an effort to bring attention to the café as an evening destination for families.
“We have so many bars and restaurants in West Asheville,” says Stearns, who has two young children, “but we wanted [to create] a spot where families could come and be in the evenings and hear a little music and poetry that was family-appropriate; where kids can have dessert and grownups can have wine.”
In addition to the Youth Open Mic Night, Stearns says the restaurant has already launched West End Poetry and Prose, a free monthly, family-oriented reading and storytelling series organized by Lockie Hunter, who coordinates a similar event at Downtown Books & News.
West End is also now serving its Hot Mess pimento cheese dip and breakfast biscuits at night. Dessert flights are $6 each and are available 7-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Patio Party, 5-11 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 20, West End Bakery, 757 Haywood Road. Kids interested in participating in the open mic can find out more by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. West End Poetry and Prose happens 7-9 p.m. the second Saturday of each month. westendbakery.com
Opportunities for amateur winemakers
The French Broad Vignerons, a service and support organization for vineyards, orchards and their products, is making efforts to expand its involvement with noncommercial, hobbyist winemakers. The group, which founded the Best of the Appalachians wine program and judges the Asheville Wine and Food Festival wine competitions, also hopes to increase its connections with people who are interested in learning to grow grapes and make wine but have no experience. According to a press release, the Vignerons will help people assess their property to determine the best location for a vineyard, select grape vines and plan how they will make their wine. They also offer two events each year where amateur vintners can receive feedback on their wines from experienced judges.
Details: frenchbroadvignerons.org or Facebook.com/FrenchBroadVignerons
Free help with Food Systems Projects
The Food Systems team at the Carolina Farm Stewards Association is launching a new Food Systems Projects Program. Each year, the program will accept a small number of projects in North and South Carolina to receive one-on-one assistance toward implementation and sustainability as a business. The team will offer free consulting services such as feasibility assessments, market channel development, business planning assistance, investment/lending matching, product sourcing assistance and legal structure guidance. The deadline for applications is 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 6.
Details: carolinafarmstewards.org/food-systems-consulting-services or contact Ben Filippo at 919-542-2042 or by email@example.com
Tempeh Barbecue Challenge
Last year it was tacos, the year before it was Reuben sandwiches. This year, Smiling Hara Tempeh has announced that the theme of its annual Tempeh Challenge will be barbecue. On Sunday, Oct. 26, local chefs will square off at The Boathouse in the River Arts District to see who can make the most delicious barbecue tempeh creation. For the cost of a $15 ticket ($12 in advance), guests will be able to sample and vote on the competing dishes. Children ages 12 and younger are free. The family-friendly event will also feature live music, and Smiling Hara is promising a big announcement at the bash. The event will donate 25 percent of its proceeds to the Growing Warriors program, which trains and equips veterans to grow produce and hemp.
2014 Tempeh Challenge, 2-6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 26, The Boathouse, 318 Riverside Drive. Details: Facebook.com/smilingharatempehllc
Harvest at the River Festival
With autumn in the air, harvest celebrations are in order. Accordingly, the Mills River Farmers Market will host its Harvest at the River Festival on Saturday, Sept. 20. The bash will include displays of animals and farm equipment, live music and entertainment, and cooking and craft demonstrations. Market vendors will also be selling their items, which include locally grown produce and locally produced cheeses, meats, jams, jellies, fresh-cut flowers and handmade arts and crafts. The market accepts credit and debit cards as well as EBT/SNAP.
Harvest at the River Festival, 8 a.m.-noon, Saturday, Sept. 20, G&B Energy Plaza, 5046 Boylston Highway, Mills River. Details: 891-3332