Small bites: Smiling Hara Tempeh’s multifaceted expansion

DINNER'S DONE: In partnership with Whole Foods across the Southeast, Smiling Hara Tempeh is releasing precooked, preseasoned products that cut down on meal prep time. Photo courtesy of Smiling Hara Tempeh

On the heels of debuting its hemp-laden Hempeh product in 2015, Smiling Hara Tempeh is expanding in multiple directions. Not only are owners Sarah Yancey and Chad Oliphant boosting their partnership with Whole Foods by releasing a line of precooked, preseasoned products, but the local food entrepreneurs are planning a new website with online ordering capabilities plus the opening of a new production facility in Barnardsville by February.

The 8,000-square-foot factory “gives room to grow over the next five years,” Yancey says. “It is a dream come true.”

While Smiling Hara will operate out of Blue Ridge Food Ventures until the transition is complete, the growing company will soon need extra capacity to keep pace with demand. Whole Foods, for instance, just began stocking Smiling Hara’s new heat-and-eat products in roughly two dozen of its locations across the Southeast.

“We have received feedback from our customer base over the years that preparation of tempeh is somewhat foreign to them and can be difficult,” says Yancey. “We wanted to alleviate these hurdles by creating delicious and healthy varieties of our products that were ready to heat and eat.”

So far, the new line includes two flavors. “The Sweet Miso Ginger Tempeh Strips are precut and marinated using local Miso Master as an ingredient,” Yancey says. “The Smoked Salt and Pepper Peanut Hempeh is dry rubbed using local Celtic Sea Salt and acts like a steak when brushed with oil and pan fried, grilled or baked.”

Since these recent releases are precooked, they’ll appear in stores’ refrigerator sections alongside tofu, seitan and other brands of tempeh. Smiling Hara’s original fresh-frozen tempehs, however, will remain in the frozen meat-alternative area.

Asheville-based customers have been able to source Smiling Hara’s staple goods from local health food stores for some time now, but nonlocals may be excited to learn about one more development: Yancey and Oliphant will soon begin shipping their heat-and-eat line nationwide, as it’s less perishable.  The two are currently working on a website that accepts individual orders with hopes of unveiling the online store later this month.

Visit for more information and updates on the company. 

Winter farmers markets

Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project has compiled a list of post-holiday winter markets, which begin this week. Here’s the organization’s information on finding goods from local growers and makers:

Asheville City Market: 10 a.m.-noon Saturdays, Jan. 9-March 26, Asheville Masonic Temple, 80 Broadway.

YMCA Indoor Winter Market: 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturdays, Jan. 9-March 26, Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, 789 Merrimon Ave.

Spruce Pine Farmers Market: Noon-4 p.m. first Saturdays of the month, Dec. 5-April 12, The Pizza Shop and Dry County Brewing Co., 585 Oak Ave., Spruce Pine.

Transylvania Farmers Market (limited vendors): 10 a.m.-noon Saturdays, Dec. 26-April 30, 190 E. Main St., Brevard.

Visit for updated information. Details are subject to change.

MANNA FoodBank’s new roof

Several organizations recently donated time or services to replace the roof on MANNA FoodBank’s Swannanoa River Road warehouse. Benton Roofing owner Caleb Benton says his team “worked with several vendors in the area to secure high-quality materials that will protect MANNA’s warehouses well into the next decade.” Donors included Best Distribution, Roof Hugger and Metal Roofing Systems. The construction is now complete.

Visit for more information.

PennyCup Coffee Co. opens in the YMI Cultural Center

The new year brought a second storefront for PennyCup Coffee Co., which is now open for business inside the YMI building downtown. In addition to a full menu of coffee and espresso drinks, the new space serves pastries, hearty bagel sandwiches, house-made granola and several varieties of fresh roasted coffee from PennyCup’s flagship roastery and tasting room in the River Arts District. While the downtown spot is currently geared toward sitting and Web surfing, management hopes to host live music events at the café in the future.

The YMI Cultural Center is at 39 Market St. Hours are 7 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m.-3 p.m. weekends. Visit for updates on the new space.


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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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