Small Bites: The Hop heads to Black Mountain

HOPPING TO A NEW SPOT: Greg and Ashley Garrison, right, will open The Hop in Black Mountain on Dec. 7, taking over the Sweet! on Cherry Street candy store that was owned by Sydney and Walt McDougald, left. Photo courtesy of The Hop

The Hop, an ice cream maker and destination in Asheville since 1978, will open a Black Mountain outpost on Friday, Dec. 7.

The business, which has a shop on Merrimon Avenue and two on Haywood Road, will move into the space that for years has been occupied by Sweet! on Cherry Street. Ashley and Greg Garrison, who bought The Hop Ice Cream in 2008, have been supplying ice cream to the Black Mountain candy store for four years, and when the store owners Sydney and Walt McDougald decided to leave the shop, the Garrisons chose to take the space.

“The wonderful owners, Sydney and Walt, have been truly fantastic to work with and have worked extremely hard to create and build a great business. And when they decided it was time to retire and be with family, there really was no better outcome for everyone involved than for The Hop to take over,” Greg Garrison says on The Hop’s Facebook page.

“Ashley and I are extremely grateful to have gotten to know Sydney and Walt over the years and are excited to have the opportunity to continue their amazing work in the community of Black Mountain.”

The Hop’s grand opening party in Black Mountain is Friday, Dec. 7 — the same day as Black Mountain’s Holly Jolly holiday celebration. The Hop in Black Mountain is at 114 Cherry St.

French fundraiser for Roots Foundation

La Fête, a new private party place downtown, will host a French bistro buffet on Thursday, Dec. 6, to raise funds for The Roots Foundation. The buffet, which includes drinks and dessert, will be prepared by La Fête’s owner, chef Michel Baudouin. The nonprofit arm of Roots Hummus, The Roots Foundation is a local nonprofit that connects curricula to the outdoors and empowers teachers to engage students in relevant problem-solving. It currently works at Vance Elementary, Verner Early Learning Center and Montford North Star Academy.

The French bistro buffet fundraiser will be 6-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, at La Fête, 62 N. Lexington Ave. Tickets are $48 and available at

One World Brewing supports Mama Maisha

Finger food from Farm Burger will be featured at One World Brewing West on Friday, Dec. 7, when the brewery holds a fundraiser for Mama Maisha, a local nonprofit that works to decrease the number of women dying from pregnancy-related complications in resource-limited places. The event, from 7-10 p.m., will combine the beers at One World Brewing West with Farm Burger’s regular and sweet potato chips (served with creamy carrot dip and caramelized onion dip), as well as Farm Burger’s homemade hummus, fresh veggies and flatbread. All proceeds will support Mama Maisha, founded by Asheville residents Drs. Reta Graham and Jeff Graham in affiliation with local and regional nongovernmental services.

One World Brewing West is at 520 Haywood Road. For details on Mama Maisha, visit

Christmas shopping at Hickory Nut Gap Farm

Hickory Nut Gap Farm in Fairview will hold a holiday market 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, featuring local food makers, artisans and crafters. There will be a bonfire, s’mores, drinks, food samples and more. The farm will also offer a 10 percent discount on sample bags for its community supported agriculture program during the free event.

Hickory Nut Gap Farm is at 57 Sugar Hollow Road.

Big beards and hard cider

Got a beard that can’t be beat? Like hard cider? Then you (and your friends) are ideal candidates to attend the Winter BeardFest on Saturday, Dec. 8, at Bold Rock Mills River. Hosted by Bearded Villains Western North Carolina and Bold Rock Mills River, BeardFest will be a day of beards, hard cider, prizes and more. There will be a food truck and live music by The Bearded Hunnies. Register for any of the seven categories of the beard competition (preregister for $7 at; register at the event for $10). All proceeds will benefit a local charity. Beards, real and fake, will be judged at 7 p.m., and winners will receive a prize. The event is free and open to all.

Winter BeardFest happens noon-8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at Bold Rock Mills River, 72 School House Road, Mills River.

Dinner, ugly sweaters and a whodunit

Up for a murder mystery? Put on your best ugly Christmas sweater and come to the Monte Vista Hotel in Black Mountain on Sunday, Dec. 9, for dinner, dessert and a killer mystery. Staged in festive collaboration with the Watermark Theatre Collective and Milton’s, the restaurant at the hotel, the interactive show will band guests and characters together to determine who the mystery killer is. There will also be an ugly sweater competition. Choices for the main course are braised beef short rib with butternut grits and grilled broccoli and roasted butternut squash with pumpkin seed granola, carrot purée, sage and a house-made farmers cheese.

The Murder Mystery Dinner Experience happens at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, at the Monte Vista Hotel, 308 W. State St. Tickets are $55 and available at

Homegrown for the Holidays at UpCountry Brewing

UpCountry Brewing Co. celebrates its second birthday on Saturday, Dec. 15, into the wee hours of Sunday, Dec. 16, with its second Homegrown for the Holidays. The party will feature drinks, food and live music (including some holiday tunes) by Ashley Heath, Riyen Roots and Eleanor Underhill. The music starts at 2 p.m.

Homegrown for the Holidays happens noon Saturday, Dec. 15, until 2 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 16, at UpCountry Brewing Co., 1042 Haywood Road.

Health insurance for small hospitality businesses

Of interest to workers and supporters of Asheville’s restaurant scene is the health plan now being offered by the N.C. Restaurant & Lodging Association. The Restaurant & Hospitality Association Benefit Trust allows hotels, restaurants, bars and other small hospitality businesses with between two and 99 full-time employees to buy group health coverage typically available only to large employers. The RHA Benefit Trust is available exclusively to small restaurant and hotel employer members of the National Restaurant Association and its state partners, including NCRLA. It is insured and serviced by UnitedHealthcare.

To learn more and/or request a rate for employees, visit

Name, dates for new culinary festival

On Nov. 28, the board of directors of a new Asheville culinary festival announced that the event’s official name will be Chow Chow: An Asheville Culinary Event. Scheduled to take place Sept. 12-15, 2019, the festival will “highlight Asheville’s creative table through meaningful events, immersive experiences and charitable programs that connect people to the many hands, makers and diverse culinary collaborators who nourish, nurture and create in this vibrant corner of Appalachia. Grand tasting events, chef demonstrations and hands-on experiences will connect participants to the stories behind Asheville’s creative, inclusive approach to preparing and sharing meals,” says a press release from festival director Angel Postell. Organizers are seeking input from the public on possible programming and participants. Ideas, which should be “uniquely Asheville, with a collaborative element including local makers and an educational component,” can be submitted through Friday, Dec. 7, at or directly to Postell at


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About Paul Clark
Based in Asheville, NC, Paul Clark has been writing for newspapers, magazines and websites for more than 40 years. He is an award-winning journalist, writer and photographer. Some of his photography can be seen at Google his name to find stories and photos that have appeared in magazines and newspapers throughout the Southeast.

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