Small Bites: The Mediterranean changes hands

COFFEE BREAK: Pete Apostolopoulos, center, sold The Med to Eli Scott, right, and partners but still shows up to see old friends. Photo by Paul Clark

After some 50 years in the restaurant business and 43 years at the Mediterranean Restaurant, owner Pete Apostolopoulos has called it quits. On Sept. 11, he sold the popular downtown diner to the owners of Foggy Mountain Brew Pub, who don’t plan on changing a thing.

“They’re young and energetic and will do a great job keeping it like it was,” Apostolopoulos says. “I hope that Asheville supports them like they supported me.”

The Med, as it’s commonly called, opened on College Street in 1975. Back then, downtown Asheville was “a place you wouldn’t be caught dead after 6 o’clock at night,” Apostolopoulos says. Despite having few large downtown businesses to draw patrons from, he seized an opportunity to buy out his partner and built a business by keeping things simple.

That formula — simple food well-prepared — is still popular among diners, even as Asheville experiences a restaurant renaissance. Apostolopoulos’ approach to food and to The Med in general was what attracted the owners of Foggy Mountain, which is nearby on Church Street.

The brewpub partners liked that The Med is “simple, cozy and quiet,” says Samantha Kronberg, who bought it with Chris Kronberg, Rachel Goodman and Eli Scott (Scott runs The Med). The partners started meeting with Apostolopoulos and his wife, Paula Apostolopoulos, last winter after hearing that Pete Apostolopoulos, approaching 70, was thinking about retiring. They liked the way he “paid attention to everything,” Samantha Kronberg says. “We’re four people filling one person’s shoes, and we’ve got our hands full.”

Scott, at the grill since mid-September, works up a few specials daily, and the new owners will see how those are selling before making any changes, Samantha Kronberg says. The old staff stayed on, helping maintain continuity. Also contributing is Apostolopoulos, who has lived in Asheville since he moved from Greece at age 17.

“My whole life was there,” he says of the restaurant. “I was a young man when I got there and got married after I bought the place and raised two wonderful children and educated my kids and lived the American dream, all because the people of Asheville supported me and my family.”

Though he no longer has to get up at 4 a.m., Apostolopoulos still goes to the restaurant, as much to catch up with friends as to be available if Scott needs advice. The new owners have returned the affection — a plaque at the end of the counter notes that the stool there is “Reserved for Pete Apostolopoulos.”

The Med, 57 College St., is open 6 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday and 6 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday.

School of HardLox

Craving corned beef on rye, homemade matzoh ball soup, potato knishes or just a good kosher hot dog? The 15th annual HardLox Jewish Food & Heritage Festival will serve those and more on Sunday, Oct. 14, at Pack Square. Hosted by Asheville’s Congregation Beth HaTephila and co-sponsored by the city of Asheville, the free festival is an immersion into the Jewish culture of Asheville and Western North Carolina. There will be music, singing and dancing, as well as plenty of food, including home-baked challah and treats made by the women of Beth HaTephila.

The HardLox Jewish Food & Heritage Festival is 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14, at Pack Square. Learn more at hardlox.com.

Inaugural Asheville Taco Takeover

You can help decide which taco in Asheville is the best. On Sunday, Oct. 14, All American Food Fights will present the inaugural Asheville Taco Takeover at the Salvage Station. Guests will be able to sample tacos from all over the area while sipping tequila cocktails and beer and listening to live music.

Asheville Taco Takeover is 1-5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14, at the Salvage Station, 468 Riverside Drive. Tickets are $8 advance, $12 door. For details, visit allamericanfoodfights.com/ashevilletacotakeover.

Food Connection heads east

For nearly four years, Asheville-founded nonprofit Food Connection has supplied unserved food from catered events to people who need it. Now the organization is getting free, healthy meals to people in Black Mountain and Swannanoa through a new division, Food Connection East. Since June, it has delivered more than 8,000 protein-rich meals to seven organizations that feed the hungry.

The initiative was started by Brenda Thornburg and Lorraine Edwards and was organized by Food Connection’s executive director, Flori Pate. Volunteers coordinated by Thornburg and Edwards run the program, which includes weekly pickups of dishes like grilled salmon and roasted pork from Ridgecrest Conference Center. Beneficiaries include Black Mountain Home for Children, Veterans Restoration Quarter in East Asheville and Bounty & Soul, which passes along fresh, free produce to clients in the Black Mountain area. Food donors include Celine and Company, Montreat Conference Center and Highland Farms.

Black Mountain Brewing and Black Mountain Ale House will host fundraisers for Food Connection East on Wednesday, Oct. 10, with 10 percent of food sales and $1 from each pint going directly to the nonprofit.

The Food Connection East fundraisers are 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10, at Black Mountain Brewing, 131 Broadway Ave., Black Mountain, and Black Mountain Ale House, 117 Cherry St., Black Mountain. 

New bottle shop comes to Brevard

The owners of Magpie Meat & Three restaurant in Brevard’s Lumberyard Arts District will open Wolfbrew Bottle Shop this fall. The shop, which will be in the alley at 36 Main St., will sell regional, national and global craft beer brands as well as beer to be consumed on-site. Wolfbrew Bottle Shop is the creation of Keavy McAbee and Lee Marchbanks, owners of the restaurant on King Street. McAbee is a craft beer enthusiast and manager of the craft beer program at Magpie. Marchbanks is a 12-year restaurant industry veteran who heads Magpie’s kitchen. Beer and pie pairings and local art and community events that have been held at Magpie may shift to Wolfbrew, the owners say.

Find updates on the opening date at wolfbrewbottleshop.com and @wolfbrewbrevard on Instagram.

Mother Grove cookbook party

The Mother Grove Goddess Temple will host a party Saturday, Oct. 13, (and another one on Saturday, Nov. 17) to celebrate the release of its new cookbook, Cooking with the Goddess. Attendees are encouraged to bring a dish to share. In addition to the potluck meal, there will be tarot readings and a jewelry raffle.

The first Mother Grove Cookbook Party will be at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, at Asheville Raven & Crone, 555 Merrimon Ave.

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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 paulgclark.smugmug.com. Google his name to find stories and photos that have appeared in magazines and newspapers throughout the Southeast.

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