Small bites: Well Played focuses on comfort food and board games

GAME ON: Cortland Mercer lounges inside Well Played. The Wall Street venue opens Saturday, March 25. Photo by Thomas Calder

Parcheesi, Cards Against Humanity, The Settlers of Catan and Clue may take center stage during Well Played’s Saturday, March 25, grand opening, but co-owner Cortland Mercer says the new Wall Street cafe’s beverages and comfort food also play starring roles. “We’re definitely priding ourselves on having a menu that is reminiscent of home and hearth,” he says.

Snack flights will be among these offerings, including classic shareable munchies such as locally made Poppy Popcorn, M&M’s, Reece’s Pieces and pretzels with dip. Flights include two snacks for $5 or three for $7.50.

Well Played will also feature what Mercer calls “a more sophisticated” spin on Lunchables snacks in the form of meat and cheese boards. Several varieties of grilled cheese sandwiches will be available as well: In addition to the classic Americano, there will be bacon-cheddar, The Southern (featuring pimento cheese), mac-and-cheese and a three-cheese blend.

And Mercer adds that he’s planning “a pretty robust dessert menu.” There will be ice cream and milkshakes featuring Ohio-based artisan company Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, and Mercer is working with baker Jill Wasilewski of Ivory Road Cafe & Kitchen to offer her scratch-made chocolate cake, banana pudding, tiramisu and chocolate chip cookies.

When it comes to beer options, Mercer describes Well Played as “brewery agnostic,” but he notes the taps will favor local flavors. For the launch, Catawba Brewing Co.’s Firewater IPA and Mothertrucker Pale Ale, Green Man Wayfarer, Bhramari Good Fight Sour, Asheville Brewing Co.’s Ninja Porter and PBR will be available on draft. Cans and bottles will include Highland Gaelic, Noble Cider and Shiva IPA, among others. Prices will range from $4-$5.50.

Gamers can also expect a “small, but smart” selection of red and white wines. Well Played has a full coffee program as well.

Between its menu and game options, Mercer envisions the new downtown establishment as a place where people can sit down and reconnect, not only with their inner child but with each other. “It’s a place that’s a little bit analog,” he says. “You sit down at a table and you have this game between you, and suddenly people start putting their cellphones down and start connecting with each other in a face-to-face, meaningful way.”

Well Played opens at 58 Wall St. on Saturday, March 25. Hours are Monday-Wednesday 2-10 p.m., Thursday-Friday 2 p.m.-1 a.m., Saturday 11 a.m.-1 a.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-10 p.m. All ages are welcome. For details, visit

For a limited time: LaZoom Room

LaZoom Tours has a new pickup and drop-off location: the LaZoom Room at 76 Biltmore Ave. The space next to the French Broad Food Co-op will serve as an “otherworldly transportation station,” according to a recent press release from LaZoom. Beer selections include Nantahala Brewing Co.’s Dirty Girl Blonde, New Belgium Brewing’s Citradelic, Asheville Brewing Co.’s Rocket Girl Lager and Catawba Brewing’s White Zombie, among others. Miss Vickie’s Potato Chips and locally made Poppy Popcorn are available to satisfy snack cravings, and the menu will also include wine and nonalcoholic beverages. LaZoom Room will be a “short-lived pop-up for your drinking and riding convenience,” reads the release. The building, which is owned by the FBFC, will be torn down in late 2017 as part of the co-op’s planned expansion. Non-LaZoom riders are also welcome to visit the room, where live piano music is offered daily.

The LaZoom Room is open Monday-Friday 2-10:30 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-10:30 p.m. and Sunday 1-6 p.m. at 76 Biltmore Ave. next to the French Broad Food Co-op. For details, visit

Character Breakfast with Curious George

Curious George will be at the Barnes & Noble Cafe on Saturday, March 25. The free event will offer children a chance to meet and take photographs with the character. Children’s breakfast combination specials will be available for $5 at the in-store cafe. Options include muffins, bagels and scones accompanied by a juice box. “It’s part of our outreach,” says Nicole Lowery, Barnes & Noble’s community business development manager. “We want to offer family-friendly, free activities for those in the Asheville area.”

Character breakfast with Curious George runs 10-10:45 a.m. Saturday, March 25 at Barnes & Noble Asheville Mall, 3 S. Tunnel Road. The event is free and open to the public. For details, visit

The Mediterranean Diet, Appalachian-Style

“I chose the name Vine Ripe Nutrition out of a passion for teaching others to eat whole, local foods,” says Denise Barratt in a recent press release. Barratt, a nutritionist and founder of Vine Ripe Nutrition, will join Andy Hale of the Asheville School of Wine to explore the health benefits of locally sourced foods and how these items fit into the plant-based Mediterranean diet. The menu will include simple appetizers and a salad made from seasonal ingredients. Wine pairings will accompany each plate.

The Mediterranean Diet, Appalachian-Style event runs 6-7 p.m. Thursday, March 30, at Metro Wines, 169 Charlotte St. Tickets are $20 and can be purchase at


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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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