Small bites: White Duck Taco Shop heads south

EMPLOYEE-OWNED: After working for White Duck Taco Shop for several years, Ashley Clifford and her husband, Aaron Adams, will own and operate the company's latest restaurant, set to open in Hendersonville this spring. Photo by Thomas Calder

Since launching in 2011, White Duck Taco Shop has gradually branched out into new sections of Asheville, as well as surrounding cities and states. Come spring, co-founders Ben Mixson and Laura Reuss will roll out the company’s latest addition on Seventh Avenue in Hendersonville.

The couple will also celebrate a new milestone for the company: The Hendersonville location is the first employee-owned White Duck Taco Shop, run by husband-and-wife team Aaron Adams and Ashley Clifford. The process of preparing former managers for ownership, says Reuss, “is one of the greatest pleasures we have in this kind of business.”

In 2013, Adams began as kitchen manager at the former Roberts Street location in the River Arts District; Clifford joined the White Duck team in 2018 as the front-of-house manager at the restaurant’s Arden location.

Adams says fans of the shop can expect staples like the bacon and cheese, pork belly and Bangkok shrimp tacos at the new location. But he’s also working to create new recipes unique to the Hendersonville franchise. “Ben and Laura really give a lot of freedom to their owners to choose the menu,” he explains. “We have the freedom to choose what fits our environment.”

Adams is also excited at the prospect of featuring local Hendersonville breweries on tap at the new shop, which is near Triskelion Brewing Co., Southern Appalachian Brewery and Sanctuary Brewing Co.

Local response to the news, says Adams, has been warm and inviting. “Everybody has been superwelcoming and very open,” he explains. “It’s been great.”

The latest White Duck Taco is slated to open in spring 2020 at 500 Seventh Ave. To learn more, visit

Asheville Wine Focus Group

Metro Wines will host the next installment of its Asheville Wine Focus Group on Wednesday, Jan. 8. Participants will sample four wines during the event and determine whether or not the store should carry the product. “This is your chance to play wine shop owner for the night,” co-owner Gina Trippi says in a press release. “Help us decide which wines should be on our shelves.” The event is free to attend.

The Asheville Wine Focus Group runs 5:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 8, at Metro Wines, 169 Charlotte St. For more information, visit

Farm Burger 2020 party

Farm Burger Downtown Asheville will kick off the new decade on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 10-11, with a party featuring Highland Brewing Co. — both on tap and in recipes. “We are talking Gaelic-braised pork belly, oatmeal porter chili and all sorts of other fun menu items,” a recent online post reads. Imperial Cold Mountain will be among the selections on tap. Menu options will be a la carte with a full dinner package available.

The party starts at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 10, and runs through Saturday, Jan. 11, at Farm Burger Downtown Asheville, 10 Patton Ave. To learn more, visit

Tequila launch party

Mountain Madre Asheville has announced that on Wednesday, Jan. 15, it will host an event to celebrate the debut of its own tequila, a reposado hand-selected from El Tesoro, a tequila producer in Jalisco, Mexico. Guests will be able to sample a 1-ounce straight pour plus a signature cocktail. The gathering will also include live music, a discussion on the history of tequila and a taco bar, plus guests can grind their own spice and salt blend to take home using a traditional molcajete mortar and pestle. Tickets are $40 in advance, $50 the day of the event.

The launch runs 6-10 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15, at Mountain Madre Asheville, 13 Walnut St. For tickets, visit

Poultry butchery class

The Chop Shop Butchery will host a class Thursday, Jan. 16, on how to break down a whole chicken. Before the class, participants will have the chance to mix and mingle over local and house-made charcuterie and cheeses, along with a choice of beer or wine. Demonstrations and hands-on practice will follow. Students will take home cuts of chicken, notes and recipes. The Chop Shop Butchery sources its birds from Joyce Farms in Winston-Salem. Early-bird tickets are $75; early-bird VIP tickets are $105 and come with a pound of Chop Shop bacon and a Chop Shop T-shirt or hat. Sales end Wednesday, Jan. 8, at 11:59 p.m.

The class runs 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16 at The Chop Shop Butchery, 100 Charlotte St. For tickets, visit

Goodbye to The Bywater

The last day of business for Riverside Drive bar The Bywater was Jan. 5. Owner James Rogers, who opened the business in 2010, announced plans for the closure on Facebook on Jan. 2, stating that he intends to shift to using the property strictly as a venue for music festivals and special events. He also noted an interest in hosting a tailgate market. “I’ve been living my life by the water for almost 10 years with the blessings of meeting all y’all,” Rogers writes. “My gratitude forever shall it always be so. Cheers and thank you!”

For more details and to contact Rogers regarding events, visit The Bywater’s Facebook page.


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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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