It’s never too late to get breakfast at the Sunflower Diner, but as chef/co-owner Hayette Bouras discovered soon after she opened her cheerful and cozy eatery last fall in the storefront corner of the West Village Market, 7:30 a.m. is a tad too early for West Asheville night owls. “We originally opened at 7:30, but we were not getting people at that hour,” she says. “We adjusted to 9 and stay open until 6, and that works. And we cook breakfast as long as we’re open, which is a diner-ish thing to do.”
Bouras’ global culinary immersion began in Saudi Arabia, where she grew up on a German compound. “My father is Arab, my mother is from North Carolina, but she was a very adventurous cook and made everything from scratch,” she explains.
When Bouras turned 18, she started cooking in restaurants. “They were always kind of my professional home base,” she says. “I never went to culinary school, but I have a very eclectic mass of on-the-job learning.”
She came to Asheville in 2004, studied “all kinds of things” at A-B Tech and UNC Asheville, including health and wellness; started her own catering business; taught at the nonprofit Green Opportunities; and managed the food service at West Village Market. When market owner Rosanne Kiely proposed Bouras turn a corner of the space into a diner, Bouras says, “I gave into it. I kept trying other things, but I’ve always gravitated back to the kitchen.”
Sunflower Diner’s plant-based menu is “a gentle way to start conversations on healthy eating,” she says. “I love that our customers get to see me and my line chef, Sarah Crongeyer, cook for them and then hand them their food. It’s a wonderful connection.”
Sunflower Diner, 771 Haywood Road. For details, look for Sunflower Diner on Facebook.