After many months of hard work and waiting, downtown’s THE BLOCK off biltmore (aka TBob) is ready to welcome guests. With the tagline “thirsty for diversity,” the all-vegan bar is inviting Ashevilleans to spend Thanksgiving at its historic locale, all in the spirit of social justice and solidarity.
Located in downtown’s iconic YMI building, the unique new watering hole and venue is hosting a soul food buffet on Thanksgiving Day in support of two causes: Full Circle Farm Sanctuary and Western Carolina Rescue Ministry.
The holiday menu (which is all vegan and features gluten-free selections) is being whipped up by TBob’s in-house chef Eboné Graham, who previously ran Soul Vegetarian in Washington, D.C., for 10 years and spent 10 years at A Taste of Life in Los Angeles.
The lineup includes homemade seitan roast stuffed with cornbread dressing, vegan duck, mac and “cheese,” candied yams, homemade cranberry sauce and chocolate-sweet potato pie.
Earlier in the day, the TBob team will donate food to Western Carolina Rescue Ministry, an organization that aids the region’s homeless and underserved communities, and 50 percent of the evening’s proceeds will benefit Full Circle Farm Sanctuary, a Burnsville nonprofit organization that houses rescued chickens, ducks, pigs, goats and a turkey named Xander.
“We chose to partner with Full Circle Farm Sanctuary because of the work they’re doing to help rescued farm animals and to bring awareness to the fact that a vegan diet is a peaceful, compassionate and cruelty-free way of celebrating Thanksgiving,” says THE BLOCK owner Cam MacQueen. “In the spirit of giving thanks and being grateful, it’s helping the people, the animals and the planet.”
Located at the corner of Eagle and Market streets downtown, the YMI building (built in 1893) is one of the oldest African-American institutions in the U.S. Originally built for the young men working on the construction of the Biltmore Estate, it once featured a gym, doctor’s office, drugstore, swimming pool and more.
TBob is furnished with reclaimed wood and other repurposed items and antiques salvaged from local sites, including wood from a Biltmore Estate sycamore and a stained glass window from a local church. The business will use cruelty-free, biodegradable cleaning products and unbleached paper as well as implementing other efforts that support a commitment to the lowest possible environmental footprint.
MacQueen and crew plan to host a wide array of events, from poetry slams to concerts to art shows to documentary screenings and more. Also part of the in-house team are general manager Chad Battles, former owner of The Bywater, and bar manager Danielle Hogan, who has managed bars from coast to coast.
In addition to food, the Thanksgiving day soirée will feature Harvey Diamond on piano and a cash bar. “We’re encouraging people, even if they have plans for Thanksgiving, to come have an after-dinner drink, just relax and be in a comfortable place and possibly meet new friends,” says MacQueen.
The Thanksgiving Day vegan soul food buffet starts at 5 p.m. Seating is limited, and RSVP is required by Monday, Nov. 23. To reserve a seat, email email@example.com or call 367-1620.
As part of its soft opening, TBob is also hosting open house events with live music on Tuesday, Nov. 24, and Wednesday, Nov. 25, starting at 5 p.m. each evening. The public is encouraged to come by on those days as well.