When The Grey Eagle owners Sarah and Russ Keith pushed the pause button on live shows at their enduring Asheville music venue, they also pulled the plug on its popular eatery, The Grey Eagle Taqueria. “Without the music, we didn’t have that big pull for food, so it didn’t make sense to stay open, even for takeout.” Sarah explains.
That wasn’t the Keiths’ only operation upended by COVID-19. The couple had been in talks with BearWaters Brewing to bring the taqueria to Haywood County via the brewery’s original Canton and brand-new Maggie Valley locations. March 23 was the planned — and scuttled — date for the grand opening of the Maggie Valley site. With that effort temporarily on hold, the Keiths turned their focus back to Asheville and in mid-April instituted Taco Tuesdays, a curbside pickup option from the Clingman Avenue spot.
As Western North Carolina rolled into Phase 2 of its reopening plan, the new Maggie Valley BearWaters and The Grey Eagle Taqueria opened on May 29; a month later, the brewery reopened its historic Canton building on the Pigeon River. Though both BearWaters taprooms offer TGET’s signature tacos, Mexican street corn and fiambre salad, chefs Janelle Koelling and Maxwell Baker have tweaked the menus with dishes unique to each location.
“Maggie Valley has mussels steamed with beer and chipotles, and Canton has a beef and chorizo blend smash patty burger,” says Sarah. “We opened in Canton with an outdoor crawfish boil that was great. We loved doing little food events like oyster roasts and lobster dinners in Asheville with our brewery of the month, and we hope to do more there and bring them back to Asheville.”
The Grey Eagle is again providing a stage for musicians through live streams, and on those dates, the taqueria will sling tacos, nachos and burritos for takeout. “It’s kind of random for now,” Sarah acknowledges, recommending that people check thegreyeagle.com for updated performance schedules.
Madison County will soon get its taco on, too. The fourth location of The Grey Eagle Taqueria is slated to open in the still-under-construction Big Pillow Brewing in Hot Springs in late July or early August.