The National dares to go nonlocal with beer selection

THE NATIONAL: Owner Aaron Williams hopes to open his new bar on Wall Street at the end of May. Photo by Pat Barcas

People walking along Wall Street in Asheville may notice the street has a quaint, old city feel to it. Aaron Williams recognized this when he chose a spot for his new bar venture, The National.

Williams hopes to open the bar in time for high tourist season in late May, featuring cocktails, an outdoor patio in the front, and a modern, lounge-inspired atmosphere.

He’s also daring to go against the grain in Asheville by uttering the word “nonlocal.”

Working with local distributors that deal with craft breweries that are outside the state, Williams, who secured the space at the end of last year, hopes to offer a selection of draft and packaged craft beer that may not be found in Asheville.

“It might set us apart a little bit. I know that people are doing local at every place, and we just want to offer some different stuff,” says Williams, who also noted the bar will have a good selection of craft cocktails and wine. “I’d like this to be a local hang out, just a cool place to be, something modern, comfortable and not stuffy.”

The name The National came from the Brooklyn-based band of the same name. When asked if the band knows about his business, Williams says he doubts it, but he’d love to host them at the bar.

The lounge will have an intimate space with a capacity for 80 people, including the patio. The inside still has a ways to go before opening, but work is progressing quickly. The custom bar and benches are being built, the second bathroom needs finishing, and the front patio needs perfecting.

INTIMATE LOUNGE: Williams says this side room will eventually become a lounge area.
INTIMATE LOUNGE: Williams says this side room will eventually become a lounge area.

“I’m learning new stuff daily,” says Williams of his new venture. His grand vision includes food service in the future and coffee and pastries to serve the nearby office workers at the Veach-Baley Federal Complex.

“There are a lot of people who work in this area. This would be the closest coffee shop to them, so we’re hoping for that in the future,” said Williams. “Just having this outside space here, this is why I was excited about this particular space.”




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About Pat Barcas
Pat is a photojournalist and writer who moved to Asheville in 2014. He previously worked for a labor and social rights advocacy newspaper in Chicago. Email him at Follow me @pbarcas

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2 thoughts on “The National dares to go nonlocal with beer selection

  1. yoohoo

    As a worker in the Federal Building who enjoys the coffee scene and who has seen more than a few failed coffee spots come and go downtown, my suggestions would be: beat the prices of Old World (not hard to do), beat the quality of Old World (not hard to do), offer a full coffee bar, and don’t penalize people for using credit/debit cards on sales under $5. Add all those up and you will prosper!

  2. Jason

    Although I’m local Breweries biggest fan; it saddens me to know that there are many phenomenal breweries that choose not to distribute here due to to much local competition…Ex. Tröegs Brewing Company! One could easily get this in any other part of NC, but like other breweries who distribute, they choose not to distribute to WNC.

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