Longtime locals who fondly remember West Asheville’s Lucky Otter restaurant — which closed in 2017 after owner Roland Knoll passed away — may be feeling lucky again. Former General Manager Jonas Cole and his business partners Casey Cole and Peggy Pinter, also former employees, are opening a food truck in homage to the beloved eatery.
Lucky’s Asheville Food will start serving on Thursday, Sept. 28, 3-8 p.m., at the River Arts District’s Wedge Brewing Co.
A grand opening event will follow on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 29 and 30, 5-9 p.m., at Haiku I Do in Biltmore Village. The celebration will include live music from Joshua Carpenter and Julie Odell on Friday, with DJ Shortstop spinning tunes on Saturday.
The partners are also opening Lucky’s Asheville Food stand at Harrah’s Cherokee Center — Asheville, available at certain events. Lucky’s will be the only locally run permanent vendor in the center.
The menu for both the food truck and the food stand is “Lucky Otter-inspired,” says Cole. Appetizers of chips, salsas and dips, a vegetarian chili and soup of the day, and wraps and bowls “from around the world” will make up the core of the menu, with daily free housemade hot sauces. Ingredients will be locally sourced as much as possible, a concept that was important to Knoll and remains a priority for Lucky Asheville Food’s team.
“He was a great guy and cared as well as gave a lot to the community,” says Pinter of Knoll. “It’s really cool to be able to carry on his inspiration.
“And this also happens to be the Year of the Rabbit, and Lucky the rabbit is our mascot.”
Wedge Brewing Co. is at 37 Paynes Way, Haiku I Do is at 26 Sweeten Creek Road and Harrah’s Cherokee Center — Asheville is at 87 Haywood St. For more information, visit avl.mx/d0s.
A new brewpub
On Sept. 13, Salt Face Mule Brewing Co. opened. The family-friendly brewpub features lagers and ales, as well as a menu of “Appalachian pub grub” and activities including a 36-hole miniature golf course and a remote-controlled car track.
The pub, which is part of the Twisted Laurel Restaurant Group, got its name from managing member Anthony Randolph‘s longtime friend from Yancey County, Sam Jones.
“He has a saying for just about any occasion, but our all-time favorite was when he was thirsty,” says Randolph in a press release. “On a sweltering hot day, somewhere along the way, we would almost always hear him say, “I’m thirstier than a salt-faced mule.’ When he said it, we would always laugh, and after hearing it numerous times, we told him that we would use that saying somehow one day.”
Over 30 years later, Randolph is able to honor his word.
The brewpub opens at 11 a.m. daily.
Salt Face Mule Brewing Co. is at 450 Weaverville Highway. For more information, visit avl.mx/d0n.
Celebrating mid-autumn with bubble tea
From Friday, Sept. 29-Sunday, Oct. 1, North Asheville’s Pop Bubble Tea will give a nod to one of China’s biggest holidays, the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Mooncake or Moon Festival.
In celebration, the beverage counter will offer a free housemade cheese cap — a creamy, cheesy and slightly salty topping — in a moon and rabbit pattern for every bubble tea ordered. In addition, two beverages will return for the fall season: pumpkin spice milk tea made with Taiwanese black tea leaf, pumpkin spice, whole or oat milk, pure pumpkin puree and choice of topping; and pumpkin spice chai milk tea made with the same black tea, local AppalaChai!, pumpkin spice, whole or oat milk and choice of topping.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is held annually on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese calendar and is traditionally celebrated with family reunions, mooncakes, parades and lanterns.
“To honor Asian culture is one of Pop’s core values,” says co-owner Eva Peterson, who is originally from Hong Kong. “We really want to let people enjoy the authentic drinks, but also learn more about the Asian community.”
Pop Bubble Tea is at 640 Merrimon Ave. For more information, visit avl.mx/bk5.
Eating clean in South Asheville
South Asheville’s Clean Eatz celebrated its grand reopening under new ownership on Sept. 25. The health food restaurant franchise, which specializes in chef-inspired, nutritionist-approved meals, now offers the option of a dine-in experience, as well as weekly meal plans, grab-and-go options and catering.
The new owner and operator, Neal Gartrell, is an Army veteran who has worked with Clean Eatz for seven years and owns four other locations. Since taking over ownership, Gattrell has provided healthy lunches for local students on Tuesdays, as well as established partnerships with area gyms.
“Clean Eatz offers every customer who steps through its doors the promise: ‘We Change Livez,’” says Gartrell in a press release. “I want to make sure people have access to healthy food that fuels their bodies with the vitamins and nutrients that can be hard to find on their own.”
Clean Eatz is at 1950 Hendersonville Road. For more information, visit avl.mx/d0t.
Fundraiser for Meher with Chef Meherwan
Chef Meherwan Irani of Chai Pani Asheville will host a buffet dinner to raise money for the Meher Archive Collective, at Land of the Sky United Church of Christ on Friday, Sept. 29, at 6 p.m.
The James Beard Award winner and “Chief Chaiwalla” of Chai Pani Restaurant Group will talk about his journey into the culinary arts and about his recent experience creating a luncheon for Vice President Kamala Harris and the Indian prime minister in Washington, D.C. It was the first completely vegetarian official meal served by the State Department.
The Meher Archive Collective is a center that preserves the records of Indian spiritual master Meher Baba. Funds are being raised to restore the property at 53 Red Oak School Road, Weaverille, which includes a 1928 school building.
Tickets are $50, and a cash bar will also be available.
Land of the Sky United Church of Christ is at 15 Overbrook Place. For more information, visit avl.mx/xmasjbp.
Cocktails in a can
The Mule at Devil’s Foot Beverage Co. will release a line of ready-to-drink canned cocktails, Friend of the Devil, at a celebration on Friday, Sept. 29, at 5 p.m. The event will include live music, small bites and two cocktails featuring Carolina-made spirits: Carolina Mule and Vodka Lemonade.
The lemonade is made with Charleston’s Nippitaty Botanica Vodka, organic lemons, organic cane sugar and honey, and is 7.6% ABV. The mule is made with Asheville Vodka by Cultivated Cocktails, Devil’s Foot’s Fuego Ginger Beer, organic limes, organic sugar and honey, and is 8% ABV.
“We started Devil’s Foot with the goal of creating a nonalcoholic craft beverage that we could be really proud of — something you’d want to drink right alongside the craft beers we’ve come to know and love as Asheville-based brewers,” says Jacob Baumann, vice president, lead designer and co-founder of Devil’s Foot and Friend of the Devil, in a press release. “We’ve worked with local bars and restaurants to use our ginger beer and lemonade as the base of their cocktails on tap for years now, and it’s time to share the love.”
The Mule at Devil’s Foot Beverage Co. is at 131 Sweeten Creek Road. For more information, visit avl.mx/d0o.
Editor’s note: This story was updated on Sept. 27. Salt Face Mule Brewing Co. is located in Asheville.