Each year, the East End/Valley Street Neighborhood and Stephens-Lee Alumni associations sponsor Soul Food Supper, a free dining event to honor Black History Month as well as celebrate the past, present and future of Asheville’s Black community.
“We try to keep the story of Black people in the city of Asheville and the story of our Black communities in the forefront,” says Renée White, president of the East End/Valley Street Neighborhood Association.
The latest iteration takes place at the Stephens-Lee Recreation Center parking lot Thursday, Feb. 24, 6-8 p.m. (or when food runs out). Due to ongoing COVID-19 health concerns, this year’s gathering will be a drive-thru event.
White recommends that folks arrive hungry. Menu items will include fried chicken, baked chicken, ham, turkey, green beans, cabbage, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, potato salad, desserts and sweet iced tea donated by local venues including Benne on Eagle, Little Pigs BBQ and J&S Cafeteria.
“This is going to be a real soul food dinner,” White proclaims.
“We think these types of events are important,” she continues. “They keep us together. It’s about legacy for Black people and for our Black neighborhoods. This is our heritage, this is where we came from, and this is where we make sure our story continues through these events that capture our history. That’s the reason we do this every year.”
Stephens-Lee Recreation Center is at 30 George Washington Carver Ave. For more information on the event, visit avl.mx/b7z. For further history on the East End/Valley Street neighborhood, visit avl.mx/b80.
Laissez les bons temps rouler
Mark your calendars and grab your beads. Hi-Wire Brewing is hosting a free, all-ages Mardi Gras party at its River Arts District Beer Garden on Saturday, Feb. 26, noon-3 p.m.
“Our goal is always to offer guests good beer and a good time,” says Shanda Crowe, Hi-Wire digital marketing and press coordinator. The upcoming celebration, she adds, will feature a special King Cake 10W-40 Imperial Stout release “that people were really hyped about last year.”
Offering a unique twist to a Mardi Gras tradition, Hi-Wire will hide 11 small, plastic babies among its 4-packs of King Cake 10W-40 Imperial Stout. Participants who find the babies will earn a chance to win a Hi-Wire gift card ranging from $10-$100.
Local band Funk’n Around will perform at the celebration. Additionally, king cake from Hendersonville’s Eaton Sweets will be available for purchase. The gathering will also feature face painting booths and a dog costume contest.
The Hi-Wire Brewing RAD Beer Garden is at 284 Lyman St. Costumes and beads are encouraged but not required.
On the rise in RAD
Mother, the brainchild of artisan baker Heidi Bass and wine maven Brett Watson, recently opened its first brick-and-mortar at 20 Artful Way, No. 102, in the River Arts District. At just under 200 square feet, the shop was founded with approachability and hospitality in mind. “Sourdough bread, and wine as well, has developed this niche of being high-end and exclusive,” says Bass. “But I want people to feel welcomed and to create an environment that isn’t fussy or precious.”
Following a reputation that, not unlike Mother’s sourdough, has steadily risen since breaking through in late 2020, Bass and Watson see their new location as the perfect landing spot. “People in the River Arts District appreciate what we do because they all do the same thing in terms of making a living off of hard work using natural, quality materials. We wanted to curate a space where we could present what we do but also create a gallery feel so that we remained true to the River Arts District,” says Watson.
Mother has taken that neighborhood mentality a step further and brought in the nearby artistic talent to fully flesh out its physical space. Local furniture maker Andrew Stack furnished shelving, Mawa Ceramics crafted the in-house coffee mugs, Iron Maiden Studios designed the signage, and Drake’s Fine Coffee Roasting provides all coffee.
“These folks are really important in making a less than 200-square-foot space feel like something special,” Bass says.
Mother is open Thursday-Monday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. For more information, visit avl.mx/atg.
Murasaki Asheville opens
Murasaki Asheville, a new Japanese restaurant, has opened in Arden at the site previously occupied by Pomodoros Café. Launched in late January, the restaurant is the latest venture from owner Putra Negara, who also owns several other Japanese restaurants in Johnson City, Tenn., Cherokee, N.C., and Spartanburg, S.C.
Murasaki is “really based on my childhood dreams,” says Negara. “I grew up in a poor family as the youngest of four, and I couldn’t afford to go to culinary school, but I had a big dream that one day I would open my own restaurant.”
Originally from Bali, Negara fell in love with Japanese cuisine as he gained experience working in kitchens. “I love the food, I love the culture,” he says.
Diners can expect the usual hibachi, sushi, sashimi and ramen bowl options traditionally found in most modern Japanese restaurants, as well as a number of rare and highly sought-after dishes.
“We have all kinds of fresh fish that most restaurants don’t carry, like madai snapper, shima aji, live scallops and even A5 Wagyu Kobe beef,” Negara says. “We’re also serving fresh bluefin tuna every day.”
In addition to the lunch and dinner options, Murasaki offers a full-service bar, including premium sakes and Japanese whiskeys.
Murasaki Asheville is at 200 Julian Lane, Suite 210, Arden.
Motor City munchies
Pi-Squared, Hendersonville’s go-to spot for Detroit-style pizza, will open its second WNC location in Arden on Tuesday, March 1. Established by Karen Ostrowski, a Detroit native, Pi-Squared’s first franchise expansion will be operated by Andria Lassiter, also originally from Detroit.
“[Karen and I] shared the common background of coming from Detroit and falling in love with the South,” Lassiter says. “When I learned of the opportunity to become their first franchisee, I jumped at the chance.”
Detroit-style pizza is known for its rectangular shape, as well as a thick, crispy crust that’s light and airy on the inside and caramelized with cheese. Additionally, its sauce is placed on top of the cheese and toppings, rather than underneath.
“Beyond amazing food, we hope to provide a family-friendly, community-focused business,” says Lassiter. “We want to help you celebrate the first night in a new home, a little league win or even mend a broken heart. We are on a mission to share the Pi-Love one slice at a time!”
Pi-Squared Arden is at 2615 Hendersonville Road. Visit avl.mx/b8 for more information.
Zia Taqueria reopens
Zia Taqueria recently reopened at 521 Haywood Road, after temporarily closing for upgrades and menu changes. Diners can expect an interior redesign that includes a refurbished and extended bar. Meanwhile, sweet and savory taco plates and Hickory Nut Gap carne adovada are among its new menu items.
For additional information, including store hours, visit avl.mx/b9c.
2022 vendor applications open
The Asheville Down Association recently opened applications for food vending during 2022 events, such as Downtown After 5, Asheville Oktoberfest, Community Concert Sunday and the city’s Independence Day celebration. Applicants have until 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 25 to submit; accepted vendors will be notified starting March 4.
For more information, visit avl.mx/b82.