Jessamine Stone and Steven Grigsby know the importance of coffee — they met in 2009 working the night shift as EMTs in Columbia, S.C. Over the last 15 years, the couple have also worked on and off in the coffee industry.
With the Sept. 10 opening of their coffee shop Gallivant in Woodfin, the pair now have an official space to share their passion. “We’ve always wanted to have our own place,” says Stone. “Last year, when we saw this spot was available, we decided it was now or never.”
The couple’s now-or-never timeline began to feel like the latter after they signed the lease in November 2020 with the intent of opening in early 2021. But Stone says the delays gave them time to fine-tune their plans and source the sustainable materials that support one of the core tenets of Gallivant.
“We were hellbent on sustainability,” she says. “We did not want to bring anything in that could not be composted, so the delay gave us more time to source things truer to our plan.”
Along with sourcing reusable materials, the couple hand-roast all their beans in a custom-built structure on their homestead in Candler. “We go beyond fair trade and direct trade to be sure we know the farmer and importer,” Stone explains. “We tend to buy more natural-processed and honey-processed coffee because it uses less water to process and gives farmers in remote places like Ethiopia a chance to participate.”
Natural processing, she adds, imparts unique and standout flavors to the beans.
One of Stone’s favorite menu items is The Forager. The beverage combines wild-foraged pine with crushed flowers, a hint of maple, two shots of Four & Twenty Blackbirds espresso roast with steamed oat milk, then topped with pine sugar and spice.
“It’s Asheville in a cup,” says Stone with a laugh. “It tastes like the mountains.”
Like its beverages, Gallivant’s in-house, made-from-scratch baked goods and granolas are plant-based, as well.
Between its flavors, business name and aesthetic, Gallivant’s owners hope to encourage people to explore the beauty of Western North Carolina and Asheville, Stone’s hometown. Whimsical animal illustrations adorn the shop’s bags and boxes, as well as the ceramic, custom-made mugs by Salveterra Pottery in Weaverville.
“Steven and I wanted to capture images of the deer we love to watch from our backyard,” Stone says. “Then we added crows, and it has evolved into full-blown forest scenes.”
In addition to the coffeehouse, the couple have also leased the space that shares a wall with Gallivant and is currently building it out to be Prelude, a local provisions market they hope to open in late fall.
Gallivant is at 126 Elkwood Ave., Suite 102, Woodfin. To learn more, visit avl.mx/ajg.
In 1989, Federico Marquez opened El Chapala Mexican restaurant in Candler, still in operation on Smokey Park Highway. The acorns have not fallen far from the patriarchal tree — all five of his sons and one daughter are in the restaurant business, branching out with a trio of Ay Caramba restaurants. The first opened in East Ashville in 2011, the second in Leicester in 2014, and in early September, the third — but likely not the final — Ay Caramba opened on Merrimon Avenue in North Asheville.
“The Merrimon menu takes things from the other restaurants,” says Aaron Marquez, who is running it with brother Christian Marquez. “Our specialty here is the birria tacos, which started in the Leicester store and has just skyrocketed. It’s basically pulled pork piled on a tortilla soaked in the broth from the spicy red chili sauce the meat is cooked in, so they’ve got a red tint. They’re served with a side of the same sauce to dip into. They’re our most popular dish.”
Ay Caramba is at 853 Merrimon Ave. For more information, including store hours, visit avl.mx/prw9.
With a third Early Girl Eatery set to open in Asheville later this year on Hendersonville Road and a fourth location planned for Charlotte in 2022, husband-and-wife owners, Jesson and Cristina Gil recently hired Hassan Aberchah as executive chef of all present and future locations.
“Chef Hassan was one of about 100 chefs who applied for the position, but one of only two as committed to farm-to-table as Cristina and I are,” says Jesson Gil. “Comfort food with a lot of fried items has worked for us, but we have tasked him with taking Early Girl in a fresher direction, with vibrant flavors.”
Along with Southern dishes, Aberchah will work in recipes from his native country Morocco, as well as French, Spanish and Italian cuisines. Currently, the chef is testing plates and cooking specials for the two existing Asheville stores, including a black lentil panzanella salad using biscuit croutons.
Early Girl South Asheville will be at 1378 Hendersonville Road. Learn more at avl.mx/ajh.
When Alabama buddies Ben Colvin and Jacob Baumann began making ginger beer years ago, their short-term goal was to make a mixer for the bourbon they enjoyed that did not lean sweet. Once they turned the hobby into a business — Devil’s Foot Beverage Co. launched in Asheville in 2017 — a long-term dream was to roll their product to sweet home Alabama.
The mission was accomplished in September, when Devil’s Foot entered a partnership with AlaBev distributors that will see the 10 flavors now in their nonalcoholic repertoire available in bars, restaurants and markets throughout the entire state. “It’s always been a goal to have Devil’s Foot sold in Alabama,” Colvin says.
Though Asheville has rightly earned the tag of Beer City, the partners believed there was a niche for nonalcoholic craft beverages in a town devoted to craft beer. “We found we could complement the craft beer industry by being craft ourselves,” says Colvin. “People who are avoiding alcohol don’t want to be in a crowd enjoying craft beer, holding a water or ordering a Mountain Dew. They want something bubbly that feels celebratory, is healthy and tastes delicious, and we felt we could do that.”
Colvin says Devil’s Foot has grown every month since it launched and is currently pumping out 12,000 cans of product a week to 300-plus accounts through North and South Carolina. “We brew out of Woodfin, where we have 3,000 square feet of storage and only about 1,500 for brewing, so we’re planning a big expansion the first quarter of 2022.”
For a menu of Devil’s Foot flavors and where they are available, visit avl.mx/ajm.
Chef J Chong has developed a devoted following for the packaged vegan and pork dumplings she makes and sells at area tailgate markets. Along with her products, she sends buyers off with cooking directions, encouraging words and tips for serving.
On Tuesday, Oct. 19, Chong will be serving some of these items during her Cantonese Pop-Up dinner at Bottle Riot, 37 Paynes Way, in the River Arts District.
“It’s a small kitchen, so I have to be mindful of what I can do in there, but I will have spicy Szechuan noodles and a couple of other Cantonese specialties,” Chong says. “Depending on how it goes, I’d love to be there on a consistent basis.”
Cantonese Pop-Up by J Chong begins at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 19. Learn more at avl.mx/ajo.
Food policy group meets
Founded in 2011, the Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council was formed to identify, propose and advocate for policies, financial appropriations and innovative solutions to improve and protect local food systems to advance economic development, social justice, environmental sustainability and community resilience. That’s a lot to digest, so on Tuesday, Oct. 19, the ABFPC invites community members to participate in the 2021 virtual meeting of the whole to learn more about current projects, ways to get involved and how to join or start ABFPC working groups.
“At the meeting of the whole, we look forward to sharing updates on these initiatives with partners and stakeholders as well as providing information about how to participate in the council’s activities,” says ABFPC coordinator Gina Smith.
The meeting will take place from 5:30-7 p.m. Register by Friday, Oct. 15, at avl.mx/ak0.