What’s new in food: Luminosa prepares to open inside The Flat Iron Hotel

LOCAL TOUCH: Executive chef and Asheville native Graham House will lead the kitchen at Luminosa, a new restaurant set to open this spring inside The Flat Iron Hotel. Photo courtesy of The Indigo Road Hospitality Group

by Oby Arnold 

The Flat Iron Hotel, which is set to open this spring, will feature Luminosa, a new restaurant headed by local chef Graham House. According to House, the 110-seat, full-service eatery includes a 14-foot bar, a live-fire grill and a pizza oven. The seasonal menu will feature modern Appalachian food with Italian flair,  and many of the restaurant’s breads, pastries and pastas will be made in-house. The space will also function as a bakery and cafe.

Luminosa is the centerpiece of the new hotel, which is the latest project by The Indigo Road Hospitality Group. House notes that the interiors are designed by Mey & Co. to integrate modern comfort with a Gilded Age aesthetic. The Flat Iron Hotel will also feature a rooftop restaurant and an underground speakeasy.

“Asheville is not necessarily a town that loves outsiders coming in and just trying to change things,” House says. “Indigo Road has really embraced the energy in the community. … We’re trying to make someplace where local people can feel good about coming downtown and having a good experience.”

House is an Asheville native who spent a few years in San Fransisco before returning to Buncombe County in 2016. He has previously served as the executive chef for Sovereign Remedies and the culinary director for The Chop Shop Butchery. His time out West, he says, helped shape the way he thinks about community and local farmers.

“I really dived into vegetarian food and the produce and bounty available out in San Francisco and Napa Valley,” House recalls. “It really inspired me to become closer with farmers. They make my job really easy and make it easy to be creative.”

House adds that he hosts an annual farmer appreciation dinner at the end of the main growing season. His latest event invited over 60 local growers to the table.

This sense of community is deeply imbued in Luminosa’s mission, House says. As an example, he points to Burke County-based potter Matt Hallyburton, who will supply the restaurant with handcrafted dinnerware.

“Sustainable and local dynamic kind of stuff is what we’re all about,” says House. “And we are trying to kind of boost up the local people as much as possible.”

The Flat Iron Hotel is at 20 Battery Park Ave. For more information, visit avl.mx/d9l

The Smokin’ Onion adds brick-and-mortar

The Smokin’ Onion will open its first brick-and-mortar later this month at 697 Haywood Road in West Asheville. The husband-and-wife team, Kiimia and Parker Schultz, introduced their plant-based comfort food concept as a food truck in September 2021. The couple see the new location, which previously housed The Trashy Vegan, as an opportunity to expand their menu and philanthropic efforts.

“We are excited about this next chapter for our business,” says Kiimia. “It’s definitely a dream come true, and we feel like the stepping-off point to growing our business.”

The location will include a 30-seat dining room and a new breakfast menu in addition to the food truck’s most popular items such as the Cluckin’ Good sandwich and The Town gyro.

“There’s a need for good vegan breakfast, and we’re excited about that,” Parker says. “We’re going to be doing some breakfast classics like pancakes, breakfast bowls and breakfast burritos, alongside our bestselling sandwiches.”

Along with serving customers, The Smokin’ Onion considers giving back a core part of its mission. Animal welfare and social justice organizations are top priorities for the restaurant’s owners.

“As we grow, we’ll be doing more of that,” says Kiimia. “We’ve raised money and donated money to help rescue animals in different sanctuaries, and we hope to continue to be able to give back to our community in different ways.”

The couple also look forward to hosting events. “Once we grow and get settled, we’ll be doing a lot more partnering with different nonprofit organizations to provide good food for people who are doing good things and for people who are in need.”

In addition to the brick-and-mortar, The Smokin’ Onion will continue to offer food truck and catering services.

For more information, including hours of operation, visit avl.mx/d9j.

New festival celebrates Asian culture

The inaugural Asheville Asian Cultural Festival is underway and runs through Sunday, Jan. 21. Organized by the Western North Carolina Asian American Pacific Islander Community, the festival includes several culinary-related events throughout the week, in addition to arts-related gatherings. Many of the ticketed events have sold out, but there’s still time to sign up and attend a few offerings.

On Friday, Jan. 19, Asia House is hosting an afternoon of storytelling over tea. Join Miles Cramer in a discussion about identity and Japanese tea culture. Cramer will explore his experience as a white man with Japanese ancestry and the complexities of his longing for a deeper connection to Japanese culture. The event takes place at 119 Coxe Ave. and begins at 10:45 a.m. Tickets are on a sliding scale.

And on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2-4 p.m., POP Bubble Tea will host an onigiri pop-up featuring home-cooked Japanese rice balls. The event aims to promote cultural exchange and to invite participants to experience the way onigiri appears across diverse cultural backgrounds. POP is at 640 Merrimon Ave.

For more information on these and other events, visit avl.mx/d9k

Eda Rhyne opens Weaverville cocktail venue

Eda Rhyne Distilling Co. recently launched Eda’s Hide-a-Way in Weaverville. The venue, which opened on Dec. 20, offers a unique blend of medicinal herbal liquors as well as a full menu of cocktails and brews.

Rett Murphy, co-owner of Eda Rhyne, says his commitment to Appalachian folk medicine dates back to his childhood and notes that some of the business’s ingredients include herbs grown from his farm in Burnsville. Together with co-owner Chris Bower, the award-winning Eda Rhyne has seen its distribution arm grow year after year. With its expansion into Weaverville, the owners say they hope to match the company’s wholesale success and create a comfortable atmosphere for locals and visitors alike.

“We are thrilled to bring Eda’s Hide-a-Way to the wonderful community of Weaverville,” Murphy says. “Our goal is to create a space where people can come together to enjoy exceptional spirits, good company and a range of entertainment options —  like live music, shuffleboard, pingpong and pool. We look forward to becoming a cherished part of the Weaverville community.”

Eda’s Hide-a -Way is at 1098 New Stock Road, Weaverville. Hours are Wednesday-Sunday, 3 p.m.-midnight. For more information, follow the venue on Instagram at @edas_hide_a_way.

Tapped out

Last month, Archetype Brewing announced the closure of its North Asheville and South Slope locations. In a press release, the brewery attributed the closures to “Rising costs, lower patronage and the city’s too-little-too-late response to the declining state of safety downtown.” Both venues closed on Dec. 30.

For the time being, owners Corina and Brad Casanova plan to maintain their flagship location in West Asheville, which they opened in 2017.

The brewery has frequently made headlines during its seven-year run for its array of Belgian- and American-style ales. Named 2021’s North Carolina Belgian Brewery of the Year, Archetype also holds gold medals for several of its core beer lineup; meanwhile, its Timely Surrender was named The Best Saison in The World by The Beer Connoisseur magazine. On the heels of this popularity, the Casanovas expanded their locations and distribution in early 2019 but struggled to keep up with the shifting consumer landscape brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I picked up everything and moved to Asheville for the opportunity to help Archetype open [Archetype Brewing + Kitchen on The South Slope],” said General Manager Donny Whitcomb, in the same press release. “The space, the food, the beer, the team we hired and Archetype’s commitment to quality are superior. The customers we have had left happy, posted great reviews, and loved their experience … but the volume hasn’t been there to sustain the costs.”

In the wake of the closure, Whitcomb has launched La Petite Kitchen, a catering company that serves Belgian and world-inspired cuisine.

“One of our priorities is to support the team members we have to let go,” said Brad Casanova in the press release. “We’ve found our team members to be, in our opinion, some of the best in this city.” Anyone with employment opportunities is encouraged to contact info@archetypebrewing.com.

The Casanovas remain hopeful that returning focus to their original location will save the company’s future and remind Asheville residents that they rely on their support.

“Business owners are proud people,” said Corina Casanova in the brewery’s press release. “Go out and support them before it’s too late. You may be surprised how many of our valued small businesses are silently suffering and in need of your support now more than ever.”

Archetype Brewing is at 265 Haywood Road. For more information, visit avl.mx/98p.


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