What’s new in food: Zero-waste market and café expands in Mars Hill

MOTHER-DAUGHTER BUSINESS: Michele Clark, center, and her partner/daughter Sydney Keating, left, show Clark's youngest daughter Sadie Clark the ropes in running The Wild Violet, their zero waste market in Mars Hill. Photo by Nolan Thompson

After several partial openings due to COVID-19, The Wild Violet in Mars Hill is preparing to invite guests into its entire main floor later this month. Operated by mother-and-daughter team, Michele Clark and Sydney Keating, the business is a zero-waste organic market and café.

“Years ago, I was on the board of the French Broad Food Co-op and have always been involved in the community around issues of health, social and environmental issues,” says Clark. “Opening this market was my chance to provide a service to this community for people to have easy access to products and information to support the health of their bodies and the planet.”

Launched in November 2020, the market and café began with online orders only. But in August, the owners opened the front portion of the store’s main level to the public. The summer event coincided with an expanded inventory and more to-go café items, including tea lattes and light fare of fresh-made organic and vegan soups, salads, gluten-free baked goods and their chia pudding of the day.

The renovation of the second floor of the building is nearing completion. Clark plans to offer it for community members to teach yoga and other wellness practices. Eventually, she will move the café to that floor, and the studio space will be relocated to the basement.

Whatever else might be added in the future, Clark is emphatic it will all be zero waste. “People can use our paper bags for bulk items, bring in their own clean containers to fill, or we have an assortment of glass jars to purchase to build your own home zero-waste pantry,” she says.

Among the hard-to-find bulk items The Wild Violet carries are organic sorghum grain and flour, einkorn grain and flour, and organic spouted brown rice flour.

“It’s really exciting to be part of the growth of Mars Hill and to do it with my daughter Sydney,” Clark continues. “My other daughter, Sadie, is just 10, but customers will see her helping out as well. We’re a woman-owned, woman-run business.”

The Wild Violet is at 4 N. Main St., Mars Hill. Hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; the café is open the same hours, Thursday-Saturday. For more information, visit avl.mx/alu.

Smoke signals

When architect Brent Campbell and some pals attended the huge barbecue competition that used to be staged in Tryon, they were struck by two things: Attendees could not sample the food of the competing teams, and there were a lot of rules.

“We decided to start our own where people could eat the food from the competitors and it wasn’t so serious,” Campbell explains. “We just wanted it to be fun.”

The Knuckle-Deep BBQ Fest fired up in 2007 with five proudly amateur, rule-rejecting, backyard barbecue teams. The field has grown every year since, with 17 colorfully named teams — Juicy Krusty Butts, Fine Swine and Pappy van Brisket among them – competing in five categories.

On Saturday, Oct. 23, teams will assemble and set up stations at the Wedge Brewery at Foundation. Attendees will be able to sink their teeth and knuckles into pork, chicken and beef the following day, from noon-5 p.m. Presiding over the judges’ bench is Chief Justice Jeff Miller, owner of Luella’s Bar-B-Que; meanwhile, attendees cast votes for the People’s Choice Award during the Sunday event.

There is no charge to attend but a $12 donation is strongly encouraged.

“We think $12 for a couple plates of barbecue is a fair price to pay,” Campbell says. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, proceeds from the event will go to a to-be-determined local breast cancer support group. Wedge beer will be available to purchase at the event.

Wedge Brewery at Foundation is at 5 Foundy St. For more information avl.mx/alv.

Meat up

The New York Butcher Shoppe in Arden is bringing back and juicing up its popular Wine Club dinners under the direction of new General Manager Paddy Collins and new head butcher Kilian Schosker. The first revamped Wine Dinner will take place Sunday, Oct. 24, 5-8 p.m., inside the store. Skyland Distributing will sample five seasonal wines from Talbot Wines Sleepy Hollow Vineyard, along with the shop’s four presentations of seafood, chicken, beef and pork. The wines tasted will be available to purchase at a discounted price.

“The events used to be monthly with a couple of wines and a couple of small bites,” says Collins. “We’re going to make the dinners bigger and quarterly and open them up to non-members.”

Join the wine club at the club link on the store’s website, and admission is included, or purchase tickets ($40/individual or $60/couple) by calling 828-303-2737.

New York Butcher Shoppe is at 200 Julian Shoals Drive, Arden. For more information, visit avl.mx/alw.

Starry, starry night

The Asheville Museum of Science will host its seventh annual Under the Stars fundraiser on Friday, Oct. 29, 7-10 p.m., with a VIP reception from 6-7 p.m. In addition to music, drinks and dinner, the evening will include a silent and live auction as well as plenty of stargazing from an open-air, heated pavilion at Smoky Park Supper Club.

Tickets are $50 per person or $75 for VIP early admission, which includes a sneak peak of the auction items and an AMOS swag bag. All proceeds will benefit the Asheville Museum of Science.

Smoky Park Supper Club is at 350 Riverside Drive. To purchase tickets, visit avl.mx/alx.

Cocktails for a cause

Asheville mixologists recently raised the bar to use their spirit-ual powers for the good of local nonprofits.

For all of October, Little Jumbo in North Asheville and The Golden Pineapple in West Asheville are crossing borders to collaborate on the Brandy Crusta, which Little Jumbo’s co-owner Chall Gray describes as a tasty, cognac-based sipper.

“We each came up with a variation,” Gray says. “Ours will be served at The Golden Pineapple all month, and their version at Little Jumbo.” Every Brandy Crusta sold through October will result in a $1 donation to Our VOICE, a local nonprofit which fights sexual violence and human trafficking.

Meanwhile, through Sunday, Oct. 31, Ukiah Japanese Steakhouse will donate a portion of proceeds from the sale of its Purple Rain — an exotic concoction featuring the Japanese distilled beverage Shōchū, dry curacao, lemon and egg whites — to Food Connection, a local nonprofit that serves fresh meals to those experiencing hunger.

Little Jumbo is at 241 Broadway; The Golden Pineapple is at 503 Haywood Road; Ukiah  Japanese Steakhouse is at 121 Biltmore Ave. 

Pup you up

Dogs and their humans are invited to tour the businesses of Hendersonville’s Historic Seventh Avenue District at this years’s Pup Crawl to benefit the Blue Ridge Humane Society. Taking place Saturday, Oct. 23, noon-5 p.m., each venue will feature a pet giveaway or treat and an interactive activity such as a paw print painting. Passports, referred to as “pupports,” will be stamped at each spot; when the crawl is completed, each “pupport” will be entered into a grand prize drawing. Pupports can be purchased on site for $20 on the day of the crawl.

For more information, visit avl.mx/alz.

Contrada e aperto

Cucina 24’s satellite bar and café, Contrada, has reopened with a fresh new look, a total of 24 seats inside the chic space and on the built-out, enclosed sidewalk café. Contrada serves Peroni Italian beer, wine, cocktails on tap, pizza baked in Cucina’s wood-fired oven, antipasti and gelato, Friday-Sunday, 2-9 p.m.  Becky Bronson and Spencer Schultz, owners of Bad Art Beverage Co., will oversee the bar program, with Schultz serving as general manager.

Contrada is at 28 Wall Street. Learn more at avl.mx/aly.


The Asheville chapter of Ben’s Friends — the national support group for members of the hospitality industry — has moved its meeting site to Avenue M, where it will be hosted by the restaurant’s chef and chapter head Andrew McLeod. Meetings will take place every Monday at 10 a.m.

Avenue M 791 is at Merrimon Ave. 


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About Kay West
Kay West was a freelance journalist in Nashville for more than 30 years, contributing writer for the Nashville Scene, StyleBlueprint Nashville, Nashville correspondent for People magazine, author of five books and mother of two happily launched grown-up kids. To kick off 2019 she put Tennessee in her rear view mirror, drove into the mountains of WNC, settled in West Asheville and appreciates that writing offers the opportunity to explore and learn her new home. She looks forward to hiking trails, biking greenways, canoeing rivers, sampling local beer and cheering the Asheville Tourists.

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