Major new music venues, restaurant planned for Asheville’s Riverside Drive

Over the next year, a seven-acre patch of land along the French Broad River in Asheville will be transformed into a major new entertainment, recreation, food and beer hub.

Plans call for a 2,500-person capacity outdoor music venue, a smaller indoor music hall and bar, and a “soul-Americana” restaurant. The sprawling grounds at 665 Riverside Drive will also feature three different river access points and an array of outdoor leisure sport opportunities. Developers are including a parking lot that can handle 400 to 450 cars.

“The whole property’s going to sew together,” says Danny McClinton, one of the project partners.

The music venue and special event portion of the property, called the Salvage Station, will hold a soft opening Saturday, Sept. 20,  hosting the official Zombie Float after-party, a benefit for the Western North Carolina Alliance. Although a permanent stage isn’t scheduled to be completed until next spring, Salvage Station will likely host a few more “big public events” through the end of the year using temporary staging, says McClinton. When complete, the outdoor venue will include a series of platforms and benches to “amphitheater it out,” he says.

This pebble walkway leads to a field that will hold a permanent outdoor stage. Newly mulched and manicured, the site will hold up to 2,500 concert-goers. Photo by Jake Frankel.
This pebble walkway leads to a field that will hold a permanent outdoor stage. Newly mulched and manicured, the site will hold up to 2,500 concert-goers. Photo by Jake Frankel.

Jessica Tomasin, an event producer and studio manager at Echo Mountain Recording, will be a key figure in helping determine the music programming, says McClinton, noting, “the venue will be open to all music scenes.”

Adjacent to the outdoor amphitheater, developers are renovating and expanding an existing building on the site into a 4,800-square-foot bar and indoor music venue.

The other end of the property to the north will be anchored by a new restaurant called El Camino, featuring a menu that “will sort of cater to everybody,” says McClinton. With the kitchen headed by Nate Kelly, owner of The Lowdown Food Truck, the restaurant will serve “vegetarian plates, salads, smoked and jerked meat, fish and tacos,” says McClinton. His business partners include Barley’s Taproom owner Jimi Rentz and Matt Ragaller, who says, “it will be hard for someone to go in there and not find something on the menu they like.”

As for the name, “The shape of the restaurant is sort of inspired by a 59 El Camino,” McClinton explains. “It’s a really cool-looking triangle shape, and it’s going to face out into the river. We’re going to have separate little areas where you can go and basically sit on the river. We’re going to have an order-out window so you can take food anywhere on the property.”


An El Camino currently sits at the site where a restaurant of the same name will be located.
An El Camino currently sits at the site where a restaurant of the same name will be located. Photo by Jake Frankel.

The restaurant bar and music venue bar will both focus on serving a large selection of canned beers, so as to avoid problems with broken glass littering the property. Bonfire pits and games like corn hole will be plentiful outside along the riverfront. And the site will welcome those who chose to travel there by boat or tube, as does the Bywater, a popular riverside bar just downstream.

Construction on the 4,700-square-foot restaurant is scheduled to begin in early December, with completion by April 2015.

The land was previously the site of Asheville Auto Parts. And its transformation from a scrap-metal yard has been in the works for years. “I was begging [the previous owners] for 15 years. I’ve always looked at this piece of land and thought, ‘That one day is going to be something,’ and here we are,” says McClinton.

With the River Arts District just to the south experiencing explosive growth, “The timing’s perfect,” he says. “This has been a real grassroots project. It’s basically a bunch of friends who have come together and made all of this happen. … It’s ever-evolving but we’re a go.”

The Salvage Station’s first public event (The Zombie Float after-party) will take place on Saturday, Sept. 20, from 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. with food trucks, local brews and music from DJ Molly Parti, Lyric and The Krektones. Admission is free.



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About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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16 thoughts on “Major new music venues, restaurant planned for Asheville’s Riverside Drive

  1. Keli

    Sounds great minus the parking. If your venue can hold 2500 people but cars for only 400-500, parking is going to an issue. I’m not sure you can count on that much carpooling or cycle riding.

  2. Hmmmm

    Sounds like somebody’s trying to cash in on already established businesses named the Bywater and Pisgah Brewing Co…

  3. notnegativenancy

    Being as how the Bywater doesnt have that kind of occupancy, that kind of parking an outdoor stage, a restaurant or 3 takeouts for river folk and Pisgah is not on a river, not even in Asheville and doesn’t have a restaurant either I am going to go ahead and say that they are cashing in on their own idea. Similar sure….but not the same and not a ripoff at all. I am looking forward to an outdoor venue of this size myself and can’t wait for it to open.

  4. SamHunt

    If a 2,500-capacity venue sells out, and let’s say 45 to 50% of those people arrived via car, yes the lot will be filled, but come on. Ever lived in an actual city? This is the River Arts District for crying out loud. There is parking within 0.25 to 0.5 miles all over the area. Yes, that is overflow into other business’ territories, but welcome to the real world! People do actually WALK to places they need to go to. So, take a bus or bike yourself there if you’re going to worry about parking spots.

  5. realist

    Another large music venue? 2500 there, 1000 at the Orange Peel, 1000 or so at New Mountain, then Pisgah, and then New Belgium and add on another 1500 or so for the smaller venues around. That’s not sustainable. The population here is simply not large enough to support music in all those places on any weekend. It’s not an exaggeration to say you would need 5000 – 10,000 people out to see live music on a regular basis to sustain that.


      Such negativity people… c’mon! Asheville will sustain and always has. This is exactly what we need. Have you negative folk been out past 9pm lately? Every single decent band packs their venue Monday through Sunday. Go find yourself something to do other than peeing on the music parade.

      • realist_who_know

        Not peeing. Just doing the math. Asheville has not had this many large venues at one time. It’s been the Orange Peel, Grey Eagle and and a few others.

        I’ve watched the entire town dry up with one big show in town. You’re thinking of the popular show you go to and not what will be 5 others that don’t have anyone show up.

        When have we had say, 5 big bands in town on one night?

  6. Salvage Station

    Always open to critics at Salvage Station! That’s what makes a business better and in this case aVenue new and exciting. As a native of Asheville and already in the business of producing shows we are very aware of what’s to come and sensitive to those already in the business. We have met with and heard from most other Venues and look forward to working together. We truly believe Ashevilles Music scene is about to be put on the map.

    • Gina Stone

      I visited Brad about two weeks ago and got a nice inside peep…. Phenomenal! I can’t wait!

    • Timo's House

      Hello, Mr. Salvage Station. My name is Timo’s House. Nice to meet you.

  7. Mikey Cummings

    Please, Please consult with touring production crew before building a stage so that you can make sure it accommodates the needs of touring artists. Too many stages, in this town, have rigging grids, sound, and lighting systems that are inadequate for bands and their crew to deliver to the fans the same show that fans in other regional venues get to experience. As someone with over 20 years in this industry, I can tell you with full confidence, a venue that can accommodate these needs would undoubtedly get preference with national booking agents.

  8. Eileen Tomkins

    I read the Mountain Xpress because my son’s young family lives in Asheville and I plan to be living there myself within a few months. I am somewhat familiar with Asheville and this article raises a few questions in my mind. Why does a 7 acre music and pub venue have to be on a river? The French Broad is a treasure. It needs even more protection than it gets now. These seven acres could be a jewel of passive recreation or a site for a much less damaging enterprise. A number of commentators here opine that this new music/pub/parking lot venue will drain the sustainability of existing music venues…..I don’t know with certainty if that is true, but it does suggest economic caution as well as environmental concern. The developers (“a bunch of friends”) seem a bit disingenuous calling this “a grassroots project,” suggesting that a true public interest has already been established for this property. I think doubt persists there. No one really considers a few friendly entrepreneurs to be a ” grassroots” organization. I would be the last one to try to put a stranglehold on doing business in Asheville…..Asheville has done nicely without me……….but I do think private developers of a river property might consider a project that will bring less environmental damage to everywhere the river meanders.

    • There goes the neighborhood....

      I completely agree with the above person’s concerns re: the impact this will have on the river’s health AND the way a group of friends with a bunch of money is conveniently calling this private enterprise a “grassroots project”. It sounds more like developers’ self interest to me–one that will also negatively impact the low income communities that run all along and on the other side of the river in ways that will be seen over the next couple of years. This is all part of local and outside developers’ and the city of Asheville’s expanding plan to gentrify these nearby low income neighborhoods. Another obvious crappy result of this oversized venue is that traffic will be terribly congested in this area and disturb those of us who actually LIVE and WORK close by. The only good thing i can see coming out of it is that maybe the cops will actually stop doing license checkpoints targetting people of color and low income folks who frequently use that stretch of road. Im sure they dont want to hurt business $$….. Then again, maybe they’ll put up even more checkpoints to catch the slew of drunk drivers that will be leaving this place. Making local nearby communities even more vulnerable. If you actually give a shit about music then invest your big bucks in REAL grassroots projects that will conserve your town’s natural beauties and foster a healthy community beyond more bars and americana food joints!!!

  9. Timo's House

    Excited to see the new spot! It sounds amazing! Sure wish it supplied 2500 new jobs.

  10. Bird Nerd

    As a fellow bird nerd and nature lover I am deeply concerned on the effect of the wildlife in this area. It is one of the only places people can visit right now that is guaranteed to be thriving with wildlife and QUIET. I’m not trying to be an old biddy but this is disturbing to me. I only see a lot of traffic, trash, and noise in these poor birds future, not to mention the peaceful atmosphere will disappear….I think this is the absolute worst location for something like this. Pick a spot where you won’t be ruining the natural beauty of the area. I guess nothing good lasts, le sigh…

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