Looking for some longform (or longerform) reads to cozy up with over the weekend? Here’s a round-up of our leading feature stories from the last seven days. Happy reading!
Gimme shelter: In wake of 10-year plan to end homelessness, local agencies regroup
By Max Hunt
On a frost-laden December morning, groups of homeless folks huddle outside the AHOPE Day Center on North Ann Street. Some engage in lively conversation; others wrap Christmas presents on a picnic table outside the facility. Still others sit off to one side, silently enjoying a cup of coffee and maybe a cigarette as they try to shake the previous evening’s cold from their bones.
“Darnell” came to Asheville two months ago to escape harassment by the authorities in Greenville, S.C., where he was living in his tent. “They like to round you up and kick you out into the county,” he says. “They’ll give you a few weeks, and if you’re not gone, you’re going to jail.”
Darnell is a jack-of-all-trades. “Carpentry, flooring, landscaping — I’ll do it all,” he says, adding that he’d like to find a steady job rather than working through temp agencies. “Anything that requires me to travel far won’t work: There’s no transportation.” (continue reading)
Fix the system: nonprofits urged to become policy advocates
By Virginia Daffron
When we think of helping others in need in our community, it’s natural to picture direct, practical actions, such as providing food, building houses, donating warm coats or mentoring young people. As Mother Teresa famously said, “Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.”
That notion was challenged, however, at the United Way of Asheville & Buncombe County’s 20th annual legislative briefing, held Dec. 8 on the UNC Asheville campus. Speakers argued for an increased focus on lobbying and advocacy to help shape policies affecting thousands who are in need. (continue reading)
Review: 27th Annual Warren Haynes Christmas Jam
By Bill Kopp
The Warren Haynes Christmas Jam returned to Asheville’s U.S. Cellular Center Saturday, Dec. 12, marking the annual concert’s 27th iteration. Tickets sold out in advance, and the audience enjoyed a performance lineup that mixed all-stars (Bruce Hornsby, Electric Hot Tuna) with up-and-coming artists (Dawes) and fan favorites (Blackberry Smoke).
Once again coming together to raise funds to support Habitat for Humanity, those involved with this year’s Christmas Jam rallied to make the evening a smoothly run event. Save for one break midway through the evening, during which crews readied the stage for the next act, the Jam was non-stop live music from prompt start (6:45 p.m. on the dot, as advertised) to its wee-hours finish. (continue reading)
Lex 18 hosts a nostalgic white Christmas
By Timothy Burkhardt
Stepping through the front door of Lex 18, a restaurant, supper club and moonshine bar, is like stepping out of the high-resolution digital grit of day-to-day life and into a sepia-toned reverie. Hardwood floors, floral-print wallpaper and maroon velvet curtains decorate the interior. Live jazz music lilts from an upright piano, and there is not a flat-screen television in sight.
“I think that’s why this restaurant is really charming,” says owner Georgia Malki. “We’re trying to be authentic about taking people back in time.” Malki and her husband, Alan Van de Kamp, are the imaginative team behind the restaurant and a series of vintage-themed events.
On Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 23 and 24, Lex 18 holds its White Christmas Live 1930 Radio Show, an evening of fine dining (a four-course dinner is included in the ticket price), live holiday music and the re-creation of actual radio plays and commercials from the Prohibition era and jazz age. Patrons are encouraged to arrive attired in fashions from the ’20s to the ’40s. (continue reading)
Waste not: Food Connection steers surplus toward hungry people’s plates
By Rachel Ingram
Feeding the homeless typically involves things like pasta, canned vegetables and the occasional dessert. But in Western North Carolina, shelters and other nonprofits are dishing up grilled salmon, coconut curry chicken, beef brisket, lamb sliders, fresh vegetables and whole grains.
The surplus food comes from weddings, banquets and other special events hosted at venues like Celine and Co. Catering, Chestnut, the Corner Kitchen, HomeGrown, the Lexington Avenue Brewery, Mamacita’s, Pack’s Tavern and The Cantina at Historic Biltmore Village.
Food Connection, a collaboration involving Dig Local, Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church and Asheville Taxi, is bridging the gap between restaurants and nonprofits. The program grew out of a 2014 meeting between Dig Local co-founder Flori Pate and Mary Evans, a marketing and special events coordinator at Pack’s Tavern. Evans, says Pate, expressed frustration about throwing away untouched food and asked her to come up with a solution. (continue reading)
King James Public House to close in January
By Jonathan Ammons
Despite nearly two years of booming business, Asheville eatery King James Public House is closing. Employees were notified last week that in 30 days the Charlotte Street restaurant would no longer be open. Investors are buying out part owner and Zambra co-owner Peter Slamp, King James Public House chef Nohe Weir-Villatoro told Xpress on Saturday. The last day will be Sunday, Jan. 10.
The investors include the building’s owner, Kirk Boone, the developer behind North Asheville’s Reynolds Village. With Slamp’s exit, Boone and the other partners brought onboard Jon Dressler, owner of Charlotte’s Dressler’s Restaurant andDogwood Southern Table & Bar, to act as a consultant and operator in the launch of a new enterprise to open in the space pending two to three months of extensive renovations of the kitchen and dining area. (continue reading)
Motorcycles and beer — a different kind of taproom
By Jesse Farthing
Hidden behind The Orange Peel, nestled close to all of the South Slope breweries, sits Moto Vicious — a little motorcycle repair shop with a secret. After dark, a neon sign lights up and proudly proclaims, “The bar is open.”
“I like motorcycles, and I like beer,” says owner Hunter Crombie when asked why he decided to open a taproom in his shop last month. Moto Vicious has been open as a motorcycle repair and restoration shop for a little over two years, but Crombie wanted to add the taproom from the start. “I just wasn’t sure it was something you could actually do,” he says. (continue reading)
Mission adds mechanical heart implant to its repertoire
By Clarke Morrison
With a new mechanical pump circulating blood through his body, Jim Hemphill can again play with his grandchildren and talk without straining to breathe.
He also has no pulse. There’s no rhythmic beating with his new ventricular assist device, just a continuous flow.
Hemphill is the first patient to have the device implanted in his chest at Mission Hospital. The technology saved his life, says Dr. Stephen Ely, the cardiovascular surgeon who performed the operation.
“It’s like rising from the ashes,” Ely says. The 69-year-old Hemphill “has become an entirely different person. He is able to get back to the kind of life that he was living well before all this happened and his heart began to fail. [Hemphill] was just a shadow of his former self, and he had gotten to the point where he couldn’t even carry on a conversation.”
Dr. Benjamin Trichon, a cardiologist and director of the heart-failure program at Mission, says the team has been working hard over the last several years to develop a comprehensive approach. Introducing new technology like the heart pump is a major step. (continue reading)