chef-john-fleerMackensy Lunsford of the Asheville Citizen-Times reports that Chef John Fleer, a three-time James Beard Foundation Award finalist, plans to open a restaurant in downtown Asheville.

Most recently, the Pack Square building housed Bistro 1896, which closed in February. In 2004, Bistro 1896 more than doubled its space after taking over the adjacent La Caterina when that restaurant moved farther north. As it stands, the building has two kitchens and a lounge area, where the new entrance and a bar will be. A basement private dining room has Fleer thinking about future plans.

The food, said Fleer, will reflect the American South, a sense of simplicity and his travels abroad. Most importantly, he said, it will be accessible.

“It’s important to me and the place that it be democratic,” he said. “That it’s not superfancy. That it’s great food that reflects the place.”

Southern food will pervade the menu, he said, as will seasonal ingredients. Fleer has made a name for himself serving his own brand of seasonal cuisine with a sense of place.

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