Asheville’s downtown restaurant scene continues to astonish.
It’s a food scene that receives a lot of glowing national attention. Asheville eateries regularly highlighted by foodie faves from Eater.com to Bon Appetit magazine and just about everything in between. Local independent restaurants are led by amazingly creative chefs, two of whom (John Fleer of Rhubarb and Elliott Moss of Buxton Hall Barbecue) were just nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award in the Best Chefs Southeast category.
There’s a new wave of downtown restaurants in the works, driven by the booming construction of downtown hotels. I count at least seven new restaurants coming to downtown. It’s a little early to tell, but it appears that most, if not all, of the new restaurants will be independents rather than chains. Here’s a quick look.
-Two restaurants at The Arras and one restaurant/bar at the AC Hotel: These are packaged together because both hotel projects are led by John McKibbon of McKibbon Hospitality, and because McKibbon has already tapped Asheville restaurateurs Peter and Martha Pollay as his partners in opening up the restaurants/bars.
Read all the details about the McKibbon/Pollay partnership here. Key points: the AC Hotel, which is set to open later this year on the corner of College and Broadway, will spotlight a rooftop bar and restaurant. It’s called Capella on 9, and will serve up “thoughtfully curated menu of small plates, including a selection of European-inspired tapas,” according to a press release.
The Arras, which is the new name for the former BB&T office building that’s being remodeled, is scheduled to open in 2018 and will have two restaurants. The first will focus on Mediterranean-flavored breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes “with global influences offering house-made pastas and large shareable plates such as whole fish preparations, creating a camaraderie around the table.” It will have an open kitchen and an outdoor dining area located on Pack Square.
The concept for the second restaurant, which will open in the southeast corner of the building, hasn’t been announced yet.
-Two new restaurants at the Cambria Suites: This project, led by Asheville developer Tony Fraga of FIRC Group, is going up at the corner of Battery Park and Page avenues. It’s scheduled to open at some point later this year and will include a Cuban-themed restaurant/bar and a seafood restaurant.
The Asheville Citizen-Times’ Mackensy Lunsford recently reported that Hemmingway’s Cuba will have a food and bar, including a 4,000-square-foot patio, with a menu that pays homage to Havana. The other restaurant, dubbed Page Avenue Seafood, will be a dinner-only restaurant that will seat about 100 people, the newspaper reports.
-One new restaurant at The Parisian: Developers MRK Property Development recently won approval from the Asheville Planning & Zoning Commission for a 61-room boutique hotel on Patton Avenue that will reference Art Deco and French chateau designs found in downtown Asheville and the Biltmore Estate. Brett Krueger, a MRK Property Development official, told P&Z officials that the project would include an independent restaurant featuring French cuisine. Construction on the hotel hasn’t started yet, and developers still need to go before Asheville City Council, where they’ll seek the granting of air rights for their project.
-One new restaurant at the Asheville Foundry Inn: Construction crews are hard at work on this project at the corner of Eagle and South Market streets, behind the YMI Cultural Center. The project is by Curio Collection by Hilton and is expected to open by December.
Hilton is creating a 92-room boutique hotel in three existing, renovated buildings and two new buildings. The project “will be comprised of these five connected buildings including a 100-seat restaurant, 3,500 square foot lounge with a library and fireplaces, 3,600 square foot luxury spa and fitness center, and about 3,000 square feet of functional meeting and event space,” according to a press release. No details have been announced yet on the restaurant concept.