Southern Season, a gourmet grocery store based in Chapel Hill, is planning to open a new store in Asheville, according to rvanews.com. From the story, which focuses on the closure of its Richmond store:

Company officials say the move will allow Southern Season to focus on opening stores with smaller footprints. Two such stores, a 25,000-square-foot Southern Season to be located in Atlanta and a smaller Taste of Southern Season store in Biltmore Village near Asheville, North Carolina, were announced alongside the Richmond closure. Another “Taste” concept is planned for Charlottesville. The stores, between 4,000 and 7,000 square feet, will offer a smaller selection of the store’s best selling items. The company plans to open upwards of 30 of them in the next several years.

Southern Season’s flagship Chapel Hill store is 60,000 square feet; Richmond is around 53,000. Executives say the company is simply “following the (downward) trend in retail store size” in its decision to focus on locations of a smaller size.

Word on the street is that the store will move into the former Katuah Market space near Biltmore Village. Katuah Market closed a year ago, with a number of people citing a poor location as at least one reason why the market didn’t last.

Update: Southern Season is going in at 4 Swan St. in Biltmore Village.

Here’s more about Southern Season, from its website:

Southern Season is the premier destination for specialty food and gifts. Since its creation in 1975, Southern Season has been known for the breadth and quality of its gourmet foods, wines, housewares, and cookware. A food lover’s paradise with exciting and innovative products from vendors local to international, Southern Season offers over 70,000 items sold in-store and online. With a belief in southern hospitality and a passion for the art of entertaining, Southern Season prides itself upon great tasting and distinct products offered by a knowledgeable and friendly staff ready to help you find exactly what you’re looking for.

Known as a “culinary Mecca,” the store features specialty food products, chocolate and candy, wine & beer, coffee & tea, prepared foods, kitchen tools, home items, gifts and much more. Guests, however, don’t come to Southern Season solely for the food. A visit to the store often includes exclusive samplings from featured vendors, a hand-crafted java from the full service coffee & tea bar, an ice cream cone from the old-fashioned soda fountain, a glass of wine from full service wine & beer tasting bar, or a cooking class taught by a celebrity chef. Southern Season also has a full service indoor / outdoor restaurant showcasing a menu of creative, seasonal fare that highlights local ingredients also available in the store.

Southern Season has been featured in publications by Travel + Leisure, Southern Living, Gourmet Retailer, and on the Food Network. It was honored by the National Association for Specialty Food as its Outstanding Retailer of the Year and by Gourmet News with its Retail Achievement Award for its success in the area of food education. The late New York Times food critic Craig Claiborne once described Southern Season as “wall to wall and floor to ceiling…a visual and gustatory delight!”

11 Comments

  1. they didn’t last because there’s no foot traffic in Biltmore Village most of the year. Rent’s are really high, but not for any reason that benefits a tenant.

  2. Tom Youngblood says:

    Wrong location. Actually in the village, not across the rail tracks in Biltmore Station.

  3. Foothills Dweller says:

    I think it will be a great addition to Biltmore Village, especially with the housewares mecca Williams-Sonoma just around the corner.

  4. Stu, sadly they are not thinking about locals at all. It’s for tourists. I agree it’s an awful location for accessibility but they have 2 things Katuah didn’t have; name brand and proper management. Having been to the one in the Raleigh area, it’s pretty bad ass. It’s more of a Dean and Deluca’s style store which would kill it if they ever got there hands on some property downtown.

  5. Tourists coming out of Biltmore will love it and shop and eat there. Locals might eat there occasionly, but that access from Biltmore is not something one aspires to.

  6. There are areas of town that need grocery stores much more than Biltmore Village does. I think that was part of Katuah’s downfall. They built a grocery store where one wasn’t needed, and ignored areas like South Asheville, Downtown, River Arts District, West Asheville and other neighborhoods that could really use one. This “Taste of Southern Season” thing seems more like a vanity shop than a day-to-day grocery store, but still, I’d like to see some thought put into building grocery stores where people need them, rather than simply trying to pick a “good location,” which actually turned out to be a bad location for Katuah in their case. I hope that Southern Season doesn’t run into the same issues Katuah did in that location, which eventually boiled down to 1) Difficulty getting in and out of the parking lot. 2) Stiff competition from Wholefoods and Tunnel Road 3) Ultimately, the public lost interest.

  7. The Real World says:

    “Just what Asheville needs, another food store!”
    —- actually, that type of food store in the Biltmore Village area make sense. But, it sounds too small, really. A store needs to have enough of what I need for me to bother going there.

    • luther blissett says:

      It’s more like a southern-themed Sur La Table or Williams Sonoma, and there are actually not many of them in town on that smaller scale.

      If it’s going into the Katuah Market building, that’s still a pain to get into and out of from the rest of Biltmore Village, and even more of a pain coming from downtown.

  8. Let the gentrification continue!!

  9. Just what Asheville needs, another food store!

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