-Masterton passes: Laurey Masterton, one of the brightest, longest-serving personalities on Asheville’s food scene, died in February 2014 after a long battle with cancer. Masterton, owner of Laurey’s on Biltmore Avenue, was known as a farm-to-table pioneer, an avid cyclist, a beekeeper, a cookbook author and an all-around inspiration known for her “Don’t Postpone Joy” mantra. She is sorely missed.
-Food trucks roll on: Asheville’s food truck scene rolled on, although the road was bumpy for several. A number of food trucks closed down, for various reasons. Asheville’s first food truck lot, on Coxe Avenue, came under new management and a pledge to add new amenities next year. Other food truck lots may also be in the offing.
-Ethiopian finally opens: For years, Asheville diners have begged for an Ethiopian restaurant. They were finally satiated (in just the past couple of weeks) with the opening of Addissae at 48 Commerce Street. It is the work of Neeraj Kebede and his wife Vicki Schomer. Addissae
-Haywood Road emerges as food corridor: Haywood Road in West Asheville really came into its own as a great corridor for exploring Asheville’s local independent restaurants. Check out what opened on Haywood Road in 2014: Asheville Sandwich Shop, Nine Mile West, Buffalo Nickel, King Daddy’s Chicken and Waffles, Hole, and Odd’s Cafe. The eateries add momentum to West Asheville, which more and more is becoming an entertainment alternative to downtown Asheville’s central business district.
-Asheville restaurants expand into new markets: As Asheville’s food scene continues to mature, several of its restaurants are looking beyond the city’s limits. 2014 saw aggressive growth for homegrown Tupelo Honey to new markets across the Southeast. White Duck Taco and Biscuit Head also either announced plans to open, or opened, new restaurants in Southeastern cities.
-Sky City BBQ opens, closes: One of the most-discussed Ashvegas restaurant stories of 2014 was the saga of Sky City BBQ, which opened in the space adjacent to the Haywood Quick Stop on Haywood Road in spring. The food got rave reviews from visitors. But the restaurant didn’t last long. It’s owner, Kenneth Carl Terry, was arrested on larceny charges on a fugitive warrant out of Tennessee. At the time of his July arrest, Terry also faced prostitution charges in South Carolina.
-Grocery store explosion continues: The options for grocery shopping continued to expand across Asheville in 2014. The Texas-based organic grocer Whole Foods opened a massive new grocery store on Tunnel Road. Katuah Market, Asheville’s locally owned natural grocer, opened near Biltmore Village. A new Fresh Market opened on Hendersonville Road. And work got underway on the big new Publix grocery store on Hendersonville Road, a store set to open in 2015. The new stores follow 2013, when Trader Joe’s and Harris Teeter opened next door to one another on Merrimon Avenue.
-Katie Button’s star shines: No other Asheville chef had a year like Chef Katie Button. Button signed on to write a tapas cookbook, The Curate Cookbook. She and her team opened a second Asheville eatery/nightspot called Nightbell. She traveled around the world to host The World’s Best Chefs television show. She was nominated for a James Beard award (again). And Button announced that she’s having a baby.
-Stu on the scene: You either love him or you hate him – there really doesn’t appear to be any middle ground to the reactions that Ashvegas food writer Stu Helm’s writing triggered in 2014, the first full year of Helm writing for Ashvegas (He started in October 2013). With his distinctive writing voice (yes, he’s fond of the four-letter word) and his fearlessness in calling it like he saw it, Helm’s posts were some of the most-commented on posts of the year. Here’s my recap of How Stu Helm Took a Bite Out of the Asheville Food Scene this past year, which comes with a great Stewart O’Shields photo of Helm posting with a group of Asheville’s top chefs.
Also notable in 2014: Circle in the Square on Biltmore Avenue closes; construction started on Smoky Park Supper Club, Asheville’s first restaurant built from shipping containers; Chiesa, an Italian restaurant, opens in Montford; Chipotle opened on Hendersonville Road in south Asheville; Chick-fil-A opened on Merrimon Avenue in north Asheville, right across from vegan Plant restaurant; the ever-popular French Broad Chocolate Lounge moves from south Lexington Avenue to Pack Square; one word: Biscuitgate; Ashvegas was on a reality TV cooking show; Twisted Laurel opens in downtown Weaverville and downtown Asheville; The Green Room on Church Street morphs into Foggy Mountain BrewPub; Vortex Doughnuts finally opens on Asheville’s South Slope; Hole doughnut shop opens on Haywood Road; The Hop expands with new production facility and tasting room; the old Three Brothers Restaurant on Haywood Street is demolished; former UNC Chapel Hill and NBA basketball player Brad Daugherty and a restaurant team close Frankie Bones restaurant and open Daughtery’s American Kitchen in its place in south Asheville, then close it five months later; Gan Shan Station opens on Charlotte Street.