Tiger Mountain owner explains controversial locals-only policy for Bele Chere


Another Bele Chere draws to a close, and Tiger Mountain co-owner Jamie Hepler comments that this weekend was his new bar’s biggest yet.

Below is Hepler’s comment, shared on Ashvegas, on why the downtown bar chose its controversial Bele Chere policy.

First off I understand that by day bele chere is a totally acceptable family fun environment and there is obviously nothing wrong with that, it’s the way that people conduct themselves in our bars after the festival that creates the issue. As a business owner I’ve decided that I’m going to take the stance that I don’t have to deal with it.

I would like to say that if you have never worked in a bar downtown during bele chere there is a great deal behind this argument that isn’t privy information to you. I can understand why you may think that we are some sort of exclusive jerks because of our standpoint, but I would like to take this opportunity to help you understand an insider’s view of the way this weekend works.

Of course I don’t have a problem with the majority of bele chere attendees but as the old saying goes a few bad apples can ruin the bunch. I’ve worked in bars where the cost of repairing damages to the establishment nearly ruined any excess profit that may have been gathered due to the event. Not to mention that the hassle involved with the event certainly is never worth the small excess in sales. As a matter of fact a friend of mine had to kick a man out of the bar he works at last night while the man was puking in a sink and urinating on the floor underneath the sink simultaneously.Another bar that I used to work at once had a man finish a beer and puke it directly back into his glass. Obviously he was immediately kicked out and nearly without blinking an eye he stumbled back in to ask where his beer was. Unfortunately bele chere is plagued with these kinds of incidents every single year and I don’t need to point out that this is a major issue.

Bars are allowed a certain number of people at a time due to fire regulations, often times on weekends bars reach this limit and we don’t have any interest in trading out one of our friendly weekend regulars for a vomiting fool, I think this is an obvious point. These are not the kinds of things that occur in our cities establishments on a regular basis and the fact that the event curates this kind of activity is the reason that I am uninterested in taking part.

Secondly I would like to say thank you for all of our support in our stance this weekend. Both days were our busiest days yet and I think your support proves the point of how downtown workers feel about the bele chere shit show. We will continue to be there for you, we will continue to be locals only for every single bele chere, we will continue to gladly accept tourists the other fifty one weekends out of the year, and we will continue to really really enjoying ourselves while doing so. We look forward to seeing ALL of you soon.

For those of you that appreciate our standpoint I thank you and I sincerely look forward to our good times. The rest of you can still fuck off (and that’s an offer that doesn’t expire).

I hope this clears up our position reasonably well.




After a bad online review, Tiger Mountain Thirst Parlour offers $30 for most ridiculous Yelp writeup September 16, 2013 - 1:00 pm

[…] The deliciously subversive boys at Tiger Mountain Thirst Parlour, a downtown hipster dive bar, are offering a $30 bar tab to the person who writes what they consider ”the most ridiculous, surreal, hilarious, or otherwise entertaining Yelp review of Tiger Mountain. The winner will chosen in two weeks.” (These are the same guys that instituted a controversial “locals only” policy during Bele Chere.) […]

vandavis July 31, 2013 - 4:49 pm

Personally, as a local who has never even been to this bar…reading Jamie’s statement actually makes me WANT to go there.

I wonder if anyone has considered the idea that if they are offended by his statement, they are exactly the the type of patron he’s NOT looking for?

I get the humor mixed with real talk. It’s only rude if you’re the asshole he’s talking to.

Lighten up and take the business he’s directing at you, graciously, if it’s so great.

indie July 27, 2013 - 5:28 pm

I live here and only have been to Tiger Mountain once. It would need to get better to be average and get a share of my business anyway. So, I’d never recommend it tourist anyway.

Forrest July 27, 2013 - 10:50 am

Essentially what jamie has done is alienated destructive redneck tourists with camoflage tube tubes and non ironic mulletts as well as alienated pretentious asheville miss manners types who get offended by the tone of his voice or his business decisions which dont affect them…for this i say thank you jamie for providing us assholes who know how to behave in public a place to drink after work. As a downtown bar employee for 6years i appreciate a place to go where i dont have to deal with the high maitenance people i just served for 9 hours….as a big ole homo i appreciate a place i can go and not hear the word faggot or worry about get punched (although sean did donkey punch me one time there) in the face…the only problem is that there are so many people who feel the same way i do that there is always a line out of your door so getting in is a problem despite my attempts at trying to have sex with your bouncer.

Jabob July 27, 2013 - 9:48 am

The bar can do what they want. Then consumers will decide if they want to spend their money there. The bar will stay in business or it won’t. Predicted life cycle for this hipster hangout is no more than 5 years total.

Steve Dave July 26, 2013 - 6:56 pm

It is widely known that Jamie is the biggest hipster d-bag in town, his pretentious attitude is not surprising. That being said, he has a pretty cool bar. I like the locals only weekend but I will probably be at the Bier Garden puking into my own glass.

Nate July 26, 2013 - 3:11 pm

Re-posting this so-called “controversy,” where both sides have been so thoroughly thrashed over and explained, and no one is likely to persuade anyone on the other side of the argument, is the blog equivalent of trolling.

Avl business owner July 26, 2013 - 12:01 am

Jamie – as a business owner, you have the right to manage your business as you wish (to a certain extent). You chose to be downtown for a reason. I would assume that reason is to profit, from not only locals, but also from tourists. Even though Bele Chere may not be your typical crowd, I think you generalize and lose a lot of business by being an asshole. Suck it up for a few days, enjoy the influx of people and put up with the occasional jerk like we all do from time to time. If I were a regular at your bar, I would appreciate your opinion on the situation, however I would also be disgusted by your response. We’re all in this big party together. Lighten up.

Nate July 26, 2013 - 3:16 pm

I seriously wonder if any of the people preaching about how customers of Tiger Mountain will be alienated and “disgusted” by this policy has ever actually been to the place. I’ve never been either, but the idea that a “regular” at ANY bar would be offended by keeping tourists out on a few nights a year is beyond ridiculous to me, let alone a place with as much hipster attitude as Tiger Mountain.

Jamz July 25, 2013 - 4:26 pm

Locals that work downtown absolutely need a haven after the pummeling of working Bele Chere. You might not appreciate Jamie’s prickly attitude in this statement, but it reflects how the local help is often treated by the visiting zoo. There is no reason to be offended; if you don’t like it, just don’t go there.

Brews and Pubs: Hipster Edition {kyle} « December 12, 2012 - 1:32 pm

[…] Many people express disgust at the mere mention of it’s name. This place was home to the controversial ‘locals-only’ policy during Bele Chere this past year. So, the first time I went there I was a little […]

Ally August 23, 2012 - 5:43 pm

So I don’t even live in Asheville any more (sadly) but I think this is pretty awesome. FYI private business they can do what they want.

Suzanne July 31, 2012 - 12:37 pm

No problem with the business owner’s decision, but BIG-time problem with his attitude and crudeness.

Jake July 25, 2013 - 3:34 pm

If you have a problem with attitude and crudeness, you should not go to bars then.

Sam July 31, 2012 - 11:42 am

Jamie can obviously do what he wants, he owns the bar, but it certainly seems a little amateurish to say such things and represent yourself that way. I would imagine this is Jamie’s first business and he’s going to look back on this and realize there were some words he shouldn’t have used, perhaps he shouldn’t have told potential customers to “fuck off”, etc. Those are things you learn as a business owner, in time, believe me. I still find myself having to censor myself on FB sometimes, because I am a local business owner and there is simply no time ever when you’re not representing your business. who you are is who your business is, there’s no escaping that.

I have no problem w/his choice to have only locals in, but I think it’s pretty obvious the whole thing was a publicity stunt, and it worked. I don’t think Jamie here chose this weekend policy because he wanted to avoid shitheads coming into his bar, as he alludes to, it was because he knew he would get some local press and create a stir. there was really no chance any tourists visiting for Bele Chere were going to go in there to begin with, it’s on the outskirts of downtown and there’s really no foot traffic from Bele Chere in that vicinity. he created a stir w/his policy for the weekend and he got himself a bunch of free advertising, so kudos on that. there is no such thing as bad publicity. I can guarantee that if his bar was inside the Bele Chere zone he wouldn’t be singing the same tune, because yah, having 300,000 rednecks descend on our beautiful city in all their glory sure is a big fucking inconvenience for the weekend, but the fact that my sales easily quadrupled themselves for the weekend and we had a record weekend, same as last year, that’s enough reason in itself to appreciate Bele Chere for what it is. You work your ass off for the weekend, you deal w/some really ignorant people, you stop a few fights, yell at a few drunk people in your bar, and you make a fuckload of money you wouldn’t otherwise, not a bad tradeoff for the weekend.


Fred Johnson July 25, 2013 - 3:05 pm

If we had fewer ass-kissing toadies running businesses in this town, we’d all be better off. There are a mountain of books written about how the “customer is always right, don’t you dare offend them!” mantra is utterly bogus and bad for both economies and customers.

Jake July 25, 2013 - 3:33 pm

It is not a publicity stunt, they did the same thing last year. I am also sure that any of the potential customers that decided not to come into Tiger Mountain, because he used profanity or said fuck off, would not have enjoyed it anyway.

Doug Sahm July 31, 2012 - 10:57 am

“The rest of you can still fuck off”

Aw, come on, Man. I went Friday night and really liked the bar and will be back again, but come on.

Ta-da July 31, 2012 - 10:24 am

So Jamie, where are you from?

Orbit DVD July 30, 2012 - 5:36 pm

Great. This — — USED to be a great bar, until all the publicity. Now it’s too crowded for me.

J Green July 30, 2012 - 5:24 pm

I thoroughly enjoy the fact that Tiger Mountain isnt your average, everyday bar that seeks the attention and acceptance of every person that walks by, or that visits our town. We, as locals, need a place that we may go during such events as Belle Chere to get away from the shit, seeing as how most of my favorite bars are packed with already drunk, belligerent fools who think its ok to piss on floors and knock down doors. Kudos to Jamie and Sean for their stance this past weekend. Tiger Mountain FA EVA

AOD July 30, 2012 - 4:08 pm

I’ll just counter those folks saying this hurts their business by saying I’ve never been to this establishment, but as a local, I look forward to visiting and supporting their business.


Zacchaeus Nifong July 30, 2012 - 12:29 pm

There are so many things I can say to this, but I don’t have time – because I’m busy satisfying my Client’s needs. I have a suggestion for you dude:

Take the extra money that you make from Bele Chere and HIRE A BOUNCER. Problem solved. You actually hurt our economy with your rants and attitude. Let me guess, you’ve got a bumper sticker that says, “Don’t move here”…

No business owner would ever say that. Good luck because I will not be supporting you. Tourism generates over 2 BILLION dollars in revenue per YEAR for Asheville. If I can help it, none of those dollars will walk through your door.

Jamie July 30, 2012 - 3:45 pm

we’ve had bouncers since day one. they are super friendly guys as well as the rest of us.

I don’t mind people moving here. I moved here once, it was a good decision. I enjoy it here. Part of what I enjoy so much is the fact that the area is fairly transient. I enjoy traveling people coming through and I enjoy their company. Disliking someone because they are traveling would be really silly coming from someone that travels a good bit and honestly appreciates the hospitality that he receives in other cities.

As I’ve said before our decision to do a locals only weekend was not a decision made in hatred or as an attempt at being rude or exclusive. I merely created a space downtown where people could get away from a festival that many Asheville residents do not enjoy being subject to. It went well and I like being there for my peers. We have all been very happy that it was a hit, so have our customers. Finding an open niche and filling it is an important part of running a business and we’ve been grateful enough to find and easy one to fill.

in closing I’d like to add that I’ve gotten a sincere kick out of everyone getting so enraged about something that in all reality hardly even came into effect. We had very few tourists even attempt to come into our establishment partially because we are not in the bele chere zone so many of them didn’t even know that we were around and partially because once the they realized that we were at capacity and there would be a short wait they had no interest. Your negative energy fueled a small flame that gave us a little extra business this weekend. For that, we thank you. I really doubt that those of you who are so upset would have ever decided to come to the parlour in the first place, therefore this is entirely irrelevant to you from the get go. In the future if we choose to do something that you disagree with your best be would be to mind your own business because your shenanigans have done nothing but help us out by spreading the word. I’m going to return to having fun running a business the way I see fit because I’ve finished explaining myself.

best (and I mean that),

Timbo July 30, 2012 - 8:05 pm

I thought about reading your reply, but decided to not even give you a chance based on the previous hoopla you have created.

The Blunder Years July 30, 2012 - 8:42 pm

Sure you didn’t read it…

Timbo July 30, 2012 - 9:50 pm

I most certainly did not! I have lived in Asheville for 5 years and still have my ID from a different city, so for this guy to not let me come to his bar during Bele Chere kinda makes me not like him… Then I read this obnoxious letter he writes….followed by 2 more obnoxious replies… why in the world would I read another entire letter of his junk!? Did he say something about me in it?

vandavis July 31, 2013 - 4:45 pm

Dude, update your I.D. Jeez. lol

Nate July 31, 2012 - 8:29 am

“I’m ignoring you! I’m ignoring you! Look at me, I’m ignoring you!!”

Kipper July 30, 2012 - 4:23 pm

I’m certain it’s not the type of bar you’d enjoy Zach.

Nate July 31, 2012 - 8:34 am

I like the part where you put words in the business owner’s mouth, and then proudly proclaim your disagreement with the position you just fabricated. Here’s hoping you’re equally creative when servicing your clients.

Jake July 25, 2013 - 3:39 pm

Oh, No!!! You won’t be going out to his bar!! I am sure that you and your Vodka Redbull at 1:59am with not tip will be sincerely missed.

Respect July 30, 2012 - 11:40 am

I have no problem with Jamie’s position, either, and applaud his dedication to locals. I’d like to ask him, however, if such blatant disrespect is necessary to punctuate his stance. Why would even locals patronize a business whose co-owner shows such disdain, contempt, and disrespect for people who disagree with him? Isn’t Asheville’s “public face” more about inclusion, acceptance, and love–and even if not any of those, at the very least, mutual respect? I’m sorry, but I cannot in good faith patronize this establishment.

Fred Johnson July 25, 2013 - 3:02 pm

It’s precisely that bogus, terrifically fake “public face” that most people in Asheville are absolutely sick of. I think far more people will respect his honesty and lack of the pretentiousness that oozes from every one of Asheville’s snobby little pores, than will be put off by him dropping the eff bomb.

Ryan Murdock July 30, 2012 - 10:03 am

Horrible attitude. This is not how a professional should represent a business. My 3 year old can handle public relations better than this. I will avoid this place and recommend others do the same.

DBO July 30, 2012 - 10:40 am


Jamie July 30, 2012 - 1:52 pm

if your three year old would like a job have him or her bring a resume in. I’d be happy to give it a glance.

La July 29, 2012 - 10:50 pm

“…I don’t need to point out that this is a major issue.”
“…I think this is an obvious point.”
“The rest of you can still fuck off…”

I have no problem with his position, but why does he have to be such a dick about it? I don’t think he even has a clue how condescending this comes across to anyone who’s not a downtown bar employee.

indie July 30, 2012 - 9:35 am

Bingo. The position taken is fine. The attitude is obnoxious.

Nate July 31, 2012 - 8:25 am

This is generally referred to as “the tone argument” and it seems to be offered up most often in debates by people who don’t have a real point of disagreement, but just feel compelled to scold.

Jamie July 30, 2012 - 1:51 pm

if you don’t think that was intentional we have bigger fish to fry.

La July 30, 2012 - 4:29 pm

Oops, I was giving the benefit of the doubt that you aren’t as much of a douche as you seem. My bad.

Cat Ford-Coates July 29, 2012 - 5:51 pm

As someone that has worked numerous Bele Chere events as a bartender and bar manager:
Business owners get excited about the tourist flush event. It is the one weekend out of the year where their business will be frequented by more than triple a normal weekend (if not more). Most restaurants/bars extend their normal business hours into the daytime to maximize on that exposure with the hopes that they can play a little catch up with their profit margins.
Jaime is right. Most service members refer to Bele Chere as Hell Chere for several reasons. Alongside 16 hour shifts ending in only cleaning up after people that have been consuming alcohol all day long, repairing damages (because somehow it seems acceptable to destroy commercial property for whatever reason), breaking up fights and putting off grabby patrons that feel that festivals somehow give them the right the behave as though they never had a parent ever in their lives. It is simply a zoo. Period.
Now, some of that burden falls on the staff members as it is illegal to over-serve an individual in NC. We all must take responsibility in some of that mess. Personally, I wouldn’t have put it quite the same way as Jaime. Noone is here to offend and disrespect any would be patron (let alone human) for bar crimes they may or may not commit however, in allowing ONLY locals to their establishment it shows that Jaime and his counterparts at Tiger Mountain truly appreciate the people that keep them alive throughout the remainder of the year. These same people are the same folks that will take refuge in their bar for months and years to come because of that appreciation. Locals should be celebrated, especially during events wherein their seats may be taken by someone who may not even remember your bar’s name an hour later. In short, good job guys! In the madness that IS Bele Chere (from tourists to the characters that crawl out from behind the rocks in the outskirts of Asheville) you give locals a place to hide from that one guy puking on their shoes in the street.

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