It’s been just over a year since owner Laurey Masterton, one of Asheville’s pioneer downtown restaurant owners, died after a long bout with cancer. Laurey opened her sandwich shop on Biltmore Avenue in 1990, when downtown Asheville was a shadow of its current self.
Laurey’s is the second long-time restaurant to close in downtown Asheville this year. Vincenzo’s owner Dwight Butner announced last month that he would close the restaurant. He started working at the Market Street eatery in 1990 as a waiter.
Today, Laurey’s sister, Heather Masterton, sent me this note in response to my inquiry for an update:
Laurey Masterton is an Asheville icon. Her work in this wonderful town endures, and thrives, at institutions like the YWCA’s new Laurey Masterton Memorial Garden, the Laurey Masterton Don’t Postpone Joy Scholarship at ABTech’s Culinary Arts program, and the YMCA’s Livestrong program for cancer survivors; the 3rd Annual JOYride is planned for September of this year. Her dedication to healthy food choices for children has been nurtured during Adam and Emily Thome’s years of leadership at Laurey’s Cafe, most recently through their outreach to school lunch programs.
The family has reach the difficult decision to cease operations as Laurey’s Cafe and Catering, and we support Adam and Emily Thome as they endeavor to continue their work independently. The storefront at 67 Biltmore is closed for the month of March as we determine the best path to address the business challenge. Adam and Emily are crafting a new business entity to continue catering in the tradition of Laurey’s, and are honoring the contracts and deposits made by our customers for events this year and beyond. They are hoping to work out of the 67 Biltmore facility.
We give thanks to our customers, our friends, and our employees, past and present, who joined Laurey on her journey of joy for 30 years . Laurey loved you all, and we are thankful that the business endured under her inspirational star for so many years.
The Cafe is in a prime downtown location, with attendant expenses, parking, and marketing challenges, and profit margins in the food industry are historically difficult to maintain. The year ahead is robust with catering jobs, and the cafe has been busy, but the weeks of fierce winter weather sapped slender reserves. Plans have been underway throughout the year for a transfer of ownership, and this was not our desired solution. We have reached this difficult decision after long assessment of many alternative plans, and we trust that Laurey’s customers will continue to support Adam and Emily as they discover their own new path. We honor their years of support for our sister, and know that they will continue to represent the best of her work.
The Family of Laurey Masterton
Here is a statement from the Thomes:
This past year has been very difficult for all of us. We worked hard to attempt a transition of ownership following Laurey’s death, but couldn’t find a way to put the business in a position to succeed moving forward. While Heather and Lucinda loved their sister very much, this business was not their passion. The family has now made the very difficult decision to close Laurey’s. We understand their decision and know it was a hard one.
Those of us who have worked at Laurey’s all these years are family. We care about what we do and have loved being part of the meaningful Laurey’s community in this beautiful city. Our partnerships with local businesses and our loyal customers mean a great deal to all of us.
Some folks in the community have come forward to assist us in continuing Laurey’s legacy of great food and a business that honors its staff, its guests and its purveyors. We are currently working hard to make arrangements for a new business at 67 Biltmore that embodies the elements that made Laurey’s an Asheville favorite – delicious, handmade seasonal comfort food and friendly counter service in an amazing sunlit space. Many things must still fall into place, but we are working hard to open in early spring, Laurey’s favorite season. While the business will no longer be called “Laurey’s” we are moving forward with her in our hearts and hope that when we reopen 67 Biltmore you will still find her spirit there.
adam & emily thome
(and the rest of the crew)
Sincere thanks to Adam and Emily Thome for their dedication to Laurey’s vision, and their hard work and talent that has made the cafe and catering so amazing. Let’s all wish them the very best and offer support for their new venture by showing up and using their services in the years to come. Laurey and company helped shape our wonderful homegrown food community and we can be grateful that Adam and Emily (and sweet Henry) will continue to provide a special place with quality products born out of love.
Heaps of gratitude to the Thomes and good luck as you create your new journey that we hope to share!
I never realized they were an actual restaurant. I never went in because the storefront emphasized catering and stuff to-go. It just looked like a deli counter with a couple small tables and chairs near it.
it was a fantastic restaurant, always packed and with the best whole/real foods menu around. BUMMER!
I’m confused. So, Laurey’s, as Laurey’s, is closing. But Adam and Emily will re-open it under another name…possibly in the same location?
In regards to Adam and Emily wanting to work out of that same location, why? The rent there must be $4000/mo. A caterer doesn’t need a good location, only good food and the ability to market themselves.