UPDATED Life and death on the Asheville restaurant scene

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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Thai Eggplant Stack with seasonal veggies and a pearl barley salad from the now-closed Asheville Public.

2013 closings Jan.-Feb.

The Asheville Public

Cafe Azalea

Bistro 1896

Tomato Cucina Latina


The Birdhouse Cafe

Brioso Fresh Pasta (Biltmore Park)

Sugar Momma’s Cookies

Mr. Frog’s Soul and Creole closed in December

Restaurants expected to open in 2013


The Local Taco

Seven Sows Bourbon & Larder

BoBo Pho

Farm Burger


The Green Room (bar with light menu)


King Daddy’s Chicken & Waffles

Beer City Pretzel Company

Ben’s Tune-up

Buxton Hill Barbecue


Pizza Pura

The Bull & Beggar

New riverside restaurant and bar “constructed from shipping containers” from Matthew Logan, owner of the 5 Walnut bar on Walnut Street downtown

Whoever moves in to the vacant Magnetic Field


The Shambles Bar & Eatery (charcuterie in the old Blue Water Seafood location on Charlotte Street)

Ambrozia Bar & Bistro


Cafe Azalea under new ownership


All Souls Pizza

Oyster House Brewpub

Kitchen 643

Zia Taqueria (opens today)

Biscuit Head

Location TBD

Vortex Doughnuts

And the beat goes on. Good luck to the 2013 lineup!

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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  1. SLR September 27, 2013

    You also have to realize that being a server is not easy in Asheville, everyone here is a “foody” and loves to tell you how they would do everything from how to cook the food to how you should mix their drink. If you are going to be so picky then stay home and cook for yourself. If you are getting bad service there must be a reason. Please order from the menu and let the chef cook it how they have it on the menu, substitutions should not happen unless you have an allergy. The chef added that ingredient for a reason. I have had people come into a restaurant that I am working at and tell me they are on a 15 day diet and cannot have butter, gluten, sugar, oil, etc… please don’t bother me or my chef with a diet, go and eat raw vegetables somewhere else please.

  2. Christian W. February 22, 2013

    My partner and I eat out rather often (2-4 x week) for various meals (lunch, brunch, dinner, drink & snacks, etc.). We’ve found service in Asheville to be hit or miss. Some places are excellent, some are okay and others are just not good. I feel that sometimes simply being nice to the servers goes a long way. Sometimes it doesn’t. I have had experience with blatantly rude servers and while I am by nature far from being a rude person, such behavior will test my patience. I don’t think many servers realize that a good attitude and attentive service will benefit them financially. Why some choose to cut off their nose to spite their face by providing poor service is beyond me. Being a good server is something to take pride in. If you’re a server and find yourself miserable doing it, please, do us all a favor and find another occupation!

  3. fido February 19, 2013

    thanks ..i was really scared to say what i believe truth only what only my only my a personal

  4. CHCollins February 18, 2013

    Restaurant management is responsible for all aspects of a restaurant’s operation. If service is poor it is because management tolerates it and/or doesn’t put in the time to coach or correct. Well-run restaurants respect their customers and their employees. Customers can and should vote with their feet. That said, there is that segment of restaurant-goers who will choose the $5.99 plate with poor service over the $7.49 plate with good service, and so there will always be restaurants who cater to them.

  5. Vlad Emrick February 18, 2013

    Why do so many people seem to believe the problems of poor restaurant service, bad winter weather drivers, and starving artists (just to pick on three recent topics of Ashvegas posts) are limited to Asheville? Are people really that insular?

    I cringe every time I hear someone say, “Asheville has the worst (fill in the blank) in the world.” Not because I’m blind to the limitations of this city and region, but because it’s impossible to make those kind of absolute claims with any certainty.

    1. Nate February 18, 2013

      Why does something have to be unique to Asheville, or the “worst” or “best” of something, to be worthy of discussion, though? From what I’ve read the discussions on these issues have just said, “This is a problem here,” and have gone on to discuss the particulars of the Asheville art market, or the correlation between poor service and the high cost of living, or whatever. If someone occasionally drops a little hyperbole into the conversation, it hardly makes the whole conversation irrelevant.

      1. Vlad Emrick February 19, 2013

        Because when “a little hyperbole” is dropped into the conversation,the fundamental argument of why service is poor or why drivers are bad or why the art market is slow is generally relegated to merely local factors. In many cases, these aren’t unique to Asheville, although some people would have you believe that.

    2. NFB February 19, 2013

      “Are people really that insular?”

      That’s a rhetorical questions, right?

  6. Lori B February 18, 2013

    Hi Fido,
    No need to hold back in this forum…glad to see that I am not alone in my thinking. In Europe servers are highly regarded and take pride in their career. In Asheville it feels like a lot of people from other parts of the country move here, then try to figure out their career path. With zero industry other than tourism, many of these folks are serving, working several jobs because the reality of having to work in Asheville has set in. This is a wonderful place to call home if you are retired. For those, myself included, who are not retired we have to adapt to the wonkiness that is Asheville. This means dealing with servers who, for the most part, can’t believe that they relocated here leaving their $50,000 a year job and now they’re waiting tables struggling to pay the rent.
    I wish restaurant owners would adapt as well and create incentives to retain professional staff. Poor apathetic service is contagious and leaves a bad taste in thy customers mouth.
    Peace y’all

  7. fido February 18, 2013

    hey Lori, couldn’t agree with you more about the service aspect. i’ll put myself out here and expect to get mauled, smacked, hated-on. but i still have to say a bit about what some service folks and foodies won’t speak up on, or are just too “pc”,{gosh, i hate that term). however, as I see it…here i go:

    There are(is) a dying culture of “professional” service people in ashe. it costs alot to live here, and a one job gig won’t pay the rent. i am one of them.i am lucky. my house is paid for.

    Empolyers,not all,but many seem to be of the mind-set “we would rather train someone new than hire someone with bad habits”.seen it,heard it. there it is.

    Local former employers can be very vindictive in references. this is still a hard place to grab and keep a good gig. harder when an employer wants to poison you.

    And here it goes..(i cringe now)…even though i have 30+ years working behind a bar and managing the same, i keep ending up at the short end of the stick when i decided to come back to work after a short retirement pertaining to being a caregiver for my mom. t&a sells. period. accept it and move on.

    I try my best when i work.always.no exceptions.no texting. no girlfriend coming to my place when i work.no drugs,texting,or situations.

    The level of service is lowered by the employer, not the employee. simple economics. you get what you pay for.

    1. yeppers February 19, 2013

      EXACTLY. You get what you pay for. I recently read an article that a place with consistently grumpy or slow servers is probably a sign that something is not right in the place and that they’re likely not being treated well (i.e. 90% of service industry work in AVL). The article also made the point that the right to be disgruntled is a valid way to handle work when you’re being exploited.

      One can say, that’s not my fault, why should the server take it out on me, as a customer? But then try being paid $2.13 an hour, and sometimes going home at the end of a shift with 30 bucks because it’s been a slow night or you get stuck with asshole tourists.

      Whew, you would think it hadn’t been a full decade since I’ve waited tables–still bitter! : )

  8. Lori B February 18, 2013

    I don’t understand the restaurant scene in Asheville….it seems like every year we see a dozen places close and a dozen places open. Great food and poor service yields a mediocre meal at best. Sadly we find this to be the case more often than not in Asheville. Love the food, loathe the service.
    Today’s lunch our server, after 10 minutes, says “oh, I was going to take your order when I came over” I swear on my arm this is true. it will be another 6 months before we go back…

    1. Jennifer Saylor February 18, 2013

      Lori, agreed that service is a problem in Asheville. Try Laughing Seed for a welcome change of pace.

      1. Harry Sax February 18, 2013

        Hahahaha…good one

        1. Orbit DVD February 19, 2013

          Yeah, I’m trying to figure this comment out.

    2. ashevillain February 18, 2013

      Service in Asheville is terrible. It’s not just servers either. Bartenders are seriously lazy around here.

  9. walliann wisniewski February 18, 2013

    Did Brioso in Biltmore Park close? We went there Saturday night around 7pm and the restaurant was dark, with a light in the kitchen and a “closed” sign on the door.

    1. Jennifer Saylor February 18, 2013

      It does appear that they have closed.

      1. Luis February 19, 2013

        Yes, it definitely did close.


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