Sold! Clingman Cafe in Asheville’s River Arts District

Jason Sandford

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

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clingman_cafe_asheville_2015Correction: Trip Howell took over Clingman Cafe nine years ago. The original post incorrectly stated that he opened the business.

Trip Howell, who took over Clingman Cafe in Asheville’s River Arts District nine years ago and grew it into a hub for artists, residents and tourists, has sold the business.

Howell, who closed the deal Monday, said Tuesday in a telephone interview that it was a bittersweet decision, “but it was time for me to move on.” Howell said he’s been selling real estate with Mike Figura of Mosaic Community Lifestyle Realty for about the past six months and has been enjoying it.

Howell said he sold to Dan and Debbie Bartok, whose family once owned the popular Hot Shot Cafe in Biltmore Village. The diner, known for its down-home biscuits, gravy and friendly service, closed in 2007. At the time, it was Asheville’s oldest restaurant. The Bartoks will keep all of Howell’s 13 employees and keep the cafe running smoothly, Howell said. He added that the Bartoks’ daughter is a pastry chef who is already adding to the cafe’s offerings in that department.

“They will carry it on well,” Howell said.

Over the past decade, the cafe has become a gathering spot for artists working in the River Arts District, as well as neighborhood residents and the increasing number of tourists who have discovered the numerous galleries and studios there. “It’s just a great place to hang out,” Howell said.

The cafe’s menu features fare named after longtime artists, and the affable Howell has been referred to as the unofficial mayor of the River Arts District. In recent years, he turned the cafe itself into a small art gallery that sells and features the work of local artists.

Image link for Clingman Cafe.


Jason Sandford

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

  • 1

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  1. CJames September 29, 2015

    Damien Cavicchi didn’t he close SUGO in the middle of the night and flee town without telling any of his staff?

  2. Lindsay cavicchi September 22, 2015

    Just an FYI, Tripp didn’t open it, my husband Damien Cavicchi and I did in 2005. Thanks!

  3. John September 22, 2015

    Yes, the cafe was opened in 2005 by Damien and Lindsay Cavicchi

  4. jack September 22, 2015

    Pretty sure Trip bought the clingman cafe after moving here in 2007, from Damien Cavicchi.

    1. Joe September 23, 2015

      That would be 100% correct! Damien sold it before opening Sugo back in 2008.


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