Hot Sheet: Pomodoros restaurant closing; Morsel Cookie Company opens; Covid cases surge in August; Asheville Symphony returns for outdoor concert; more
Also, the death this week of Eliot Wadopian stuns Asheville music community
Summer’s coming to a close, and what an intense few months it’s been: a resurgent pandemic; devastating regional flooding; somber reflection over America’s longest war; and so much more.
There’s plenty of good stuff going around as well, some of which I’ll be sharing here. Personally, I’ve got a fantastic announcement (see below), which will also explain why I’ve been out of commission for the past six weeks.
Now it’s time to get back to it. Thank you, loyal readers, for hanging in there with me. We got this. Here we go:
Pomodoros Cafe on Long Shoals Road (pictured above, at The Overlook at Lake Julian shopping center) is closing for good on Sept. 18. Owner Tommy Tsiros posted a heartfelt message of thanks on social media, and on the front door of his beloved South Asheville restaurant. Noting the bittersweet aspect of moving into retirement after 27 years of serving loyal guests and working with great employees, Tsiros added that he and his family were grateful for all the wonderful community connections forged over that time. He added that he’ll have some exciting upcoming news about who will be taking over the Pomodoros space. (Trivia question: Tsiros had a popular downtown Asheville restaurant in the 1990s located on the corner of College and Spruce streets, where Twisted Laurel is now. Name that restaurant. Answer at the bottom.)
West End Bakery is closed for some remodeling and a rebranding. When the popular eatery reopens, it will be simply the West End. The plan is to keep all the delicious coffee and breakfast goodies, while adding wine and charcuterie for afternoon bites.
Morsel Cookie Company recently opened in Woodfin at 175 Weaverville Highway. Baker Caroline Dockery makes the chunkiest, most chocolatey, marshmallow-est cookie creations you’ve ever seen. Go get ‘em.
The effort to create a N.C. Craft Beverage Museum in Asheville (announced 5 years ago) is finally taking shape in the form of separate exhibits that are being installed in the downtown taprooms of local beverage makers. The exhibits should be on display by October.
The Scarlet Bee’s new food truck will make its debut this Friday and Saturday (Sept. 17-18) at New Origin Brewing, the great new brewery on Thompson Street. The Scarlet Bee owners moved out of its Merrimon Avenue brick-and-mortar location this past spring after lease renewal negotiations fell apart. The restaurant specialized in Lebanese food, tapas, craft cocktails, vegan and vegetarian options. We’ll see what their food truck has in store.
There's one new Asheville restaurant that's still a long way from opening, yet still drawing national attention. Good Hot Fish is the restaurant, and it’s being planned by Chef Ashleigh Shanti, formerly of Benne on Eagle, the lovely restaurant by award-winning Chef John Fleer of Asheville. Shanti is a young African-American cook who has already won lots of recognition and has a novel idea for her new restaurant, which was just mentioned in this comprehensive New York Times write-up published recently, “How Eating Out Has Changed, From The Menu To The Tip.”
Red Tree Builders is planning to turn the old Merrimon Avenue location of Kim’s Oriental food shop into its new offices. Check out the architectural rendering from Form & Function Architecture, which depicts a structure that’s a major improvement over the decrepit, long-vacant building that’s there now.
Earth River Records is coming to 235 Weaverville Road (next to Pelicans SnoBalls) in Woodfin. The shop owner “has an amazing collection of over 20,000 records and music memorabilia that he will be offering to the public,” according to an Instagram post. The tentative opening date is Oct. 15. Stay tuned. Check out Earth River Productions for a little more background.
Second Gear is making steady progress on its new 99 Riverside Dr. location in the River Arts District, a space that will also be a new home for Asheville Adventure Company and Sugar and Snow Gelato. (Background here.) Monday was the last day for Second Gear’s location on Haywood Road.
The Outdoor Gear Builders has postponed its annual Get In Gear Fest due to the ongoing spread of Covid-19. The next Get in Gear Festival is now set for April 23-24. For questions, contact the group’s executive director, Andy Williamson, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Asheville Van Life rally organizers announced last month that the event, scheduled for this week in September, had been canceled due to the ongoing spread of Covid-19. As part of that announcement, organizers said they would not be issuing refunds. The backlash to that particular aspect has been harsh. Here’s to hoping folks will ease up and the rally will bounce back next year.
Tools Direct is coming to the Asheville Outlets.
Howdy Homemade, a new ice cream shop, is planned for 64 Long Shoals Road.
Board and Brush Creative Studio is planned for a space at the shopping center located at 1011 Tunnel Road. The shop is known for its wood sign workshops.
The Exxon gas station at 1378 Patton Avenue is set for an interior remodeling job to turn the space into a convenience store.
Ginger. That’s the name of the miniature horse that has been seen all over downtown recently, being led by a man who says the pony is an emotional support animal.
Bold Rock Hard Cider opened its downtown Asheville taproom this week. Bold Rock took over the former Collaboratory taproom space at the corner of North Lexington and Walnut avenues.
Fans of Asheville author Stephanie Perkins, who has been writing great young adult novels over the past decade, will see her New York Times bestseller, "There's Someone Inside Your House," adapted into a Netflix movie set to be released Oct 6. The story is equal parts an old-fashioned slasher and story of young love, with a mood that’s going for those slasher masterpieces of the 1980s. Entertainment Weekly has a solid piece here all about the Netflix adaptation of Perkins’ book.
The Whale bottle shop in West Asheville is planning to open a second location across town at 2 Beverly Road in East Asheville, writes Edwin Arnaudin for Mountain Xpress. The Outpost will have a smaller tap list than the Haywood Road location, according to the story, while offering a relaxing “country store” vibe for hanging out and drinking a beer. I recently wrote about hanging out with The Whale dudes. Fun!
Asheville Regional Airport recently announced that low-cost carrier Allegiant would begin adding twice-weekly nonstop flights from Asheville to Key West starting Nov. 18. Go to Allegiant.com for all the specifics.
The Asheville Symphony returns to the concert stage after a year-long, Covid-induced hiatus with a family-friendly pops performance at 7 p.m. in Pack Square Park on Sunday, Sept. 19. The event is free. More info here. The symphony and its supporters are suitably excited about this show, which they see as an event marking, in a larger context, the return of the Asheville arts scene.
Area Covid-19 cases surged in August, with 51 deaths reported at Mission Hospital, according to a grim report by Sally Kestin, Barbara Durr and Peter H. Lewis for AVL Watchdog. From the story: “Thomas Turner of West Asheville waited nearly two hours at an urgent care center without being seen before driving himself to Mission, his family said. He never made it inside. Turner, 59, died in the parking lot while his wife, who also had COVID, was being treated in the emergency room.”
A proposed new interchange off Interstate 26 in Buncombe County, which seemingly popped up out of nowhere earlier this summer, is up for discussion. N.C. Department of Transportation officials are inviting the general public to submit questions, comments, and suggestions about it. Go here to learn about the proposal and leave comments, which will be accepted through Oct. 4. The interchange is clearly being built to service at least one influential stakeholder - Pratt & Whitney, which is building a large new manufacturing plant, as well as a new road to connect to the interchange. (Here’s the official economic development announcement from last year.) State highway officials say the all the construction will ultimately connect I-26 to Brevard Road (N.C. 191). They add that the project’s purpose is to address the lack of connectivity between N.C. 191 and I-26 in southern Buncombe County, and to accommodate current and planned growth. (The project area is located about 6 miles south of Asheville along I-26 near mile marker 35, between the Blue Ridge Parkway and the I-26 bridge over the French Broad River.) Still, a number of residents are raising questions about how state highway officials moved to quickly fund this project, Kimberly King reported for WLOS-TV back in June.
Answer to that trivia question earlier: Max’s Celebrity Deli was the name of the restaurant located at the corner of College and Spruce. Bonus points to anyone who remembers what followed. There was the “pirate bar,” called the Joli Rouge, which lasted about three years and was an early 2000s hot spot for a punks, goths and drag queens. Then Arcade Asheville took over the large, two-story space. The “barcade,” as it was known, featured great pinball machines by day and awesome DJ dance parties by night.
And now for a couple of personal notes, again touching on the highs and lows we all seem to be experiencing in these strange days.
Asheville musician Eliot Wadopian, a warm-hearted bass player whose talent took him across the world, earned him two Grammy Awards and helped inform the young musicians he mentored, died Monday. He was 63.
Eliot’s sudden passing shocked his family and his friends. Innumerable tributes have been pouring out over social media. His Free Planet Radio bandmates, Chris Rosser and River Guerguerian, wrote Wednesday that Eliot “left behind an incredible musical legacy that we were blessed to be part of, as well as a legacy of students who will carry his musical approach forward; and a legacy of a wife, children, and grandchildren whom he loved beyond measure.”
This story posted to the Asheville Symphony website captures some of Eliot’s spirit, as well. He played for the symphony for 38 years:
“What jazzes me the most about playing classical music is the realm of emotion that’s covered in some of the music,” he said. “It’s stunning to me. I will admit that I get emotionally involved with music — to the point of even coming to tears. And it happens with Free Planet Radio, too. Music is just beautiful.”
I had the chance for a handful of brief interactions with Eliot as my wife, singer-songwriter Jane Kramer, regularly recorded and performed with Eliot and the Free Planet Radio guys over the past six years. He was a kind, loving delight. His buddies noted his bear-like presence. He collaborated. He educated. He encouraged. To my mind, he quite literally embodied Asheville music. He will be sorely missed.
Finally, Jane and I have an auspicious August arrival to report. Marigold True was born on Aug. 4, weighing 7 pounds and 10 ounces. Her nickname is Goldie.
Jane and Marigold are doing great after a rather intense five-day hospital stay for Goldie’s birth. We’re overjoyed. We’re exhausted. We’re thrilled. We’re worried. We can’t thank our family, our friends and our community for the tremendous love and support everyone has shown. It’s just all been so uplifting (and overwhelming) - the meal deliveries, the notes, the sweet gifts of books and blankets and onesies. We’re still soaking it all up as we begin to regain our balance and emerge anew. Love, love, love. Thank you.
A plug for doulas. They are angels, and can be real life-savers for expecting families. Here’s a great way to get to know a few: Jessica Greene of Kooshlie Care Doula Services is hosting a “meet the doulas” event from 10 a.m. to noon on Sept. 25. This is a free event (also a regular monthly event), and a chance for an outdoor, in-person meeting to learn all about doula support. Go here to sign up.
(Here’s my personal disclaimer: Jane and I hired Jessica as our birth doula, and her knowledge and presence was incredibly valuable to us. In the weeks since our little one has arrived, we’ve leaned on postpartum doula support to help us through this transition. They’ve all been amazing. This is not a paid listing, there’s no quid pro quo here. I’m just trying to help local doulas connect with expecting parents because they’ve been such game-changers for us.)
Ok, time for sleep. Thanks for reading,