Opinion – Asheville Blog http://ashevilleblog.com Your Source for all things Asheville Thu, 18 Oct 2018 13:32:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.15 Grail Moviehouse Opening Soon Downtown Asheville http://ashevilleblog.com/grail-moviehouse-opening-soon/ http://ashevilleblog.com/grail-moviehouse-opening-soon/#respond Fri, 15 Jan 2016 15:14:20 +0000 http://ashevilleblog.com/?p=9593 Happy New Years Everybody!

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Happy New Years Everybody!

It’s that time of year folks, and I’m certain that many of you, our wonderful readers, have set goals aimed at bettering yourselves or your situation.

After spending the holiday season deep in the Asheville Blog research laboratory consulting with renowned scientists and blowing through endless stacks of governmental grant cash, we have the solution. The answer. Am I allowed to say, even, the truth?

It is called: Grail Moviehouse.

Normally I try to temper myself and give both sides of any article due prudence and repose but I’ll level with you here, I can’t really see a side other than the good one. This is a cozy, two screen theater opening up right next to Hopey on S. French Broad downtown. Emily and I had the pleasure of speaking to the founders and owners a few weeks ago.

The pair running this outfit are some of the most kind and welcoming people I’ve met in a while, they even waved at me when I ran into them at Gypsy Queen (which you should all go to) many days after we had met for our brief chat.

Their goal is to bring an independent theater experience to the Asheville community that will show classics, the best B movies, small budget documentaries, and arts films that the Fine Arts Theatre may not pick up. The theater itself is a gem, and that is coming from someone who saw it while it was still under construction. It really is a modern take on the classic theater; imagine an old style screen room with the chairs that have the landmark red-velvet stuff on them and it has the exact same vibe. The twist? The velvet is purple. I think that boils down the essence of their approach more efficiently than any long description I could give.

The owners are dedicated but also open to new ideas and it’s refreshing to see a new business that has a solid plan that still manages to include room for innovation. We talked about the potential of something like guided viewings, where important films will be shown with a discussion and maybe a Q&A. Opportunities like that one will be augmented by the Grail’s neighbor, The Asheville School of Film. The school has an office space and filming room in the very same building and it seems both organizations are looking forward to bringing interesting, valuable film events to the city.

I’m a film nerd, as are the couple behind the scenes at the Grail. I can guarantee that there will be no shortage of fun and unique movies showing in this new cinematic corner downtown. The Grail is also not a fling into the unknown. The owners have years of experience in running theaters of a similar size and style, and are clearly dedicated to the cause.

Back to the beginning though, the connection between your New Year’s Resolution to be a brighter shade of yourself. The Grail is giving us all an opportunity to support something new, independent, and positive. Opening a new anything in Asheville is not easy as we’ve all seen places come and go. You leave for six months and a lot has changed around. Let’s work together to welcome the Grail and show our support. I can’t imagine anything better than going to see a movie you probably can’t see on the big screen anywhere else at a great venue run by good, caring people. They want to help us too. They are hoping to team up with some Asheville food makers to bring special, delicious food into the theater some nights. Tickets are going to run around $8 and they hope to be open in the next month or so.

In short, this is a truly cool and special thing that’s showing up in our town. Go local, (please) go to the Grail once it opens (it’s going to be so much fun). They’ll have beer too!

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No Animals Were Harmed In The Making Of This Film: PlantPure Nation http://ashevilleblog.com/no-animals-were-harmed-in-the-making-of-this-film-plantpure-nation/ http://ashevilleblog.com/no-animals-were-harmed-in-the-making-of-this-film-plantpure-nation/#respond Wed, 04 Nov 2015 22:30:43 +0000 http://ashevilleblog.com/?p=9306 Many are going to go and see the movie PlantPure Nation because they already agree with what they expect it will say, and that is nothing new for films that could be fairly generalized as leftist documentaries. The main complaint this group faces is that it functions as a facet of the all too present mutual approval machine. PlantPure Nation, however, offers up a film that is more interesting than one might expect. Hopefully it draws some viewers who are curious about the changing face of food in America or even those who, by no fault of their own, haven’t given it much thought. 

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Many are going to go and see the movie PlantPure Nation because they already agree with what they expect it will say, and that is nothing new for films that could be fairly generalized as leftist documentaries. The main complaint this group faces is that it functions as a facet of the all too present mutual approval machine. PlantPure Nation, however, offers up a film that is more interesting than one might expect. Hopefully it draws some viewers who are curious about the changing face of food in America or even those who, by no fault of their own, haven’t given it much thought.

PlantPure hinges on a few key facets and drives them home, albeit somewhat repeatedly. It makes self-identified strides towards promoting the truth and spreading “the good word.” I’m happy to say that it is successful in that goal. Viewers get a first hand view of how radically people’s health can change for the better. It’s not a lose weight quick scheme, or a new fad, it’s scientific research that proves its hypothesis. Eating better prevents the development of diseases and can improve health to such a degree that many individuals were able to completely remove a number of prescription medications from their daily routine.

The science behind PlantPure is solid and the film was created by people who are clearly invested in increasing the wellbeing of the many. However, for me, the most immersive parts of the documentary did not come through the segments about the PlantPure diet. Instead I was drawn towards what it was trying to do with the perception of vegetarianism, veganism, and locally sourced small scale farming.

The beginning segment of the film feels almost like a campaign ad. You’ll see beautiful rolling hills, hear twangy music that drips with unadulterated Americana, and feel the history of a farm that’s been passed down through the generations. Similar imagery continues throughout and leaves a feeling that more than anything else, PlantPure wants to make it clear that vegetarianism is not just for the trendy and cosmopolitan, but for everyone.

The film highlights Mebane, NC and its residents alongside a montage of local love for fried food. A montage that I personally identify with. This is important because rural areas, counter-intuitively, suffer some of the worst food deserts and health issues in the nation.

PlantPure casts the plant based diet as a new form of independence from corporate greed and corruption, both in terms of health and American business practice, and spotlights it as a way to take back some of the country’s value from big business. I have to be honest here and say that it does get a little bit lost along the way.

The film does go on for too long though, and leaves some questions. The specifics behind the studies they conduct are vague. What were the participants’ diets were before they went the veggie route, or how expensive were the components of each meal. These points don’t break the movie, but they are important considerations.

PlantPure is worth a watch because it will inform you about happenings in both the health and political community that you are probably unaware of and make you feel good about the state of things. Most importantly, it serves as a fairly inspiring reminder that change has to come from the people and not from politicians.

My biggest complaint though? Not a single pun about grassroots. Not one.

I’m giving PlantPure Nation a Tyrone “Clean” Miller, Laurence Fishburne’s character in Apocalypse Now. While the movie is no Morpheus yet, it’s well on its way.

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Asheville Bar Fly Buzzes Into Public School and The Yacht Club http://ashevilleblog.com/asheville-bar-fly-buzzes-into-public-school-and-the-yacht-club/ http://ashevilleblog.com/asheville-bar-fly-buzzes-into-public-school-and-the-yacht-club/#respond Fri, 21 Aug 2015 15:14:00 +0000 http://ashevilleblog.com/?p=9011 A steamy summer Saturday night in July.  A local waves farewell to his friends at the River Cleanup, jumps on his bike and heads to the Wedge for a sunset beer on the patio with the gang. Visitors from far and wide are finishing up at the Biltmore House ascending on Wicked Weed. The line out the door does not mean it is the only brewery in town.  The mugginess of this July day is swept up by a mountain breeze whipping across Lexington Ave up along Woodfin Ave and over Broadway. I lift my head back to take in the cooling relief while gazing up at the whisping straw of the tiki umbrella.

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A steamy summer Saturday night in July.  A local waves farewell to his friends at the River Cleanup, jumps on his bike and heads to The Wedge for a sunset beer on the patio with the gang. Visitors from far and wide are finishing up at the Biltmore House ascending on Wicked Weed. The line out the door does not mean it is the only brewery in town.  The mugginess of this July day is swept up by a mountain breeze whipping across Lexington Ave up along Woodfin Ave and over Broadway. I lift my head back to take in the cooling relief while gazing up at the whisping straw of the tiki umbrella.

As darkness ascends I take a drag of my cigerrette, smile and nod toward the bar keep signaling I am ready for another. Stephanie, the Lazy Diamond’s afternoon bartender is the gatekeeper at this locals favorite starting point.  Diamond is my preferred choice to begin an evening of downtown debauchary and I know she will be their at closing time, for a final drink and lively tune.

Your Bar fly is in a mood tonight.  The breeze brought with it a sense of adventure.  Quickly folks gather and I find myself chatting up everyone on the patio; trading stories of our favorite new places and sharing spots in Asheville we have yet to visit.  It is amazing how fast bars, breweries and pubs pop up around here.  Each of us had a new spot to share.  My suggestion was to take an away team from Lazy toward the south slope to check in on Public School, a new joint on Banks Ave.  My two favorite gals quickly volunteer to flag an Uber and head to school.

South Slope is becoming the brewery district and you will get no complaints from me about that! South Slope is fun, easy to find and has so many hidden gems that Barfly will be a busy, tipsy chick for months to come.  Public House is the newest place I’ve yet to visit so off we go.

I lived in Portland another lifetime ago and remember fondly McMinnimins Kennedy School, a popular bar and restaurant. The detention room was the smoking lounge, they had soaking pools, a jazz bar in the library and open air courtyards.  It was a magical.  Owners transformed a long abondaoned elementary school into the North Sides favorite place to meet and drink.  The Asheville Public School was neither public, nor a school.   Our Uber dropped us out front where we were met with a cheerful young lad taking membership dues. So Public School is a social club. No complaints, however I am not sure how many more vistaprint bar membership cards my little billfold can hold.  It might start to make people question my alcohol dependency.

Bars to me are like sex… Even when it’s bad, it’s good.  The last thing I want to be with this column is some trite whiney tart spitting jager on my readers’ dreams.

public school bar
Photo Courtesy of Public School | Facebook
My immediate thought as I walked up the steps toward the door?  “My, there are a lot of polo shirts and boat shoes.” When I think back to my public school days I think of black heavy metal t-shirts and scary chicks with big hair and a ton of eyeliner.  Second thing I noticed was the music.  The Cure. Yes, The Cure is great; The Cure helped form me as a jaded young girl. The Cure was dark, mysterious. The clientele here, however, was not.  A plethora of “pink pop” polo shirts, kakhi shorts and an overwhelming smell of chlorine combined with the wailing of Robert Smith was disorienting to say the least.  Add to that the brightly lit large cavernous bar area echoing with at least a dozen conversations at once.  I realized, it must be the cafeteria at public school they are going for?

It’s not you, Public School, it is me. My expectations were from another time, another place, another wing of the school. I must have misinterpreted what the owners were going for. Atmosphere is only a tiny factor in the overall grade.  While I give it a C,  the true test is the bartender and the pour.  Public School got an A on both.  The bartenders were spot on, light flirtation yet high professionalism.  It has to be said though, if the decor is the cafeteria the lead bartender is the Phys Ed teacher. Damn baby you are built!  My companions and I were taken by his physique and boyish good looks.  We stopped short of cat calling because that is sexist. The drinks are strong and served up fast. This just isn’t the place for me to linger. I think Barfly is more comfortable in a less sanitary drinking establishment.  Time to head off.

Yacht Club

Now what do you picture when you think of a Yacht Club?  Miami Vice white blazers, boat chases and drug cartels?  The Kardashians?  Mr. and Mrs. Howell?  Yeah me too; however in Asheville nothing is as you would expect. Truth be told I have been to the Yacht Club many times.  It is a favorite.  Just enough dirty biker dive bar to keep most tourists away but accessible enough for locals and visitors with a clue.

This particular Saturday night was a mixed bag.  A group of rowdy rocker types at a booth, a gaggle of kakhi short frat boys at the bar and then my favorite shady, bearded bad boys at the door.  The music was loud, the smokers guarded the sidewalk and the servers had just enough attitude to keep the place interesting.  It is the Yacht Club: the interior looks like an old pirate ship, there is a crowd at the bar almost the entire night.  My companions and I ordered Vodka Tonics all night and did not pay for a single one. A male tourist across the room did his best to impress us by paying our bar tab and asking if we would hang with him if his date didn’t return. Hey that sounds reasonable, so bottoms up! Go to the Yacht Club for the atmosphere and stay for the strong pour and and zero ego. The Yacht Club gives zero shits. If it wasn’t situated in the mountains it could easily be a salty pub serving sunburned sandy patrons at the docks.

Two different bars, each with a name that does nothing to describe what they are really made of.  Both score high on staff attentiveness, drink potency and benign patrons.   Yacht Club eases way ahead on atmosphere and music.  Public School is perfect for when your parents come to visit, or after a vigourous game of disc golf.   Both had clean well appointed bathrooms as well.

Yacht Club- 4 out of 5 Barflies  | 87 Patton Ave Asheville
Public School- 2 out of 5 Barflies | 32 Banks Ave. Asheville

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Step Into Days of Old at Crow and Quill http://ashevilleblog.com/step-into-days-of-old-at-crow-and-quill/ http://ashevilleblog.com/step-into-days-of-old-at-crow-and-quill/#respond Tue, 21 Jul 2015 02:11:59 +0000 http://ashevilleblog.com/?p=8776 It's elementary my dear Watson... If you serve beer and a bourbon for $7 the locals will caw caw for the Crow and Quill.  

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It’s elementary my dear Watson… If you serve beer and a bourbon for $7 the locals will caw caw for the Crow and Quill.

Yes, the mystery has been uncovered for sometime as to what lies behind the closed curtains and dark doors of a Lexington Ave storefront.  My investigation of this already local favorite began at the invitation of a friend and photographer. She was displaying her works and hosting a fun burlesque striptease act as part of the celebration. As soon as I entered the room I felt transported to another time in history.  I gazed around at the vintage sofas, woven rugs and dark wooden trim, old books, board games and a sense of older times.

Suddenly I started to desire a cigarette on a long stem. Perhaps I was sipping a cocktail whilst waiting for my steamer trunk to arrive from some exotic port.  Maybe I was set to meet a tall dark stranger to exchange microfilm and dangerous flirtation. Or perhaps I watched way too much Fantasy Island as a young girl. Either way, mysteries abound at the Crow and Quill.

What is it about a place that transports you to another time, another genre in history, a place that turns you into a character in your favorite book?  Maybe I have an overactive imagination. However, I work downtown and do not get away much so I appreciate the departure from reality.The night had a sense of magic about it. The air smelled oiled and polished. Spice permeated the room as laughter wafted throughout.

My friend led me to the bar which looked like a mix between a gold rush era saloon and a turn of the century science lab. The impeccably dressed bartenders yielded their pestle and mortar on fresh mint, lemon and basil. I was transfixed; the sensory overload was glorious.   I hadn’t even tried a drink and this was already my favorite bar. I am not the only one who has quickly fallen like a maiden on a fainting couch for this place. A glance at their Facebook page shows the huge number of folks enamoured by this mint; this gem; this libation destination.

Every inch of the Crow and Quill offers a resting place for the eyes and a feast for the senses.  A large antique birdcage, a wall of dried herbs and flowers, ornate mirrors and a sparking row upon glorious row of bourbon bottles and tincture viles.

I..have…died…and…gone… to…heaven.

I reached for my glass, the warm tingling rush of bourbon sealed the deal. It affected me so I asked the gentlemen seated across from me for a cigarette.  Like magic an entire pack appeared before me (I do not even smoke).  If you are into the typical Asheville woo woo way of thinking, you may accuse the Crow and Quill of existing on another dimension. An alternate reality if you will. This is the Hotel California and I never want to check out.

If you need to take in a bit of air venture out to the open courtyard. It is tiny, and feels like something out of an Edgar Allen Poe writing. This is a perfect spot to take in the moonlight, catch your bearings and ready yourself for round two at the bar.

If The Crow and Quill was a man I would be offering up my finest dowry to be wed to this place forever.  Looking forward to my next great escape very soon!

xoxo
– The Barfly

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Asheville Bar Fly: Buffalo Nickel http://ashevilleblog.com/asheville-bar-fly-buffalo-nickel/ http://ashevilleblog.com/asheville-bar-fly-buffalo-nickel/#respond Sat, 09 May 2015 00:10:18 +0000 http://ashevilleblog.com/?p=8305 No visit to Boho West Asheville is complete without a stop at the “Buff Nick”, enjoy a chic craft beer in one of the few dog free bars on the Westside. Tuesday is trivia night, enjoy watching the finest minds in Asheville down cheap draft beer whilst outwitting themselves for your amusement. KIDS EAT FREE. So grab your hats and brats and head on down to The Buffalo Nickel.

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Your friendly neighborhood lush, the Asheville Barfly
Your friendly neighborhood lush, the Asheville Barfly

No visit to Boho West Asheville is complete without a stop at the “Buff Nick”, enjoy a chic craft beer in one of the few dog free bars on the Westside. Tuesday is trivia night, enjoy watching the finest minds in Asheville down cheap draft beer whilst outwitting themselves for your amusement. KIDS EAT FREE. So grab your hats and brats and head on down to The Buffalo Nickel.

Don’t take any wooden nickels” my Dad always said. If those wooden nickels could be traded in for whiskey drinks I’d do a lap dance. Other then the covetted Aldi cart quarter who even carries loose change anymore?

On a chilly spring evening your trusty Barfly and her wing women flew off to the gritty, rough and tumble section of Haywood road that is quickly becoming hipster hangout. The hippie skirts are being replaced by flannel shirts and skinny jeans. One place to watch the transition happen in real time is at The Buffalo Nickel, located at 747 Haywood Road.

Described as an American style Gastro-pub and craft cocktail hangout. Barfly’s initial impression? A mullet – business and class in the front, party in the back. Upon entry the layout is a bit polished and shiny. The decor is hip, not hippie, as in your wooden nickels are no good here but your bank card certainly is.

The bartenders are a handsome crew. Perfectly groomed and polished. Some may have come direct from their shift at Abercrombie and Fitch. The entire staff match the uptown rustic vibe of the Nickel perfectly. No required amount of flair on this crew. (thankfully!) The room for improvement comes with attentiveness. It takes a bit of of work to catch the barkeeps eye for a refill and the response is more aloof then alert. Remember I said last week to respect your bartenders? It is not that the Buff Nick barkeeps were rude, just absent. Barfly suggests a bit more attentiveness when the rocks glass is nothing but rocks. There wasn’t a crowd at the bar so this was especially frustrating for my bar crawl companion. The Nickel could also stand to stiffen those drinks just a tad, they were a bit weak compared to the surrounding pubs and bars we visited.

Please note your bill when you do cash out -the drink specials were not reflected in my bill and I was charged full price. I hope it was just a simple mistake but it was enough to raise an eyebrow. Attention to details and attentiveness gets a 2 on the barfly scale. If your customer is sober they will notice this infraction but after 4 or 5 vodka tonic specials who is still sober?

Buffalo NickelThe best part of Buffalo Nickel is the relaxed, loft space upstairs. The vibe is “rustic retreat” or “trendy tavern” I LOVED the high ceilings and large beams. Buffalo Nickel really is a beautiful space especially the “Rumpus Room” as they call it. Free pool tables, TV’s everywhere, foosball, pin ball and more! It would be wonderful for them to consider inviting a local musician in from time to time as the background music was mostly classic rock the night I was there. This space is more a place to gather the buddies and watch the game, perhaps play a few rounds of pool or a game of trivia over a few pitchers of beer, but then I learned they don’t sell pitchers. They do however provide servers in the game room area. There are also a few relaxed seating areas upstairs to stretch out and throw back a few pints. No outdoor seating yet but rumor has it a deck is in the works, fingers crossed.

The chic ambiance, the fashionista staff, the uptown ecclectic menu and the lack of beer pitchers are what might prevent the Buffalo Nickel from being classified a true neighborhood sports bar, but what do I know? Maybe, (like everything else in town these days) the neighborhood sports bar is evolving in West Asheville? Truth be told I am kind of confused as to what the Buffalo Nickel is. The pub food selection is limited and disjointed. I liked the Pork Sliders, but I didn’t really understand anything else. The dinner menu while ecclectic and fun is a tad overwhelming. Perhaps this is a Brooklyn hipster pub for upwardly mobile rednecks? The jury is still out. Let’s eat and then decide. I really only came for the booze.

Buffalo Nickel Overall Rating– 3.5 Barflies

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Introducing the Asheville Bar Fly http://ashevilleblog.com/introducing-the-asheville-bar-fly/ http://ashevilleblog.com/introducing-the-asheville-bar-fly/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 19:35:10 +0000 http://ashevilleblog.com/?p=8014 Hi sweet lovely fellow semi conscious almost always hungover kindred spirits in a rocks glass!  I am your voluptuous, rowdy, randy and almost always tipsy friend the Asheville Bar Fly!  A sparkly, glittery half drunk version of course, but not one that will be easily pigeon holed.  My persona is about as ADD as my focus on the task at hand... just know that you are loved, you are important and you will be a more informed drunk each week after our session.   The back wash of the back story begins long ago in a bar room far away. 

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Hello sweet, lovely, fellow semi conscious almost always hungover kindred spirits in a rocks glass!  I am your voluptuous, rowdy, randy and almost always tipsy friend the Asheville Bar Fly!  A sparkly, glittery half drunk version of course, but not one that will be easily pigeon holed.  My persona is about as ADD as my focus on the task at hand… just know that you are loved, you are important and you will be a more informed drunk each week after our session.   The back wash of the back story begins long ago in a bar room far away.

One of my very first memories on this planet was pouring a beer for my uncle Billy from the tap in his billiards room out in Denver, Colorado in 198-something.  I was the only female in a room full of cowboy boot clad, pipe smoking transplants from Brooklyn NY.  Part Joey Soprano, part Cisco kid.

So these days formed my little life… from then on it has been one big party!  With just a splash of drama and intrigue.

Yes, I have been a bartender, an event coordinator, a server, a concert goer, a drunk chick puking in a bush outside. It is safe to say that from coast to coast I make myself comfortable next to the socialite or the social miscreant. But enough about me… this little fun series is not about me!  It’s about you… it’s about us, it’s about our livers and the amazing steps we take to destroy it on the streets of Asheville!!   So grab a local brew, a mojito, a sour, a vodka tonic or even, gasp, a PBR. Let’s get down about the nightlife in this town. (11am if you are new here)

If you are a bar keep or venue owner reading this weekly, just think of it as friendly feedback. Bars are like sex to me, even when it is bad it is still good – so don’t get your martini’s in a bunch. I really will find the great in even the most questionable situation. I promise I can laugh at myself if you can do the same!

Here in this fine city the amount of nightspots, breweries, pubs, grills, bars, taprooms, tapas bars, dance clubs and piano bars has nearly doubled, and will continue to do so as other areas of Asheville are uncovered and discovered.  Stay humble as you open your doors. You never know when I am going to pop in for a cold one!  Sometimes I will be solo, as I like to travel alone, however from time to time I will invite along some pub crawling partners in crime!!!

For each article, the places we choose will be rated on the following criteria on a scale from 1-5 Barflies

First Impressions– Is it a mall sports bar?  Fancy Schamancy hotel loungy?  Cruise Ship?  Lynard Skynard? Home Sweet Home?  The type will present itself before you reach the bar. We all have our favorites, but as I mentioned before, many a grand time has been at the brass covered monstrosity in the lobby of the Holiday Inn..

Bartender– The bartender is the star of the show at any establishment and as such they play a role like an actor in a play.  The bartender conveys the tone of the bar or pub, they set the structure of behavior for others to follow. With your bartender remember- respect is given NOT EARNED.  You are being interviewed by them. Yes, I put the bartender on a pedestal first.  Humble yourself before them. Before you start bashing your bartender have a few drinks and watch them interact with other customers, with your drink order, and with the other staff. Just because they failed to quickly deliver doesn’t mean they suck for all eternity. However, once we realize that they have not only given up on bar tending but on life itself?  Settle Up!

The Drinks– Beer served cold?  Good Pour? Clean glass, boozy enough drink?  Yes I have spent a lot of time in a bar but I will not be breaking down the alcohol contents of the beer or picking out the note of bacon in the IPA.  I am not a beer or cocktail snob. I am the chick that mixed Koolaide and slow gin in a bucket with grapes and called it a dinner party. This is going to be pure opinion. If you serve me a margarita in a piping hot glass straight out of the dishwasher, it will be noted.   xoxo

The Bathrooms

  • Ladies Room- I could pass out cold in here and sleep like a baby
  • Ladies DOOM!   – Jenny, Jenny I dialed your number to get me the Hell out of here!!   Forget 8675309
  • This Powder Room needs 911
  • Pub Food (if applicable)
  • Clientele
  • Misc undiscovered categories which might include tourist count and hipster equivalent. I love both and will poke fun equally!!

Join me next week as I give you the lowdown on The Asheville Music Hall and The Buffalo Nickel!!!!   CHEERS!!!

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Frommer’s Tourism Guide: You’ve got the wrong idea about Asheville http://ashevilleblog.com/frommers-tourism-guide-youve-got-wrong-idea-asheville/ http://ashevilleblog.com/frommers-tourism-guide-youve-got-wrong-idea-asheville/#comments Sun, 04 Jan 2015 23:34:54 +0000 http://ashevilleblog.com/?p=7202 Asheville has been making top 10 lists for years, driving tourists to our fair city by the droves. As much as the locals complain about tourist season, people understand that tourism dollars are a crucial part of Asheville's annual budget. It always makes us feel warm fuzzes inside seeing the city we love top another list. When the reasons for being added to the list are grossly misleading, however, it can make those warm fuzzies turn into seeds of rage. 

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Asheville has been making top 10 lists for years, driving tourists to our fair city in droves. As much as the locals complain about tourist season, people understand that tourism dollars are a crucial part of Asheville’s annual budget. It always makes us feel warm fuzzes inside seeing the city we love top another list. When the reasons for being added to the list are grossly misleading, however, it can make those warm fuzzies turn into seeds of rage.

Last week on a New Year’s Day appearance on Good Morning America, the owner of national travel guide Pauline Frommer got it all wrong when addressing the audience of Good Morning America during her segment. Frommer informed viewers that one of her organization selected Asheville to appear on the 2015 top destinations to travel list, was “because the sketchy riverside area has been totally redone thanks to the New Belgium Brewery, which has poured millions of dollars into this area, making new parks, artists collectives, farmers markets, bike paths. It’s just a great place to go. It has the most breweries per capita, so always a party.”

New Belgium only has recently started construction on their grounds, and has been met with skepticism from some area residents, alongside of the enthusiastic warm welcome that Asheville naturally offers. For a new entity that won’t be opening doors until 2016 to be unfairly credited with the revitalization of the River Arts District (RAD), is enough to turn residents sour. Our River Arts District has a rich history, and has been undergoing positive changes and revitalization for a number of years, turning it into an artist oasis.

The Western North Carolina Farmers Market was first opened in 1977, long before Asheville had ever dreamed that a brewery like New Belgium would be coming to town. A few locals we talked to about the ‘sketchiness’ of the River Arts District expressed dismay at the thought, noting that the area has been undergoing positive changes for well over 10 years, and that locals have not, in recent memory, associated the word ‘sketchy’ with our beloved RAD. So, one naturally wonders: where does the information like this come from? We approached our contact at New Belgium Brewery to get their thoughts about the Frommer segment.

We spoke with Susanne Hackett, New Belgium Community and Media Relations Specialist and a proud nine year resident of West Asheville to find out more. Susanne assured us that New Belgium did not source this story, nor were they even aware of their involvement in this story.

“It’s absolutely inaccurate for Frommer’s to credit New Belgium for the awesomeness of the River Arts District. We did not source this story and were not contacted by anyone regarding our inclusion in it or to fact check.”

“Our brewery is being built in West Asheville, across the river from the RAD. We do support strong bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and have given a section of our property to the City to develop a public greenway, as well as gave an easement onto our property to improve Craven Street into a complete street. It takes and has taken a village. We are a new member of the village and are working to do our part, just a part.”

The disparity between reported facts and the true story is what makes us here at AshevilleBlog sometimes hold our heads in agony. It is one reason why our staff takes the time to approach all parties involved, and get as much of the full story as possible. We recognize that while some people are hesitant to hop on the New Belgium bandwagon, we ask that our readers don’t use Pauline Frommer’s ill spoken words to judge the RAD, or New Belgium.

If you are looking for ways to support RAD, or stay on top of the latest happenings, check out the River Arts District website: www.RiverArtsDistrict.com. If you are interested in donating time or money to a River Arts related cause, RiverLink is a nonprofit that works on revitalizing the French Broad River. Riverlink has poured years of work into the RAD, and continually supports the artists and businesses that reside in that area. Find out more about Riverlink here: http://riverlink.org

Asheville readily embraced the ‘cesspool of sin’ slogan. Perhaps we can vow to ‘keep Asheville sketchy’, as well.

Watch the video of the Frommer segment below:

 

More ABC News Videos | ABC World News

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Thrifty Christmas: Favorite Secondhand Store to Christmas Shop At http://ashevilleblog.com/thrifty-christmas-favorite-secondhand-store-christmas-shop/ http://ashevilleblog.com/thrifty-christmas-favorite-secondhand-store-christmas-shop/#respond Mon, 22 Dec 2014 18:23:06 +0000 http://ashevilleblog.com/?p=7076 Thrift stores. What was once a lost and lonely place to shop has now become trendy and cool. With rappers boasting about popping tags and tv shows based on what you can "thrift-for-less", it just really leaves a broke girl with slim pickin's some times at the neighborhood junk shop. Also, this media frenzy has caused some thrift stores to raise their prices! Yes, you know who you are. With that all being said, I do want to share with you my Top 5 Favorite Local Thrift stores. 

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Thrift stores. What was once a lost and lonely place to shop has now become trendy and cool. With rappers boasting about popping tags and tv shows based on what you can “thrift-for-less”, it just really leaves a broke girl with slim pickin’s some times at the neighborhood junk shop. Also, this media frenzy has caused some thrift stores to raise their prices! Yes, you know who you are. With that all being said, I do want to share with you my Top 5 Favorite Local Thrift stores.

Wait a second. Should I share this list? Then you will go and pick out all the good stuff! Ok, ok. I figure most of you might already be perusing these places anyway. Tis the season for giving right? Merry Christmas!

What makes a thrift store one of my favorites you ask? A) Location. I don’t want to drive 30 miles and spend tons of gas money to get there. Unless it is a girls event where we carpool and we are “thrifting” for the day, I will keep it local! B) Price. I will NOT pay $25 for an ugly Christmas sweater. Just saying. C) Inventory. It can be a small store with just a few racks but if it’s good stuff then it gets an A+ from me. It can be a large store with a ton of mediocre stuff and if it’s priced well it gets an A+ from me too. I don’t mind to dig as long as there are some gems and the inventory is refreshed often.

  • #5: Rescue Mission Clearance Center (Formerly Samaritan Shoppe)
    • Where: 624 Patton Avenue, Asheville
    • Why: Even before it switched to a Rescue Mission Thrift there has always been a large selection here. Some of the items are in bins but that has never scared me. Lots of digging to be done but hey, the price is right at a clearance center!
  • #4: Refuge Ministries Thrift Store
    • Where: 3049 Hendersonville Road, Fletcher 
    • Why: Cool thing about this place is that you make them an offer on the loot you want to walk out with! Simple as that. I always make my offer on the higher end because it is a great charity. Not a lot of merch but is worth it for the one gem that you do find.
  • #3: Rescue Mission Thrift Store
    • Where: 901 Smokey Park Highway, Asheville
    • Why: Another Rescue Mission I know BUT I find some of the best name brand clothes here. Prices are reasonable but sometimes high. Still, if it’s a J.Crew sweater and it’s in good condition, you’re saving some serious cash and going green at the same time. Win-Win. Your money is going towards an excellent charity with any Rescue Mission Thrift Store.
  • #2: Hospice Thrift Store
    • Where: 105 Fairview Road, Asheville
    • Why: This place almost made my number one. It is the best on prices. They are still rocking the $1 rack and they have MAJOR sales. Get on their mailing list and you’ll be notified of “stuff-a-bag” sale and all sorts of other specials. Your money is going to a great charity as well.
  • #1: Goodwill; Swannanoa/Black Mountain
    • Where: 3018 Hwy 70, Black Mountain
    • Why: I chose this as my number one choice because of their location and inventory. It’s close to my home and it is off the beaten path. Also, it is very well organized (as good as thrift stores can get) and seems to have a good rotating stock. I can’t tell you how many name brand shoes I have found there. I am recently disappointed with Goodwill and some of their pricing tricks. So my #2 may quickly become my #1. But for now, convenience and my frequency of visits made this one #1.

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Dining in Asheville … with Friends http://ashevilleblog.com/dining-in-asheville-friends/ http://ashevilleblog.com/dining-in-asheville-friends/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 22:23:55 +0000 http://ashevilleblog.com/?p=6832 Welcome back to Insider Asheville, a monthly feature here at AshevilleBlog. In this post, I examine the inherent problem related to dining on the town with friends. Actually, the inherent problem involves the types of friends you’re likely to have in this town and the chances of choosing a restaurant everyone will accept. In this true story, I’ve changed the names to protect the guilty.

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Welcome back to Insider Asheville, a monthly feature here at AshevilleBlog. In this post, I examine the inherent problem related to dining on the town with friends. Actually, the inherent problem involves the types of friends you’re likely to have in this town and the chances of choosing a restaurant everyone will accept. In this true story, I’ve changed the names to protect the guilty.

Getting together for a meal with friends often becomes an adventure requiring the deft touch of a sushi chef and the vast spread of a smorgasbord. While my tastes are simple — I’ll eat anything in any of Asheville’s fine restaurants, my friends’ palates resemble the engineering instructions of the International Space Station. Things just won’t line up. For example, Abigail is a vegetarian who occasionally strays into veganism without warning. Bette won’t eat gluten (not due to Celiac’s disease, just because). Carmine can’t tolerate legumes. Dieter tries to avoid carbohydrates, while Eli started a weird diet that lets him eat both carbs and protein, just not together. Then finally, there’s Francine, who won’t eat mushrooms, garlic or peas. And of course, all of us look for locally grown, organic food whenever possible. With friends like these, you’d think one of the many buffet options in town — or a pot luck dinner, where everyone brings something he can eat — would be a better choice than trying to find one restaurant that caters to everyone’s whims.

But no, my friends can be stubborn. No one wants to host, and we can’t agree on a buffet. Ideally, we’d have a personal chef (or seven), but that isn’t economically feasible. Besides, who has a kitchen big enough to contain a mess like that? Regardless, we’re still friends. We hike together. We drink together. We’re always looking for an excuse to enjoy a group meal. When we run out of birthdays, we’ll make up reasons: a successful acupuncture treatment, favorable (or unfavorable) election results, or surviving a hangover. When the email came in suggesting a group meal to mourn the loss of the autumn leaves, I could have predicted the dilemma. Instead, I jumped right in. “Great idea,” I replied to everyone, “I vote for Asiana.” I thought it a diplomatic choice since it’s one of those buffets that have something for everyone. “I won’t eat there,” wrote Francine. “Their food upsets my stomach.” I forgot that not everyone has a cast iron stomach like me. “OK, how about Nona Mia?” “No!” everyone responded. “Bette won’t eat wheat.” “Jack of the Wood has wheat-free options,” wrote Dieter, “and I’m in the mood for a burger.” “But Abigail’s a vegetarian,” Carmine shot back. And so it went.

My friends are a quirky bunch, as diverse as a box of crayons and as complex as a two-year-old’s artistic scrawl. Abigail’s a massage therapist. Bette works in a bike store. Carmine’s an entrepreneur. Dieter makes commercial videos. Eli’s a web programmer. Francine works for a no-pain dentist (which seems like an oxymoron to me). I also know chefs, counselors, even lawyers. Most but not all came from somewhere else: Florida, California, New Jersey, Colorado, Germany, and India, to name a few. Asheville is a smelting pot, but the diversity produces a single characteristic in every person who moves here: complexity. It’s this characteristic that drives the creative forces thriving in the city. It also makes eating out a challenge. “The Laughing Seed’s vegetarian,” Eli wrote. “I don’t like their food,” answered Bette. “What about Wasabi? Who doesn’t like sushi?” “I ate there last night,” Abigail countered. “OK,” I wrote, exasperated, “let’s go to Posana.” Posana Café serves gluten-free food and offers a variety of options, including vegetarian dishes. As a bonus, it’s located right across from Pack Square, in the heart of downtown. Miraculously, everyone agreed.

I arrived on time and met Eli. After we got a table and exchanged jokes, the others trickled in one by one. Abigail came last, over a half hour late, guiding her four-year-old daughter into the restaurant. “A neighbor came over for a play date and didn’t want to leave,” she explained. Someone in the group was always late, and the rest of us always waited. That’s just how it is. When the waitress wandered back to our table, I warned her right up front that we were troublemakers, but big tippers. Like most other waitresses, she likely thought I was exaggerating, but the disclaimer gave my friends permission to go as far over the top as they wished. As usual, they didn’t disappoint me.

Ordering food often resembles a scene out of When Harry Met Sally. “I want the salad, but with no onions or mushrooms. Instead, can I get extra tomatoes? Oh, and put the dressing on the side. Do you have bleu cheese vinaigrette?” “I’ll take the fish, grilled, but with no coating or spices, especially no cilantro — I’m allergic — just a little lemon, and make sure it’s cooked through.” “Give me the chicken special, but with an extra helping of the vegetables. I’ll pay for it if I have to. And I’d like to substitute white rice for the polenta.” I’m sure the waitress was still shell-shocked when she returned to the kitchen.

Maybe other groups of friends have this kind of problem in other cities. Maybe someone always ends up bringing his own meal. I don’t know. I do know that Asheville is a unique place full of interesting, creative, and hard-to-please people. Especially when we all get together for a meal. In a town that probably has as many yoga studios as gas stations, it’s only natural that friends won’t compromise when it comes to their peculiar diets.

Look for more Insider Asheville blogs in the coming months.

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How Locals Survive the Local Economy http://ashevilleblog.com/locals-survive-local-economy/ http://ashevilleblog.com/locals-survive-local-economy/#respond Thu, 25 Sep 2014 20:01:27 +0000 http://ashevilleblog.com/?p=6508 In this issue of Insider Asheville, I shine some light on what the locals do to survive week to week when the minimum wage job isn’t enough to put food on the family table. You might think it involves government assistance or shoplifting, but you’d be wrong. Ashevillians are a proud bunch. We don’t just talk sustainability, we live it too.

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In this issue of Insider Asheville, I shine some light on what the locals do to survive week to week when the minimum wage job isn’t enough to put food on the family table. You might think it involves government assistance or shoplifting, but you’d be wrong. Ashevillians are a proud bunch. We don’t just talk sustainability, we live it too.

For every Asheville native, there are 20 transplants [Ed: this is a made-up statistic]. And transplants bring with them one or more of the following:

• A nest egg
• Retirement savings
• A telecommuting job
• Clients in another city or state
• A truckload of stuff to fill their newly bought home

Considering the Options
At least one of these things is necessary to ensure a successful transition from “visitor” to “resident.” It may take another 10 to 30 years to gain the “local” tag — it depends on your personality, community involvement and persistence. But that’s the subject of another article.

Many have come to stay in Asheville, only to leave in disgrace and heartbreak a few years later. What does it take to survive? Well, nothing speaks louder than money in the bank (or credit union), but not everyone is fortunate enough, talented enough, clever enough or old enough to have saved a boatload of cash.

If you have moved here to telecommute, you have found yourself in that sweet spot: the joys of living in Asheville without having to rely on local businesses and consumers. Whether you’re working for yourself or for someone else, you are telecommuting from paradise. Enjoy it while it lasts.

For the rest of us, we do whatever it takes to stay solvent while living here in Asheville. Some take temp jobs. Some wait tables. Some write cheeky blog posts. But every transplant, at one time or another, has sold some of the stuff brought along to fill the house. Often, the stuff we sell is books.

Used Books to Eat
No one can eat a book, which is why we sell them. Here in Asheville, it’s handy to know the landscape and to have a plan to get the most meat out of your books, so to speak. Here’s a rundown of the Asheville used booksellers.

The Captain’s Bookshelf (captainsbookshelf.com) at 31 Page Avenue specializes in fine and rare books. If you’ve got a first edition, a signed edition, or a seriously old or rare volume, take it to the Captain for the best price in town. Don’t just show up, though, set up an appointment.

The Battery Park Book Exchange (batterybookexchange.com) is not only a great place to linger over a glass of wine with your dog; it’s also a business that will buy your used books, especially if they have a local flavor (fiction, history, cooking, etc.). Even if it’s not about Asheville, North Carolina, or the South, try the BPBE before going elsewhere. Make an appointment with Kyle or Thomas.

Old reliable Downtown Books & News (downtownbooksandnews.com) is a great venue for selling used books, but only on Friday or Saturday. They also buy DVDs, if you still have any of those. The best thing about selling your books here, besides the fair prices they pay, is that it’s right downtown! Cross the street to Izzy’s Coffee Den while you wait. They offer cash or credit.

If you’ve hit all the above businesses and still have inventory to sell, take it to Mr. K’s Used Books, Music and More (mrksusedbooks.com). They’ll often take the rest, including CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray, vinyl, audiobooks, books-on-CD, and even electronics. I go here last because their prices often are lower and they categorize all purchases, meaning that if you sell books and get credit, you can’t use that credit to buy a DVD.

The best strategy for selling books is to pace your loads. Don’t dump everything at once; bring in one box at a time, and you’ll likely sell more. Listen to this voice of experience because even successful blog writers occasionally need extra beer money … um, I mean food money.

Look for more Insider Asheville blogs in the coming months.

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