Asheville’s restaurant landscape continued to change in 2021.
Restaurants closed, made their debut, reopened with a new vision and expanded to new and better locations. And 2022 is set up for many more to come both this winter and throughout the year.
Restaurants that closed in 2021
A couple of family-owned neighborhood staples closed after decades of serving customers.
In September, Pomodoros Café closed in South Asheville. Owners Tommy and Michelle Tsiros owned the restaurant that was a go-to for Greek and Italian cuisine.
“I’m not completely retiring, I’m just retiring from this phase,” Tommy Tsiros told the Citizen Times. “Twenty-seven years in this industry is along, long time and we’ve been blessed.”
Happy Hill Restaurant is another example of how all good things must come to an end. After more than 50 years, the family business will close permanently as the owners, Mike and Emily Lawrence, take a much-deserved rest. The Patton Avenue diner was due to close by Christmas Day.
Other restaurants to close include High Test Deli and Sweet Shop and Deluxe Café and Wine Bar in Woodfin.
Restaurants that opened in 2021
The long list of restaurants that opened includes Strictly Wings, Udon Sushi and Noodle, El Patron Subs and Grill and Vinnie’s Neighborhood Italian. El Águila Honduran Kitchen and Brazil Bar & Grill opened in Arden. And Gustoso Ristorante and The Dawg House opened in Spruce Pine.
In May, Andaaz, a fine-dining Indian restaurant, opened in Biltmore Village.
In June, The S&W Market, Asheville’s first food hall, opened downtown with vendors The Hop Ice Cream, Highland Brewing Co., Buxton Chicken Palace, Bun Intended, Farm Dogs, Peace Love Tacos, Circa 29 and The Times Bar.
In September, Morsel Cookie Co. went from pop-up to permanent placement on Weaverville Highway in Asheville.
In October, Harvest Pizzeria opened on the South Slope. The tri-level renovated restaurant offering gourmet, farm-to-table wood-fired oven pizzas and a rooftop view is on Banks Ave.
In November, The Madness opened a new location for the sushi-burger joint on Merrimon Avenue in Asheville. It came nearly a year after the restaurant debuted on Smokey Park Highway in Candler in 2020.
In November, Huli Sue’s BBQ and Grill opened in Grove Arcade. The Hawaiian restaurant blends Southern dishes and flavors in its menu of barbecue, burgers, sandwiches and more.
In the same month, Little Chango opened on the South Slope. The Hispanic craft kitchen specializes in Latin American cuisine with Puerto Rican and Cuban flavors and styles infused. Arepas top the menu at the little restaurant geared toward diners with big appetites.
Earthling Coffee and Espresso closed its drive-thru shack on Smokey Park Highway and moved into a larger brick and mortar store at Asheville Outlets. The galaxy-themed coffee business offers custom beverages of the caffeinated, highly caffeinated and non-caffeinated varieties with nearly 5.2 million flavor combinations available.
In early December, Holeman and Finch opened with a full model designed after the Holeman and Finch Public House in Atlanta. James Beard Award-winning chef Linton Hopkins and Gina Hopkins revamped the space, which temporarily was home of the H&F Burger until the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I realized things needed to change,” Linton Hopkins told the Citizen Times. “For a year, it had just been operating as a to-go burger place and that was getting fixed in people’s minds, so we just had to reset it and call it Holeman and Finch Public House where we create this full robust structure of what we do with whole animal, whole vegetable cooking.”
In December, the final touches were put on Green Sage Café’s downtown location after several months of being closed. The natural food-forward eatery and coffee bar is full renovated with modern accents. The revamped historic building brings a “new charm” to Broadway Street in downtown Asheville.
As of December, Early Girl Eatery is in soft opening mode at the restaurant’s new Hendersonville Road location.
Botanist & Barrel opened a tasting bar and bottle shop on Broadway Street in downtown Asheville. The Cedar Grove, North Carolina-based winemaker and cidery is known for small-batch, natural, bone-dry ciders.
Things are brewing in the vibrant beer world. A couple of notes of interest are Hi-Wire Brewing’s new beer garden and distribution center in the River Arts District. Also, Burial Beer Co. is expanding on Coxe Avenue and will include a wine bar and more barrels of brews.
Restaurants coming in 2022
Diners can anticipate another full year of new restaurants to visit in 2022. As restaurateurs take their ideas from planning to execution, the Citizen Times will be there to witness it all unfold.
Several things set to open early in the year:
Murasaki will soon take the place of the former Pomodoros Café on Long Shoals Road in South Asheville. The restaurant with custom sushi and ramen bars is expected to open after the final inspections.
Coming soon:Crumbl Cookies inches closer to Asheville debut
Crumbl Cookies was expected to open in November, but its Asheville debut has been delayed to Jan. 14, tentatively.
Itto’s Ramen Bar & Tapas will branch out to a third location, this one on Airport Road in Arden. The restaurant is expected to open in late December or January.
Amicizia is expected to open in January on Patton Avenue in West Asheville. The restaurant will be designed as a place for families with diners of all ages and as a place for friends to hang out. The Italian restaurant will feature the chef’s family recipes dating back several generations.
“We’re a family-style restaurant, and the goal here is to be a place where groups can come have fun. Part of the family-style is, ‘Let’s talk about what we’re going to order,’” Ben Logan, owner, told the Citizen Times. “The shared drinks, food and service are geared more toward groups and parties. What’s pretty unique for restaurants in Asheville is we’re looking to get kids in here, as well, as part of the whole group experience.”
Shiloh & Gaines coffee shop and bar is a new venture from The Blackbird’s owner/chef Michael Reppert. The venue is tentatively expected to open in March on Hendersonville Road in the Shiloh neighborhood.
Send tips on restaurant openings, closings and expansions to Tiana Kennell, food and dining reporter, at [email protected]. F follow her on Twitter/Instagram @PrincessOfPage.