Winter is generally a time to book reservations that can be hard to come by spring through fall. This year, restaurants are facing the uncertainty of the pandemic and working with community leaders to sustain and extend outdoor dining options. A handful of new endeavors are also popping up.

  • The “Asheville Shares Space” initiative that includes temporary “parklets” and shared streets has been expanded through Jan. 3, 2021, allowing businesses, like restaurants and retail, to expand into on-street parking areas for outdoor seating and continued operations with fresh air and space. The City of Asheville is also working with Asheville Independent Restaurant Association (AIR) on guidelines regarding outdoor heaters, tents and other structures and lighting. AIR has also been involved with the group purchase of 200 gas heaters for any area businesses in need.
  • Chef Meherwan Irani (Chai Pani and Spicewalla Spice Factory) just announced the concept for his new space in Asheville's Grove Arcade. Nani's Rotisserie Chicken will focus on takeout-friendly American comfort food: roasted chicken, familiar sides, sweet rolls and salads. Having to make a pivot on original plans for the space, the concept is both a product of, and an answer to, the pandemic.
  • Grind Coffee Co. in the River Arts District is a coffee café dedicated to social justice. Grind focuses on nurturing entrepreneurship under the guidance of Chef Gene Ettison and J. Hackett and is the first Black-owned coffee shop in Asheville. Equity memberships allow customers to support a burgeoning business owner. The café serves up Ettison’s Ashe-Hole donuts, branded coffee and other house-made treats.
  • New in Asheville’s South Slope district, Pie.Zaa Pizza is serving massive, bigger-than-your-head slices of New York-style pizza from lunchtime through late-night. Collaborations are on the horizon with special slices incorporating flavors and ideas from other restaurants and breweries. Slices can also be delivered to nearby South Slope watering holes.
  • New barbecue venture Ash & Brine has debuted as a pop-up restaurant at Asheville’s newest downtown brewery DSSOLVR. Operating on Thursdays and Fridays, Ash & Brine offers all-wood-smoked meats and innovative sides and small plates like grilled radish with mint, pistachio and honey-truffle chevre.
  • To the delight of locals and visitors, Asheville Ethiopian restaurant Addissae will soon reopen under new ownership after being shuttered during the pandemic. The restaurant serves traditional Ethiopian food in a family-style format.