Blog :: 03-2010

Green Monday - Developing Sustainable Regional Transportation (Asheville)

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3/19/2010 - Green Monday - Developing Sustainable Regional Transportation (Asheville)
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ASHEVILLE, NC - Can you imagine Asheville with 15-minute transit service on major corridors, where your kids could independently visit their friends? Do you want to bike or walk on a Greenway to work each day? Do you need sidewalks to connect your neighborhood with local businesses?

Envisioning a Low Carbon Transportation Future is the topic of the Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute's next Green Monday, March 22, 2010, from 3:00-5:00 p.m., in the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce second floor conference room. Admission is free and open to the public.

Our current transportation infrastructure occupies the largest portion of land, is the single highest federal spending infusion into Asheville, and has resulted in the highest sources of carbon emissions in Buncombe County. Is it possible to use pedestrian walkways, bicycles, vanpooling, carpooling, telecommuting, and flex-work schedules as a means to reduce carbon emissions and traffic congestion? How do we pay for it all?

Moderator Yuri Koslen, Transportation Planner for the City of Asheville, and panelists Mike Sule from Asheville on Bikes and Get There Asheville; Hanna Raskin from the Asheville Transit Commission; Bruce Emery, Transportation Planner with the Asheville Design Center; and Heather Strassberger, Transportation Regional Planner for Land of Sky and the French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization will explore these options and more. Please join us next Monday and add your voice to the conversation!

Green Mondays provide experts, regional leaders, citizens, and students with an open forum for understanding and advancing possible pathways to sustainability. Through its Green Monday series, the Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute intends to share information, solicit new ideas, and develop consensus in pursuit of sustainable community and economic development. Green Mondays are sponsored in part by the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and Progress Energy.

The mission of the Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute is to drive knowledge into action, solving societal problems today and for generations to come by harnessing world-class environmental, economic, and energy research to collaborations among researchers, educators, entrepreneurs, government officials and community activists.

For more information, please contact Janna Zonder at jzonder@blueridgesustainability.org or 828-505-3547. Or visit our website at www.blueridgesustainability.org.

 

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Spring races in Western North Carolina

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3/18/2010 - Spring races in Western North Carolina
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Edneyville Spring Fling 5K Run: Trail run starts at 9 a.m. Saturday at North Henderson High School. E-mail Bonita Siedentopf at Edneyville Elementary School at bsiedentopf @henderson.k12.nc.us. Register at active.com or www.edn.henderson .k12.nc.us/.

Spring into Action 5K Run/Walk:
Presented by the Junior League of Asheville. Starts at 8 a.m. March 27 at Biltmore Park Town Square. Entry fee is $25 by Friday, $35 after. Visit www.juniorleagueash eville.org for details and advance registration. On race day, runners are asked to bring a donation to be given to MANNA FoodBank.

10th annual DuPont State Forest Earth School 12K Trail Race:
Starts at 10 a.m. March 27, hosted by Jus' Running. The 7.4-mile race is a benefit for the DuPont State Forest. Visit www.jusrunning.com or pick up a race registration at Jus Running, 523 Merrimon Ave.

Run for the Paws 5K:
Brother Wolf Animal Rescue's inaugural Run for the Paws 5K and 1 mile dog walk starts at 1:30 p.m. March 28 at Fletcher Park to benefit the no-kill animal shelter. Call 808-9435, or visit www.bwar.org.

Black Mountain Greenway Challenge:
The 5K/10K race is to raise awareness and support for the Greenway. Races start at 1 p.m. April 3 at Pisgah Brewery in Black Mountain. Benefits the Black Mountain Greenway Commission. Visit www.bmtgreenwaychallenge.org/.

Lake Junaluska Bunny Run:
The inaugural Lake Junaluska Bunny Run 5K and 10K races will start at 9 a.m. April 3 as part of the Lake Junaluska Conference & Retreat Center's Easter celebration. Visit www.lakejunaluska.com.

WCU Spring Sprint 5K:
Starts at 9:30 a.m. April 10, hosted by the Western Carolina Physical Therapy Student Association. Contact Rudolph at rudolph.brett@gmail.com or 270-556-8433.

WCU Full Spectrum Farms 5K Walk and Run:
Starts at 8:30 a.m. April 17, hosted by the WCU National Student Speech Language Hearing Association and Campus Recreation and Wellness, will benefit Full Spectrum Farms, an organization committed to serving people who have autism. Download form at http://reccenter.wcu.edu or call 828-227-7069.

Mainstay Mountain Medley:
The sixth annual Mountain Medley 5K and 10-mile starts at 9 a.m. April 17 at Camp Green Cove at Lake Summit will benefit Mainstay Inc., Henderson County's agency for the prevention of domestic violence. Register at www.Active.com. Call 693-3840 or visit www.mainstayhelp.org.

Falafel 5K:
Third annual Falafel 5K Run/Walk and Camp Ruach Fun Run starts at 10 a.m. April 18 at the Asheville Jewish Community Center, 229 Murdock Ave., Asheville. Visit www.jcc-asheville.org or register online at www.active.com.

Conquer A Cove 5K:
The 5K Race/Health Walk starts at 2:15 p.m. April 18 at the Mount Pisgah Academy in Candler. Benefits the students of MPA and Asheville-Pisgah Christian School and The Hope Chest for Women. All cancer survivors who cross the finish line will receive special recognition. Call 418-1344 or visit www.pisgah.us/apcs/race/index.html.
Karen Chávez

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All of Pack Square is Now Open to the Public

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3/18/2010 - All of Pack Square is Now Open to the Public
by Jeff Fobes

All of Pack Square park is now open to the public

Ben Teague, of the Asheville Chamber of Commerce, took this picture from the top of the Biltmore Building today.

Here's the latest on the park, from Pack Square Conservancy:

The hardscape area in Reuter Terrace opened March 17, and all the fences have been removed. Park visitors can now navigate the full length of the park on foot. The sidewalk on the north side of Reuter Terrace provides handicap access between Roger McGuire Green and Pack Square. There are lots of places to sit in Reuter Terrace, and it will be just a few weeks before the new fountain in that area is turned on. Take special notice of the sculptural railing on the observation point that was designed and built by Black Mountain artist Julia Burr.
The sod in Reuter Terrace was installed during the past month and will be off limits until it has a chance to become established. The crew is also installing sod on the south side of Roger McGuire Green in front of the new tavern that will open next month. That area has remained under construction until recently.
After being off limits for about six months, the large lawn in the central and northern portions of Roger McGuire Green is open and visitors are welcome.  The grass will become greener over the next few weeks and will be in prime shape for the numerous events that are scheduled for the months ahead.
The Conservancy plans to install a visitors' kiosk in Reuter Terrace sometime this summer. Watch for information about the kiosk and upcoming events in the park.

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Big Asheville Wine & Food fest announced for this August

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3/15/2010 - Big Asheville Wine & Food fest announced for this August
by WNC Magazine

WNC magazine and Asheville Wine & Food Festival Partner to Create a Premier Wine and Culinary Event for the Area

Asheville, NC - WNC magazine and its parent company, GulfStream Communications, announce they will partner with the Asheville Wine & Food Festival to cultivate the premier wine and food event for Western North Carolina. The festival, now in its second year, will take place on August 14, 2010, at the WNC Agricultural Center. It will bring together regional wineries, chefs, and food producers in a series of wine tastings and gustatory events to showcase Western North Carolina's appetite for locally produced flavors.

The festival debuted last year as a fund-raiser for Slow Food Asheville and RiverLink and was created by Bob Bowles, a founding member and past president of Slow Food Asheville. The event was launched to highlight the regional wineries in North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina, and also featured local food and wines from the Yadkin Valley Appellation.

Jed Drew, president of GulfStream, said, "We believe this partnership fits perfectly with GulfStream's strategy as we continue to grow our presence across the Carolinas, leveraging our print, online, and event capabilities. We look forward to working with Bob to develop the Asheville Wine & Food Festival as one of the leading destination events for wine and food lovers in the Southeast."

Bob Bowles, founder of Asheville Wine & Food Festival, adds, "The partnership with GulfStream allows us to reach a wider market of wine and food lovers in South Carolina, Atlanta, and North Carolina. GulfStream's magazines, events, and customer base represent the emerging interest in local wines, farm-to-table dining, and support for local agriculture."
The 2010 festival will be renamed the WNC magazine Asheville Wine & Food Festival, with more than 60 wineries and 2,000 attendees expected to participate.

About the Festival
The WNC magazine Asheville Wine & Food Festival will be held indoors on August 14, 2010, in the new expo facility at the WNC Agricultural Center across from the Asheville Regional Airport and adjacent to Interstate 26 with easy connections from Interstate 40. With more than 60 regional, national, and international wineries already committed to this year's festival, along with regional restaurants and local food producers, this event will allow attendees to experience the diverse culinary offerings of Western North Carolina. More information about the festival can be found at http://www.ashevillewineandfood.com

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10 Best Places for Second Homes

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3/11/2010 - 10 Best Places for Second Homes
by STEVEN M. SEARS

Prices of luxury real estate are finally starting to rise, as bargain hunters swoop in. Some of the best deals are in second homes with pricesoff as much as 40%. See slideshow.

 

AT LONG LAST, THE MARKET FOR LUXURY REAL estate is coming back to life.

Prices for primary residences, which plunged at least 20% from the peak in 2007, appear to have bottomed. In some of the snappiest locations, scattered bidding wars are breaking out and prices are turning upward.

In Greenwich, Conn., realty brokers say, the final months of 2009 were almost record-setters for sales volume, as two years of pent-up demand was unleashed. Even the megadeal is back. In Beverly Hills, film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg just plunked down $35 million for an 8,700-square-foot home on six acres.

There's nothing like a stabilized economy and a huge rebound in stocks to send folks looking for the perfect manse. The return of hefty Wall Street bonuses hasn't hurt, either.

Sotheby's International Real Estate

With all that in mind, and with summer just around the corner, Barron's sized up the market for upscale second homes, one of the greatest luxuries of all. We scoped out dozens of deluxe enclaves across the country, speaking with brokers, homeowners and others.

Prices are way down-40% off the peak in some locations. Seemingly at or near bottom, they are starting to attract the first wave of bargain hunters-and not just families in need of R&R. Hard-nosed investors also are on the prowl, says Jan Reuter, head of residential real estate at U.S. Trust Bank of America Private Wealth Management: "We've seen an uptick in buying in just the last couple of months."

To help you in the hunt, Barron's has selected the 10 best places in America for second homes. These alluring locales have it all: gorgeous houses, spectacular views, world-class golf, fishing and skiing, fine dining and great shopping. You'll find the complete range of lifestyles, from peaceful and easy to vigorously social.

Some warnings: 1) Our selections are every bit as subjective as tastes in homes themselves. 2) The prices cited are based mainly on conversations with locals, because hard data isn't available. 3) Your plush new retreat may take some time to rise in value. Serious appreciation will require a better economy and, quite possibly, another big rally in stocks.

But hey, you could do worse than marking time in paradise.

1. Maui Consistently rated the "Best Island in the World" by travel experts, this Hawaiian beauty underwent a growth spurt during the past decade that some critics bemoaned as excessive. But the southern coast, anchored by the hamlet of Wailea, has weathered it all well. One of the first master-planned resort communities in the nation, it's a balanced blend of understated gated communities, luxury resort hotels, three excellent golf courses, a tennis center and, of course, several crescent sandy beaches. Wailea has 500 single-family homes, and their views are stunning: lush, verdant hills, brilliantly blue ocean and, after the steamy sun showers, rainbows over the horizon.

Median Price: $1.5 million

Drop From Peak: 27%

Neighbor: Oprah Winfrey

2. Kiawah Island, S.C. Languid elegance defines South Carolina's coast, and Kiawah, just off Charleston, may be its ideal expression. The island has one developer, Kiawah Development Partners, and an architectural review board that protects the 4,500 or so propert ies from the excesses often seen when wealth meets water. It has 10 miles of hard-sand beaches and abundant wildlife: bobcats, gray foxes, loggerhead turtles and more. Its Ocean Course has long been favorite of golfers; it hosted the 2007 Senior PGA Championship. Want to tee up some culture? Charleston is just 45 minutes away.

Median Price: $1.4 million

Drop From Peak: 21%

Neighbor: Dan Marino

3. The Hamptons Long the favored retreat of high-powered New Yorkers, the Hamptons are a just now experiencing a fresh jump in home sales, realty brokers say. Credit the revival in Wall Street bonuses. Southampton, bastion of old money, is known for its grand estates, but lovely homes can be found in what not long ago were potato fields. In chic East Hampton, the choicest real estate is on Georgica Pond. Alas, most of the area's finest properties never come to market. Once you own a home in the Hamptons, you own it forever.

Median Price: $1.5 million

Drop from Peak: 30%

Neighbor: Steven Spielberg

4. Park City, Utah Skiers love Park City for its powdery winters, but homeowners relish the summers, too. The crowds thin out, life slows down and the tall aspens lining the nearby Wasatch range shimmer in the breeze. The one-street Old West downtown is dotted with classic Victorian houses, while Deer Valley, an understated year-round resort community, sits on the eastern edge. Its namesake ski hill has been crowned by readers of Ski Magazine as North America's top ski resort for three years running. For $100,000, you can join the nearby Talisker Club, with links designed by PGA Tour Champion Mark O'Meara. Bonus: Salt Lake City International Airport, a Delta Air Lines hub, has direct flights to the East and West Coasts.

Median Price: $1 million

Drop From Peak: 45%

Neighbor: Robert Redford

5. Aspen, Colo. Aspen isn't just a year-round playground; it's also a cultural oasis, the home to the Aspen Institute think tank, a world-class symphony, and dance and art festivals. The four major ski hills speak for the themselves. The Maroon Creek Club includes a challenging golf course designed by Tom Fazio. The city's West End has a mix of 19th-century Victorians and modern abodes not far from the "beachfront"-downtown neighborhoods within walking distance of the lift. The posh shopping is so good that some folks never find their way up to the trails.

Median Price: $5.6 million

Drop From Peak: 6%

Neighbor: Jack Nicholson

6. Pebble Beach, Calif. Golfer Jack Nicklaus once said that if he had one last round to play before he died, it would be at Pebble Beach. The site of four U.S. Opens, The Links are rated the No. 1 public course in America by Golf Digest for 2009-10. There are several other public and private golf courses within the guarded gates of the verdant Del Monte Forest, which surrounds the community of Pebble Beach. Stunning estates not far from the first tee offer sweeping views of Monterey Bay. Duffers who buy in can play the Golden Bear's dream course every day.

Median Price: $1.1 million

Drop Since Peak: 20%

Neighbor: Clint Eastwood.

7. Palm Beach This Florida island hovers above reality, and at $30 million-plus, so do its finest pads. Oodles of socialites and tycoons wouldn't have it any other way. Neither would Jimmy Buffett, Rush Limbaugh and too many other boldface names to mention. In addition to the never-ending social whirl, residents like the shopping on Worth Avenue and the beauty of Addison Mizner's Mediterranean-style architecture. Mortals can enjoy the town by buying "over the moat"- in Jupiter, North Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens and Delray Beach.

Median Price: $3.5 million

Drop From Peak: 11%

Neighbor: Henry Kravis

8. Captiva/Sanibel Island, Fla. Sitting off the coast of Fort Myers, a nerve center of America's foreclosure crisis, the barrier islands of Captiva and Sanibel are the very picture of laid-back living. Linked by a bridge at Sanibel's northern point, the islands are renowned for their pristine beaches and abundant seashells. Then there are the hiking trails; half the island is a nature preserve. The late Robert Rauschenberg is, even in death, one of the largest landowners. His 35-acre spread, complete with studio, is intact on Captiva's northern end.

Median Price: $3.5 million

Drop From Peak: 40%

Neighbor: Ted Koppel

9. Asheville, N.C. Nestled in the mountains of North Carolina, Asheville offers a four-seasons lifestyle with just enough culture and good restaurants to keep urban-withdrawal pangs at bay. Some homebuyers come from the Northeast, and many come from Florida to beat the heat. The locals call them "halfbacks," since Asheville is halfway up the East Coast. The town has a university and a thriving art scene. We like the 1920s-vintage Tudor homes in the Biltmore Forest district, once part of the adjacent Biltmore Estate. The funky Grove Park neighborhood is also worth a look.

Median Price: $700,000

Drop From Peak: 38%

Neighbor: Andie McDowell

10. Gasparilla Island, Fla. Katherine Hepburn used to rent a beach house here, and it's easy to see why. The small island off Florida's southwest coast has been lovingly preserved: The Gasparilla Act, a state law passed in 1980, put a tight lid on population density, building heights and commercial development. Golf carts -- some customized to resemble '57 Chevys -- are the favored mode of transportation. The historic downtown has gracious homes, and the waters around the island are renowned for tarpon fishing. To check it out, check into the plush Gasparilla Inn.

Median Price: $1.8 million.

Drop From Peak: 18%

Neighbor: Harrison Ford, frequent visitor.

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ebruary Statistics

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3/3/2010 - February Statistics
by Heather Judge

Buncombe County Residential

 

Avererage Days on Market: 151

 

List Price/Sell Price Ratio: 93%

 

Median Sell Price: $190,000


Active Homes on Market: 2966

 

New Homes On Market: 505

 

Homes Sold in February : 114

 

 

Absorption Rate: 22 Months

 

The Absorption Rate is the ability of the real estate market to absorb or sell all of the houses for sale in a given amount of time.

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sheville listed as top retirement destination

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3/3/2010 - Asheville listed as top retirement destination
by Robert Powell

Asheville wins another online popularity contest. The list is compiled by TopRetirements.com, and here's how it was done, according to Robert Powell of MarketWatch, who wrote about it:

The 100 most popular retirement towns list is compiled by calculating the 100 towns with the most online visits of the 450 cities reviewed at Topretirements.com. The list is essentially a popularity contest; it reflects the towns that site visitors are the most interested in for retirement.

Here's what they say about Ashvegas:

Asheville, N.C. Asheville is a long-time favorite, said Brady. Part of its ongoing appeal is its climate (it's mild year round); its location (it's in the Blue Ridge Mountains; there's water everywhere for fishing and boating, and its downtown is walkable and dynamic); its housing stock (there's a wide range of upscale housing opportunities for seniors). What's not so special is that Asheville gets crowded in the summer and overdevelopment is coming.

Here's the rest of the top 10:

2. Sarasota, Fla.

3. Prescot, Ariz.

4. Paris, Tenn.

5. Austin, Texas

6. Green Valley, Ariz.

7. Winston-Salem, N.C.

8. Beaufort, S.C.

9. San Diego

10. Ft. Myers, Fla.

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ountain Housing's plan for Merrimon development out of scale with neighborhood

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3/3/2010 - Mountain Housing's plan for Merrimon development out of scale with neighborhood
by Patricia Poteat and David Moltke-Hansen

With this letter, we join more than 250 residents of the Gracelyn subdivision and surrounding neighborhoods in north Asheville to protest the proposed rezoning of the Naval Reserve site behind the Grace Post Office on Merrimon Avenue. This rezoning would be necessary in order for Mountain Housing Opportunities to build the 60-unit, high-density affordable-housing complex it has proposed for the site.

The concerns of this diverse group are not about MHO, which does important work and has a good reputation. Moreover, the great majority of the petitioners support affordable housing, not just in principle but for the neighborhood. Were the 32 units allowed under current zoning to go on the site, most of the petitioners would welcome the development.

Our and our neighbors' principle concerns about the proposed rezoning are two fold: First, the density that would result if the rezoning request were granted and the project were built as proposed. State zoning laws have as one of their priorities protecting the scale and character of residential neighborhoods. The present, judiciously determined zoning is appropriate, given that goal. The proposed rezoning would not be.

At 60 units on just over two acres, the density of the complex would be more than twice that of the rest of the surrounding residential area. In addition, the scale of the proposed buildings is much bigger than is characteristic of the adjacent neighborhoods, made up almost entirely of one- and two-story homes and small apartment buildings. For example, one façade of one building, including a retaining wall, would rise to a height of more than 80 feet! This is much taller than anything in the area except a church steeple.

Second [problem]: the implications of this density for the tenants themselves, especially in regard to increased vehicular traffic, lack of adequate sidewalks and parking, and the safety hazards these would present. The number of vehicles in the immediate vicinity of the site would increase dramatically. On-street, as well as on-site, parking would be required to accommodate residents and visitors.

The developer's stated hope that most residents would use public transport, thereby mitigating traffic and parking issues, is not realistic given the infrequency of bus service up and down Merrimon (once per hour). For tenants who would nevertheless use public transport, access would be hazardous given the lack of sidewalks and the need to cross Merrimon to catch a bus headed south toward downtown. A highly congested and accident-prone stretch of Merrimon would become even more so to the detriment of all but, most especially, to tenants of the proposed development.

MHO should build affordable housing at the Naval Reserve site. It should do so, however, on a scale and at a density appropriate to the neighborhood, as allowed by current zoning. It should also do so in a way more conducive to the safety and well-being of the residents served. It is true that, with 32 units instead of the proposed 60, fewer tenants would be served. One site, however, should not carry a disproportionate burden vis a vis the need for affordable housing in Asheville and, thereby, compromise both those living in the complex and those in the surrounding neighborhood.

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upelo Honey Cafe South cuts the ribbon

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3/3/2010 - Tupelo Honey Cafe South cuts the ribbon
by Mackensy Lunsford

Tupelo Honey Cafe South  celebrated its grand opening in high style on Monday evening, highlighting the work of the numerous local architects, designers and other talents who made it all come together.

Mayor Terry Bellamy was on hand for the ribbon-cutting, as were other local officials, leaders of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and a slew of other folks from local media outlets and businesses.

Cafe owner Steve Frabitore stressed that the eatery was designed, built and decorated utilizing the deep well of talent here in the Asheville area. For starters, the architectural renewal of the previously rather nondescript interior was tackled by Patti Glazer, the talent responsible for many notable restoration and renovation projects like Echo Mountain Recording Studio and the Lobster Trap. Kathryn Long of Ambiance Interiors was responsible for the interior design, and Doug Stratton of Votiv Architectural Design handled the lighting. What this talented design team has wrought at Tupelo Honey's south-Asheville location is impressive, to say the least.

When it comes to using local talent, Frabitore didn't stop with the design of the building itself. The walls are dotted with local art from the Wrinkled Egg and Oliver's Southern Folk Art. Locals Lyna Farkas and Sharon Tompkins provided decorative painting. Simone Wilson of Pleasant Hugh Studio provided custom tin panels, and Preservation Hall in Weaverville transformed some restored old windows into mirrors.

Of course, the restaurant also uses plenty of local meats and produce in its kitchen, just like in the original location downtown. If the food served at the event was of any indication, the chefs on the south side are holding true to Tupelo Honey's reputation for serving delicious nouveau-southern cuisine.

In a recent press release, Frabitore says of the restaurant's theme:

"We have worked very hard to transfer the eclecticism, color and fun synonymous with the original location. The new restaurant is filled with Southern folk art, recycled windows and screen doors and commissioned works by local artists and artisans. We're also very proud of the fact we've created over 100 local jobs in the process."

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