Blog :: 01-2013

Asheville Adventure of the week: Waterfall hike



1/31/2013 - Asheville Adventure of the week: Waterfall hike
by Karen Chavez

What: Swannanoa Valley Museum waterfall hiking series.

When: The first of five hikes will start at 9 a.m. Saturday. The dates of the remaining four hikes are April 6, June 1, Sept. 7 and Nov. 2.

Where: The five hikes will take place throughout the Swannanoa Valley, starting Saturday with Falls Branch, a waterfall on the property of the Grove Stone Quarry in Black Mountain. Hikers meet at the Black Mountain Savings Bank, 200 E. State St.

Cost: $20 for members and $30 for nonmembers.

Details: Waterfalls in Western North Carolina are so popular that if the Swannanoa Valley Museum could could sell them, they would never have to worry about fundraising again.

But the nonprofit museum that works to preserve and showcase the area's heritage may have hit on the next best thing -- selling hikes to waterfalls. Following on its very popular Swannanoa Valley Rim Explorer Hiking Series, the museum has launched its latest waterfall hiking series.

The five-hike series kicks off Saturday with a strenuous hike to the private Falls Branch waterfall at the Grove Stone Quarry.

Future hikes will feature hidden waterfalls in the valley, said hiking committee chair John Buckner.

"The Rim Series has been a very successful program, and there's always a lot of interest in waterfalls, so we decided to do a takeoff on that with the waterfalls," Buckner said. The Grove Stone Sand Co. environmental manager is leading the hike on Saturday. It's very difficult. It's about 3.5 miles but has 1,100 feet elevation gain in a mile. The first half of the hike is steep, with buschwhacking on steep slopes, and the last half is on logging road. It's a spectacular waterfall, partially cascade and partially free-falling."

The hike includes scenic views of the North Fork Valley and a tour by quarry manager Jason Conner, who will discuss the history and current operations of the quarry.

Grove Stone and Sand Co. was founded by E.W. Grove to supply rock to many structures around Asheville, such as the Grove Park Inn, Grove Arcade and Grovemont-on-Swannanoa. The quarry is still in operation.

Buckner said the next hike in April will be to a "secret waterfall" on private property in Yancey County. Other upcoming hikes will include Mitchell Falls, which lies in a conservation easement in Yancey County, and Catawba Falls, in Pisgah National Forest in McDowell County.

Spots are still available for the Rim Series, which begins Feb. 16 with a hike on Jesse's High Top Mountain and continues monthly through December. An orientation meeting for those interested in participating is 7 p.m. Feb. 12 at Black Mountain Savings Bank.

Register: Call Buckner, chair of hiking committee, at 669-4300 or email him at

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5 Reasons To Visit Asheville Now



1/28/2013 - 5 Reasons To Visit Asheville Now
by Jimmy Im - Fodor's Travel Blog

5 Reasons to Visit Asheville Now

Posted by Jimmy Im on January 22, 2013 at 4:59:00 PM EST
Posted in Trip Ideas Tagged: North Carolina

The small city of Asheville, North Carolina, may never be the "next big thing," but right now it's that really cool city you haven't been to yet. It's one of America's top beer destinations (known for stellar microbreweries) with a buzzing culinary scene to boot. Also, it's cradled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, making any outdoor enthusiast happy to don their hiking boots. There's no denying Asheville has heaps of character and charm. Throw in 24 vortexes, weekly public festivals, rich history with the Vanderbilts, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and even (gasp!) ghosts, and you've got yourself a city worth returning to. This modest city packs a lot of punch, and visitors are putting Asheville on their radar. We highlighted five reasons to go to Asheville now.


Grove Park Inn Celebrates 100 Years

History can be found at Grove Park Inn, open since 1913 and the summer home for F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1935 and 1936. The inn sits on a hilltop that looks over downtown Asheville and the mountains (best view yet) and the history is preserved in the main building where original furnishings and antique pieces can be found. Check into the subterranean, award-winning spa, where you can get your aura photographed before and after a massage or body treatment.

Grove Park Inn is celebrating its 100th anniversary all year long, kicked off with a $25 million renovation. Noteworthy events and features include the Jazz Weekend in January with Pat Metheny, retro-inspired menus created from the inn's original 1913 courses in the restaurants, and anyone celebrating their 100th birthday in 2013 gets free accommodation and dining.

Insider's Tip: Ghost hunters will want to check into floor 3 and 5, allegedly haunted by the "Pink Lady."


Curate's Culinary Buzz

It's not all farm-to-table, Southern fare down in this mountain city (although that's a big part of the culinary scene). Curate, a new tapas restaurant opened in 2011 by executive chef Katie Button, a James Beard semi-finalist who trained at the former best restaurant in the world: elBuli. She also worked with renowned Spanish chef Jose Andres at The Bazaar in Los Angeles and Rene Redzepi at noma in Copenhagen (currently touted as the best restaurant in the world). Curate blends Spanish food and wine with local, fresh ingredients.

Insider's Tip: The jamon Iberico is shipped directly from Spain... it's the first thing you should order.


Oskar Blues Finally Opens

Asheville's already well-known microbrewery scene just got a notch cooler on December 31, 2012, when Oskar Blues Brewery opened its first East coast outpost in Brevard, just 45-minutes outside Asheville. Tucked away in the mountains near Pisgah National Forest, Oskar Blues is destined to be a top spot for local beer lovers. The brand is famous for inventing craft beer in a can, leads an outdoors, hip-factor "lifestyle" for devout followers, and the great tasting brew pretty much speaks for itself. There's free weekend trolley service between the brewery and Asheville.

Insider's Tip: Oskar Blues is one of three big national craft breweries making a "beer" splash. Sierra Nevada will open this y ear, and New Belgium will open in 2014.


More Budget-Friendly Hotels

Thankfully, Asheville won't blow a hole in your wallet and neither will the new crop of budget-friendly hotels. Opened in 2009, Intercontinental's Hotel Indigo Asheville offers 116 rooms (starting at $155) with complimentary parking, WiFi, and business center and all rooms carry Aveda amenities. The new Not All Business package brings the local Asheville flavor to all guests who don't have the time to explore the culinary scene. Opened in 2011, the Grand Bohemian Asheville is literally across the street from the Biltmore Estate. There are 104 well-appointed rooms, several with balconies, with hand-carved furniture, soaking baths, and rustic accents. Rooms start from $169. Starwood opened Aloft Asheville last fall, which brings contemporary flair to the downtown hotel scene with rooms starting at $107.

Insider's Tip: All hotels are pet-friendly, embracing Asheville's love for animals!


Biltmore is Free for Kids

The grandaddy of all tourist sites in Asheville, the Biltmore Estate is a must when visiting the city. Built by George Vanderbilt and opened in 1895, it sprawls a whopping 8,000 acres (it takes about fifteen minutes to drive from the entrance to the actual parking lot next to the Biltmore House). Expect lavish, over-the-top-designed bedrooms, lounges, and an extensive basement. And from now until March 20, 2013, children ages 16 and younger get in for free! Adults also receive a complimentary audio guide with their ticket during the off-peak months.

Insider's Tip: Tons of activities are offered at Biltmore (beyond the tour) including fly fishing, bike rentals, horseback riding, and more.

Jimmy Im is a freelance travel writer based in NYC. He's hosted programs on the Travel Channel and LOGO, and makes regular appearances on morning news shows as a "travel expert." He teaches travel writing courses and is also cofounder of Follow him on Twitter: @dieselmad.

Photo Credits: Grove Park Inn: The Grove Park Inn; Curate: Heirloom Hospitality Group, LLC; Oskar Blues Brewery: Capturing WNC Photography/Oskar Blues Brewery; Aloft Asheville: Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.; Biltmore Estate: Caroline Klapper/iStockphoto

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Asheville High Band hits high note



1/23/2013 - Asheville High Band hits high note
by Casey Blake - Asheville Citizen Times

WASHINGTON -- The sun set on the U.S. capital, but the band played on. And on. And on.

The Asheville High School band took to Pennsylvania Avenue on Monday night, representing North Carolina in the 57th inaugural parade. About 40 bands played at the historic event, and only 16 of those were from high schools.

"It's hard to know what just happened," sophomore Robert Wiggins said. "Like, I just don't even know what just happened."

Sophomore Sarah Smith said, "I just, I just cried. I'm not even sure why, but we were in front of the president, and I just realized there were tears streaming down my face."

"Oh, I didn't cry, I think because I had the whistle in my mouth, and I was afraid I'd blow it by accident," drum major MacKensie Kvalvik said.

The band rode for hours on a charter bus, went through Secret Service checks, stood with instruments in hand for more than four hours on the National Mall and endured frigid weather long after the sun set to march in front of President Barack Obama on Monday night, following his ceremonial swearing-in.

"He didn't look real," freshman Tessa Kvalvik said of Obama. "He looked the way he looks in a picture. He's beautiful. And I cried. A lot."

Right before they reached Lafayette Square, where the president reviewed the parade, the band turned a corner and was blinded by stadium lights from all angles.

For most of them, they said, that was the moment -- tears or no tears.

"It was just incredibly surreal, turning that corner and seeing these blinding white lights in front the reviewing stand," drum major Adam Vernon-Young said. "It just hits you, and you can't see anything, but you know exactly where you are and that the president is just right there. And it just feels like, this is it. This is happening."

Band director Will Talley, who started the fledgling marching band in competitions six years ago after he took over as head director, was uncharacteristically incredulous even before the band began to march. He was typically calm, but profoundly proud.

"Even a year ago, I just never would have imagined we'd be here, never," Talley said, watching the band as they warmed up before they began to march. "They're a very young band, and I'm just really proud of them. I just hope they take this moment in."

Talley told band members, who huddled on the the lobby of their hotel the night before, that playing the right notes wasn't his priority the next day.

"You all are amazing people," Talley told them.

"I don't care about you guys playing the right notes, I don't care if you can't blow your nose," he said. "I just want you to be wonderful people, and to play like the people you are."

And the people they are, they say, are family.

The band had to make some last-minute adjustments, which mostly fell to Kinana McDaniel, the drummer who led off each segment in the parade loop. In the moments before they began, at least a dozen of them said they were more worried for her than for themselves. And in the moments after they stepped back on the bus, they erupted in spontaneous applause for her.

"I'm just so proud of her. She's so amazing," trumpet player Adelyn Luke said. "I was more nervous for her than for me, but she was just ... she was just so good."

The band was also told last-minute that no one, including the three drum majors, would be allowed to salute the president as planned, but Brady Blackburn worked in a stolen wink in front of Obama's reviewing stand.

"Just seeing him was incredible," Blackburn said. "And I think we might have made a little eye contact, and he saw me smile even behind my mouthpiece."

Most agreed the crowds were much smaller than they expected, likely because the parade started more than two hours later than anticipated.

But the crowd that did line the streets showed them love, they said.

"I think the fact that we were here representing North Carolina really hit me," Oliana Like said. "There were so many people yelling 'go North Carolina' and just being really supportive, and that was a really great feeling."

"I think even through the cold and all the work, that we got to do this for Asheville High and for our town, that made it worth it no matter what," Adelyn Luke said. "T here's nothing really better than that."

Talley gave the band a very brief speech after the performance, but it may have been the one moment outside a performance when every single band member was silent.

"What you guys just did will always be a part of history," he told them. "And you should be proud of that, of what you did tonight. I sure am."



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Conservancy protects Lost Cove ghost town



1/23/2013 - Conservancy protects Lost Cove ghost town
by Karen Chavez - Asheville Citizen Times


The Nolichucky River and Gorge can be seen from the Lost Cove property, a 95-acre tract in Yancey and Mitchell counties recently purchased by the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy.

ASHEVILLE -- The legacy of illicit moonshining -- as well as the beauty of bleeding heart and Virginia spiraea -- will be forever preserved with the recent protection of historic Lost Cove in remote and rugged Nolichucky Gorge.

The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy recently purchased the 95-acre Lost Cove tract, an in-holding of Pisgah National Forest near the North Carolina-Tennessee border in Yancey and Mitchell counties.

Well-known in local lore as a ghost town, Lost Cove has a colorful history of homesteaders, railroad crews, timber and moonshine, and is a scenic home to endangered plants and wildlife.

"The opportunity to save this significant part of Lost Cove was very important and welcome to those of us who live in its vicinity, who know personally of its special natural and historical significance and have long hoped it would one day be protected," David Ramsey, SAHC trustee, said in a statement.

The remote Lost Cove property is considered one of the more unique properties SAHC has ever protected and is entirely within the Nolichucky River Gorge Significant Natural Heritage Area, said SAHC membership director Cheryl Fowler.

The property was one of the last that wrapped up a banner year for SAHC, the Asheville-based land trust, which protected nearly 10,000 acres in 2012, for a total of some 60,000 acres since its start in 1974, Fowler said.

She said the Lost Cove tract was bought for $195,000, all raised from private donations.

"Lost Cove is identified as one of the eastern United States' most legendary ghost towns," Fowler said.


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Smokies park gets record number of visitors



1/22/2013 - Smokies park gets record number of visitors
by Karen Chavez - Asheville Citizen Times

BRYSON CITY -- Karen Wilmot sensed something in the air this past summer when she saw lines snaking out the doors of this Swain County town's eateries.

And she was right -- the county that is home to the eastern side of the Smokies was enjoying the benefits of a spike in tourism tied to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which last year recorded its highest visitation in more than a decade.

"Our occupancy rate was up over the previous year. I've spoken to many restaurants that have been very busy, sometimes with lines out the door, and the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad had a very good year," said Wilmot, executive director of the Swain County Chamber of Commerce.

"I can say the increase in visitation in Smokies had a positive impact on business in Bryson City. Any time you see an increase in the Smokies, you're going to see an increase in economic well-being in gateway communities."

With a half million acres of forested, mountainous terrain split between North Carolina and Tennessee, the park solidified its standing as the most popular national park, with nearly 9.7 million visitors in 2012, up 7.5 percent from the year before.

It is the highest number of visitors since 2000, when the park saw 10.1 million people, said Molly Schroer, park spokeswoman.

Just released 2012 visitation numbers also keep the Blue Ridge Parkway in the long-held No. 1 spot as most visited unit of the National Park Service, with 15.2 million visitors. The Smokies and the parkway also are in the top five national parks in terms of visitor spending.

Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site in Flat Rock, also a unit of the National Park Service, had a busier 2012, with 93,000 visitors, a 4.1 percent increase from 2011.

A combination of eye-popping scenery, mild weather and proximity to large population centers gave the Smokies its strong showing last year.

"It was mainly the mild weather during the winter and spring of 2012," Schroer said. "More people were able to travel into the park and be outdoors because of lack of ice and snow on the roads and trails."

The mild weather in the off-peak seasons and a warm summer set the tone for visitation as every month of 2012 saw an increase of visitors from those recorded in 2011.

December 2012 park entries were 1.9 percent higher than the previous year's December, with 480,527 visitors in 2012 compared with 471,603 in December 2011.

That increase came even though snow and ice forced a week-long closure of Newfound Gap Road between Gatlinburg, Tenn., and Cherokee.

But Schroer said the holiday season brought many visitors out to enjoy the park at the end of the month.

The findings were a little puzzling to Diane Cutler, co-owner of Bryson City Bicycles. After three strong years selling, renting and repairing bicycles for locals and visitors to the Smokies, Cutler's shop had a down year in 2012.

But she said since Christmas she is already seeing a rebound and is hoping to capitalize again in 2013 on the runaway popularity of the national park in her backyard.

Cutler said 80 percent of the bike shop's business comes from tourists looking to spend time at Tsali Recreation Area and in the Smokies.

"We were still in the black, but it was just down this year. Our little town is the regular, middle class tourist and I think those people, after four years, are saying, 'we don't have anything left, our discretionary income is gone,'" she said.

"But the day after Christmas, things started picking up. After feeling really scared through the winter, we're feeling really rosy about the upcoming spring season."

A 2010 Michigan State University study estimates that the Smokies had the largest local economic impact of any national park, with visitors spending more than $818 million in the gateway communities, such as Gatlinburg, Tenn., Cherokee and Bryson City. The study also estimates that 11,400 local jobs were supported by Smokies visitor spending.

The study, "Economic Benefits to Local Communities from National Park Visitation and Payroll, 2010," found that the Blue Ridge Parkway was the fifth highest in visitor spending, with $299 million.

Parkway visits affected by October weather

While the Blue Ridge Parkway visitation was tracking higher all through 2012, some nasty October weather caused a plunge.

Chief Ranger Steven Stinnett said the parkway, which has 469 linear miles that lie roughly half in North Carolina and half in Virginia, had 15.2 million visitors in 2012, down 1.2 percent from 2011.

"You're going to have slight variation from year to year, so a drop in 200,000 visitors spread out over the year, is not statistically significant," Stinnett said. "There was essentially no change."

The biggest drop in visitation appeared to be on the North Carolina side of the parkway, Stinnett said, which is about twice as visited as the Virginia side.

Susan Gonshor, chief of interpretation for the parkway, said that the parkway put up a sign on Interstate 40 last fall directing drivers to the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center, which she believes helped to increase visitation to the center near the intersection with U.S. 74A.

The parkway also increased its presence in local classrooms, sending rangers to teach school children about the parkway and conservation issues in an effort to attract more young people.

"We found that 70 percent of visitation is in 40-70-year-old age range," Gonshor said. "We are working on 'how can we get young kids to engage in the parkway, get them Tweeting about us, and meeting their friends on the parkway?'

What ultimately might have caused the drop in visitation appeared to be the uncontrollable -- Mother Nature.

Superintendent Phil Francis said visitation was up across the parkway through the end of September, then in October -- the high holy month in Western North Carolina for fall leaf peeping -- it dropped 7.8 percent on the Virginia side and 22.3 percent in North Carolina.

"We had a little snow in October and we had some closures toward the end of the month. We had ice and snow, some high winds and downed trees," Francis said. "October is the primary visitation month. It's an important month."

The parkway had 1.3 million visitors in October of 2011, and that dropped to about 1 million visitors in October 2012.

"I would say it's likely weather that caused the drop in October," Francis said. But, he added, even the weather couldn't topple the parkway from its longtime perch as the most visited site out of the 398 units in the National Park Service.

"We can see changes as a consequence of a smaller maintenance staff, things not being repaired as quickly, but we're doing the best we can," Francis said of the ever-shrinking Park Service budget. "Most people come for the views, and we've really worked hard to make sure our interpretive programs still exist, and we continue to cut our scenic vistas on a three-year cycle.

"We're still the most visited site in country."

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Natural Selection



1/22/2013 - Natural Selection
by Carolun Comeau - Carolina Home and Garden


"I would gladly have bought the home myself, if my clients hadn't," declares Black Mountain architect Thomas Lawton, of the simply designed cabin that sits amidst a riot of rhododendrons, and whose charms had faded due to time and neglect.

But buy it they did. A couple with two teens, they lived in Winston-Salem but dreamed about the possibility of a mountain getaway after spending Thanksgiving at a friend's rustic log cabin.

From their first peek at the woodland home, built in the '70s, they sensed its potential. No question, they'd need vision. The house's challenges included of-the-era features -- an inefficient heating system, warren-like rooms and a bank of windows whose Craggy Pinnacle views could only be accessed by those short in stature. In other words, the petite owner saw the view of the century -- the husband and architect, both six footers, not so much.

Extant positives aplenty informed Lawton's redesign: centrally placed mechanical systems, great bones and abundant natural materials. Just a few significant modifications would transform the house, corresponding nicely with his philosophy of thoughtful design analysis. "To add real value, throwing money and square footage at a project isn't the answer. My modernist training emphasized doing more with less. The clients and I hoped to honor this home's modern roots while giving it family-centric, practical livability."

Three fundamental changes made the house live larger and smarter: removal of the wall between the kitchen and living area, a kitchen redo and the replacement of five north-facing windows. The front doorway was relocated as well; a new cayenne colored door, equipped with a vertical row of three centrally placed square windows, was added.

"Once we determined the project's greater vision, I exposed the client to the mid-century modern aesthetic. I gave her an issue of Atomic Ranch, and she was off!" The client laughs knowingly, confessing her nocturnal online treasure hunts, obsessively scouring sites like "I had great fun finding pieces at thrift stores, online and at mid-century modern shops."

Joyful simplicity permeates the home's interior, achieved through a restrained, naturalistic color palette that succeeds in bringing the outside in, and several carefully curated furniture pieces and accessories. Had the owners veered toward Brady Bunch-era avocado and harvest gold hues, the interior could easily have turned muddy. The owner lucked out at Sherwin Williams when she discovered they carry original vintage colors; a chartreuse she chose is truly of the period.

The kitchen and living/dining area, which are separated by a streamlined breakfast bar, are bathed in natural light, adorned with honey-toned paneling and floors, and splashed with tangy citron and shots of persimmon. The kicky lemongrass, paprika and sunflower Fiestaware display serves as the kitchen's visual exclamation point.

Color and texture dominate the living area, which owes everything to Mother Nature. A wood framed couch has textural, nubby cushions whose pale orange is not unlike the interior of a butternut squash. Wooden slat-backed chairs with grassy green cushions and a classic boomerang coffee table complete the uber-simple furniture grouping. The extra large-looped taupe shag rug, fresh floral throw pillows and woodburning fireplace add physical and metaphorical warmth. The pieces' mixed provenance ups their casual quotient, encouraging relaxation.

The dining area follows suit with its circular, Saarinen-inspired dining table and Eames-influenced chairs. A multicolored oval box set in the corner offers uncomplicated graphic interest; rather than being lost in an ephemeral crowd, its statement is strengthened by isolation. The George Nelson bubble pendant adds sophistication, while a mounted cardboard deer head playfully references the lodges of yore, preventing the space from taking itself too seriously. A modest deck beyond begs visitors to enjoy an al fresco cup of joe.

The home's finishes are dead ringers for the originals they echo, including bright silver circular cabinet pulls and streamlined light fixtures. The client's dark Caesarstone countertops and understated appliances counter any hint of the contrived.

The clients and architect agree that teamwork was the project's hallmark. The mother and daughter, both crafty types, helped plac e and lay the handcrafted milky white, chocolate and jade-swirled rectangular art glass tiles used under the breakfast bar and for the kitchen backsplash; the kitchen designer offered advice on how to make the stock cabinets appear custom.

The homeowner admits it's harder to leave with each visit. "It's incredible -- we've got privacy, yet we're within striking distance of Starbucks and downtown. We've never had TV or Internet here, and I don't imagine we will," she says.

Incontrovertible truth: this project's "after" was worth the wait for all involved. Proof again that editing beauty is as important, if not more so, than speedily amassing the Right Things.

Call 828-669-8670 or visit for more on Thomas Lawton Architect.

This article appears in the Winter 2012 issue of Carolina Home + Garden

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New pizza restaurant set for Asheville



1/16/2013 - New pizza restaurant set for Asheville
by Mackensy Lunsford

ASHEVILLE -- David Bauer is a grain man.

Bauer, who has been baking for just more than a decade, owns Farm and Sparrow, a bakery that specializes in wood-fired breads and pastries that have inspired a small but devout following. 

With the help of Brendan Reusing, formerly of the renowned Lantern Restaurant in Chapel Hill, Bauer will build an altar to grain in the River Arts District. 

The new restaurant, called All Souls Pizza, will open in the old Silver Dollar Cafe building, which most recently housed The Asheville Public, which will have its last day of business on Sunday. 

Though the menu will be a collaborative effort, Reusing will be the chef de cuisine. The restaurant should open in late spring or summer and, with Pizza Pura opening in April, will mark the second pizza restaurant to open in a matter of months.

Bauer's devotion to baking extends to ovens, which he sometimes builds by hand. The intense heat of the wood-fired ovens he prefers imparts a deep flavor and striking texture into all of his baked goods. While few bakers could claim to know the age of their flour, Bauer can tell you his is milled at his bakery on a daily basis. His fixation with freshly milled wheat and other grains will manifest itself in the menu at All Souls.

Bauer's imported Austrian mill has already been put to good experimental use, milling nearly 20 different types of flour so far. While pizza will be the order of the day in the restaurant, the menu will also offer pasta made from unlikely ingredients like heirloom Abruzzi rye and Italian Alpine buckwheat. "There will be an emphasis on a lot of the grains that have been neglected but have a long history here," Bauer said.

Polenta will be milled at the restaurant right before it's cooked. Flour for pizza dough and pasta will also be milled fresh daily.

"I'm pretty obsessed with the flavor of fresh flour, especially finely-sifted, delicate flours that have all of these beautiful floral notes to them," Bauer said.

Most pizza flours, he pointed out, have been sitting in warehouses long enough to lose their flavor. "To me it's always been a contradiction that we grow soft wheat here, we export it, and then it gets made into pizza flour and comes back to give you an authentic pizza experience. We're trying to get to the roots of things and mill soft wheat fresh every day so you can experience it."

Farm and Sparrow will not be affected by the opening of All Souls Pizza, said Bauer. "I feel very strongly about my roots and my foundation. My place is here at the bakery," he said.

As for the name, it's not a nod to the Biltmore Village church, but to the notion that all souls are welcome. "We want this to be a place that didn't have an ounce of exclusivity to it," Bauer said.

"We want to have interesting food, and we also want it to be a place where you can come and get a beer and also grab a piece of pepperoni pizza made with local pepperoni, local dairy and local wheat."

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N.C. continues fast growth pace



1/10/2013 - N.C. continues fast growth pace
by Chris BagleyStaff Writer- Triangle Business Journal

North Carolina's population is outgrowing those of most other states, according to annual estimates the U.S. Census Bureau published Thursday.

The agency estimated the state's population at 9,752,073 as of July 1. The growth of 100,970 from July 1, 2011, was the fifth-largest figure in the nation, behind only Texas, California, Florida and Georgia.

In percentage terms, the Tar Heel population increased by 1.05 percent. Only nine states and the District of Columbia grew more rapidly. North Dakota and D.C. led with about 2.15 percent growth.

The Census also gave state-by-state estimates for births, deaths, and net migration.

North Carolina's growth looked especially strong in terms of net migration. The state gained 60,100 more residents through migration than it lost, the fourth-largest net total in the nation. Only Texas, Florida and California gained more.

In percentage terms, net migration added 0.62 percent to North Carolina's population. That ranking was 11th among the 50 states and D.C. North Dakota, which is in the middle of a natural gas boom, led with 1.7 percent growth through migration.

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sheville touted as innovation ecosystem



1/8/2013 - Asheville touted as innovation ecosystem
by Dale Neal - Asheville Citizen Times

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Asheville City Hall and full moon.
Asheville City Hall and full moon. / Steve Dixon/Steve Dixon/sdixon@citizen-times

 Can other cities learn a lesson from Asheville's new emphasis on business innovators and start-up risk-takers?

 The National League of Cities is blogging today about Asheville as a case study for best practices in promoting entrepreneurship. 

 Asheville economic developers were invited to present at a panel discussion along with Boston and Beaverton, Ore., a Portland suburb, at the annual Congress of Cities held in Boston in late November. 

 Ben Teague, executive director of the Economic Development Coalition of Asheville-Buncombe County, and Pam Lewis, the coalition's director of entrepreneurship, outlined what Asheville is doing differently to create "an entrepreneurial eco-system."

"A lot of cities were impressed with our going to South-by-Southwest as a creative way to do marketing," said Lewis, who led a local delegation to the annual innovation conference in Austin, Texas, touting Asheville as an up-and-coming place to do business.

The case study outlined Asheville's new emphasis on entrepreneurship in the past year.

"We pick cities and regions that are developing innovative models to strengthen their local economies," explained author Katie McConnell, a senior associate with the league's Center for Research and Innovation.

So far this year, the league has focused on economic development in case studies on just four cities: Asheville, along with Toledo, Baltimore and Longmont, Colo.

The report focused on Asheville's identity as a foodie destination and the booming micobrewery business. Also noted was the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce's intentional focus on connecting innovators and the plans for a new Technology Accelerator this summer in downtown Asheville.

"I think what's particularly striking about the Asheville region is the number of partnerships and stakeholders that come together to make a more friendly environment for entrepreneurs," McConnell said.

The report notes a slew of activities geared toward entrepreneurs, including Ignite Asheville and Startup Weekend Asheville.

Read the National League of Cities blog here:

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sheville's south slope poised for growth



1/7/2013 - Asheville's south slope poised for growth
by Jason Sandford - Asheville Citizen Times

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Asheville's south slope poised for growth


This run-down building on Banks Street is set to be the home of a new barbecue restaurant. Asheville Chef Elliott Moss plans to open Buxton Hill later this year. New development on Banks Street is the latest sign that the south slope of downtown Asheville is poised for a boomlet. 
This run-down building on Banks Street is set to be the home of a new barbecue restaurant. Asheville Chef Elliott Moss plans to open Buxton Hill later this year. New development on Banks Street is the latest sign that the south slope of downtown Asheville is poised for a boomlet. / Jason Sandford/

ASHEVILLE -- Banks Street is one forlorn avenue.

Nearly every building on the street is abandoned. A few are downright decrepit. Most have been tagged with graffiti. Some old billboards remain painted on the building brick, signs like "Standard Paper Sales" and "Berkeley Lighting," which harken back to previous uses.

The wide street runs off Coxe Avenue just south of downtown Asheville in an area generally known as the south slope. Some folks refer to the slope as "SoHi" for south of Hilliard Avenue, and I've had one person suggest "SoSlo" for south slope.

A nickname has yet to stick, but it may soon. That's because new development there is starting to pick up momentum. For the past couple of years, Buxton Avenue, a street that runs parallel to, and is just south of, Banks Street has been a draw for those seeking a new frontier.

The Prospect bar and Dirty Jack's, the tasting room and brewing operation for Green Man Brewing (which just expanded), populate Buxton, along with the French Broad Chocolate 's new factory and Eagle's Nest Outfitters, the makers of hammocks and other outdoor gear.

First up on Banks Street is a new barbecue restaurant. Elliott Moss, an accomplished chef, is planning to open Buxton Hill later this year. Next in the works is Burial Beer Co., which plans to start a small pilot brewing operation on Banks.

There could be more in the works with the recent sale of two parcels of property -- a vacant lot on Coxe Avenue and the adjacent Chrysler Building, which sits on the corner of Coxe and Buxton. The vacant lot a few years ago was planned to be the location of a 13-story residential condo building called Zona Lofts. Both properties were owned by the same developer and went through foreclosure proceedings.

The growth of downtown Asheville toward the south will also likely get a boost from the opening last summer of a big new public parking deck on the south end of Biltmore Avenue. The deck is hidden below the new Aloft Hotel, but bu siness owners are already seeing increased traffic in the area because of the boutique hotel and the new parking.

Wicked Weed Brewing will likely be another south-end magnet. The gastropub opened last weekend on Biltmore Avenue next door to The Orange Peel night club. Customers eager to get in lined up out the door and down the sidewalk during the holiday break.

Developers and business owners are always looking for the next hot spot, the next great location. It looks like the south slope of downtown currently has that territory staked out.

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