Sometimes it seems like if there is a list about anything Asheville is on it. In the second half of 2014 alone, Asheville was listed as one of the Best Beer Cities, Coziest Cities, Coolest Cities, Best Places to Go, Top 20 Cities to Shop Local, Smartest Cities, Greatest Destination Food Cities, World’s Best Cities, Quirkiest Cities and Friendliest Cities. Just to name a few! With so many accolades coming our way, it made me wonder, “Why is Asheville on so many lists?”
The conventional is answer is that our Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Development Board works hard to bring Asheville to the eyes and ears of the media. This is very true and we are very grateful to the team at the CVB for all of their work. But there has to be something else, something which makes the journalists bite, something which makes the target groups pick our city. And I think it is the people. The people of Asheville who work here and who live here help to create an experience which is unique to our city.
All kinds of people have an impact on the way our town welcomes visitors. This is a short (and by no means all inclusive) list of some of the people who make Asheville quirky, cool, smart and friendly.
Before you enter a store or restaurant or even arrive at your Bed and Breakfast in Asheville, you will benefit from the love and care of our residents. One of the first people we had dealings when we bought our inn was Stacy Merton of the Historic Resources Commission. Oh how we love to complain about the Historic Resources Commission! But they are the reason our neighborhood in Montford is so special. This historic district is unique in the United States for the number of homes situated in a discrete area all of which were built within a specific time period (1980-1920) which have been maintained in their original form. Sometimes that “maintenance” was more in the range of benign neglect but overall the houses are in good shape. While Stacy stands guard over the historic buildings in Asheville, there are neighbourhood associations which seek to maintain and improve the quality of life for our area. Asheville has a strong tradition of civic involvement and it shows!
“Greatest Destination Food City?” There are wonderful chefs here who encourage each other and foster creativity. One of our favorite restaurants is the Junction, located in the River Arts District. The owner, Charles, is committed to staffing his kitchen with local chefs, most of whom trained at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College (AB Tech). In addition to providing great food and employment opportunities, the restaurant also functions as an art gallery with regular new exhibits and art openings.
Another chef who does a lot to make food in Asheville interesting is Steve Goff, chef and co-owner of the King James Public House. If there is a food competition, a pop-up dinner or benefit, Steve will in some way be involved. He is an avid supporter of local provisioners and is one of the people who spear-head the “Keep Asheville Local” movement.
Steve and Charles are just two of the many chefs who work together to keep the Asheville food scene vibrant. You will find them working to feed the homeless at the Downtown Welcome Table, supporting Asheville Sustainable Agriculture (ASAP) , and endlessly experimenting with making the dining experience in Asheville awesome.
After you visit the Biltmore (and here is the place where I give the nod to Ashley Jenkins and her team in Partnership Sales and Service at the Estate. It is with their help and support that we have been able to create the special packages and advantages for our guests when they visit the Biltmore) there is a whole raft of other people who want to show you the Asheville they love.
Wes of Asheville Moving Sidewalks can been seen all over town, leading his Segway Tours. Wes is a local who knows this town and while he is amusing and his Segway Tour is fun the best part is that he will show you things you probably would miss without his loving eye and knowledge.
And then there is Alan Muskat, the “Mushroom Man”. What can I say? Alan is an Ivy League educated scholar who lives and eats through foraging in our forests. While spouting poetry and other pieces of whimsy, he will lead you on a hunt for wild mushrooms through the forests surrounding Asheville. Don’t worry, he won’t let you take home anything that might be bad for you. Even better, if you would like he will arrange for one of the restaurants in town to prepare a meal for you using the “fruits” of your labors.
We first met Josh when he was one of the originators of Eating Asheville, a walking food and drink tour of downtown Asheville. He has since moved on to developing Asheville Brewery Tours, an upscale and more personal version of the Asheville Brews Cruise.
These are just a few of the entrepreneurs in Asheville who make our town unique, interesting and fun. There is pretty much something for everyone, and James and I would be delighted to help you find the right tour or activity for you. Just give us a call at 828-254-3608!