Eat Like a Local in Asheville, NC

I am very fortunate that restaurant executive recruiting is a job that I can do based from almost anywhere. After several years of moving around the country and expanding my horizons, I have decided to put my roots down back in the town where I attended college: Asheville, NC. Asheville has wonderful people, scenery, culture, architecture, and quality of life, and fortunately it has become a foodie’s town, too, filled with unique, independent restaurants.

I’m going to let you in on some my favorite local gems:

Asheville, NC

Biscuit Head: A comfort food experience to make your head explode. This fast-casual spot in hip West Asheville has a decadent, wildly creative, scratch menu with face-sized biscuits and choices to please everyone. Ever-changing specials always include a bacon of the day (i.e.: chili pineapple, pecan praline), gravy of the day, and an irresistible self-serve jam bar with a mind-boggling array of fresh jam, flavored butters, and hot sauces. Don’t forget coconut-stewed callaloo collards and smoked chevre grits.

Nine Mile: Asheville’s historic neighborhood, Montford, has rambling Victorians, bed-and-breakfasts, and vintage bungalows. Right in the middle of this enchanting residential area is a bustling Jamaican restaurant, Nine Mile, with a cozy bar and an open kitchen. Portions are generous and every entrée includes a green salad and “natty bread.” I’m kind of addicted to their spicy jerk tomato sauce.

Ben’s Tune Up: Ben’s Tune Up has to be experienced to be believed: the only restaurant in the world that combines kitschy “Ameriental” food, craft cocktails, and a decayed automotive repair theme. The building is a stunning remodel of one of the crumbling mechanic shops found in the south end of downtown, with communal outdoor seating in an urban garden-like setting. Nosh on dumplings, yakitori, and ramen noodle bowls, or family feasts of Peking duck and suckling pig. Stay for some of the best late night dance parties in town.

Ben's Tune Up

Luella’s BBQ: Another local BBQ establishment in town has gotten more press because President Obama has dined there twice, but if I had to entertain politicians and foster diplomacy, I’d bring folks to eat at Luella’s on Merrimon Ave. for the brisket, fabulous sides, and great live bluegrass music.

French Broad Chocolate Lounge: Named after the river that flows through town, this place has a fanatical focus on artisan, organic, fairly-traded, living-wage paying, and highest-quality sourced chocolate treats. You can’t go wrong with any of their desserts or rich “liquid truffles” in an array of flavors. It fairly buzzes with groups of friends, families, dates, and solo seekers of finely crafted and curated chocolate delicacies. Live jazz frequently distracts from the long line, and there’s a small retail section.

My list could go on and on with places like Zambra, Dobra Tea, Tod’s Tasties, and Kathmandu Café, but I’ll stop here — before I’ve even mentioned the beer.

If you want more insider tips on Asheville, or if you need to recruit outstanding executive talent for your restaurant company nationwide, don’t hesitate to contact me: Rebecca Patt at

Rebecca Patt specializes in executive recruiting for the restaurant industry. Need to recruit top leadership for your team? Contact her at

Executive Chat Featuring Jack Butorac, CEO of Marco’s Pizza

Jack Butorac, CEO of Marco's Pizza

Jack Butorac, former Chi Chi’s executive, has grown Marco’s Pizza from 111 stores when he first joined the company in 2004 to currently 415 stores in 30 states and the Bahamas. There are approximately 1400 stores in the franchise pipeline. RP: What’s new and exciting about Marco’s Pizza? JB: We are growing dramatically and achieving…

Executive Chat with John Eucalitto, President of Jake’s Wayback Burgers


Tell me the basic stats of Jake’s Wayback Burgers: how many locations do you have and where? We currently have 70 locations open and operating in the US in 17 states. We have another 63 that are sold and under development, and we have commitments for another 88 internationally. We have one master franchisee who…

Executive Chat featuring Mike Mohammed, CEO and CFO of Chronic Tacos


Michael Mohammed is the CEO and CFO of Chronic Tacos Enterprises, a fast-casual franchise based out of San Clemente, CA, with 45 locations and growing. After helping finance the Vancouver franchise location in 2010, Michael and his three brothers acquired the company in 2012. Michael has an extensive background in real estate development, finance and…

Top Five Behavioral Interviewing Tips

Tell me who you really are

If you ever find yourself in a job interview where the interviewer is asking you questions along the lines of “tell me about a time when you encountered ______ on your job and how did you respond?,” you are in the middle of a behavioral interview. Here’s how you ace it: Communicate clearly and with…

Executive Chat with Steve Erickson, president of PDQ

Steve Erickson, president of PDQ

Steve Erickson, president of PDQ and the former senior vice president of national operations for Outback Steakhouse, took a few minutes while preparing for the Cary, NC, opening of PDQ’s tenth location to share his perspective on this unique concept and where it is headed. RP: What makes PDQ different and unique? SE: When you…

Executive Chat with Chris Elliott, CEO of Beef ‘O’Brady’s and The Brass Tap

Chris Elliott, CEO of Beef 'O'Brady's and The Brass Tap

Accomplished restaurant executive Chris Elliott became CEO of FSC Franchise Co., LLC, the Tampa-based parent company for Beef ‘O’Brady’s Family Sports Pubs and the emerging concept The Brass Tap, in March of 2010. What are you most proud of in your work with Beef ‘O’Brady’s? Well, probably the thing I am most proud of is…

Q&A with Kevin Bazner, President and CEO of A&W Restaurants Inc.

Kevin Bazner, President and CEO of A&W Restaurants Inc.

A team filled with its strongest promoters – including long-time leading executive Kevin Bazner and long-time adorable mascot Rooty the Great Root Bear, have recently returned to iconic QSR chain A&W to make a splash at the company known for its signature root beer, floats, frozen treats, burgers, and hot dogs. A&W started in 1919…

Inspiration to Live a Ridiculously Good Life: No Arms, No Legs, No Worries

For proof that a positive attitude and strong spirit can transcend circumstances, look no further than Nick Vujicic, author of Life Without Limits: Inspiration for a Ridiculously Good Life. Born in Australia in 1982, Nick Vujicic’s parents and doctors were shocked when he was born without any arms or legs, save for one tiny foot. Growing…

Paul Mangiamele, CEO of Bennigan’s Franchising Company

Paul Mangiamele

Caution: CEO Paul Mangiamele’s enthusiasm for Bennigan’s is so strong, it’s infectious. By the time you get to this end of this article, you may be “bleeding green” too. Mangiamele joined Bennigan’s Franchising Company in May 2011. The casual-dining company currently has 47 international stores and 35 domestic stores, including two corporate stores. Mangiamele also…