Adventures in Asheville
This is my first real blog, so easy on me please.
That is if you don’t count Tumblr, and for all intents and purposes, and everyone else’s opinion, I’m not.
Let me first give you a little backstory on me and what I do so that you will understand why I could be the most qualified person to be writing a blog of this nature:
Born and raised in Asheville, NC. Okay, technically Barnardsville. Never heard of Barnardsville? Well all 2,000 of us are disappointed in you. It’s a rural haven about 20 minutes north of downtown AVL, home of beautiful Appalachian mountains, a river that supplied me with a childhood full of adventure and trout, cows, little white churches every quarter mile, a diner called Sheena’s, and up until about 15 years ago vast acres of tobacco farms. I wouldn’t trade a minute of my childhood and I realize how blessed I was to grow up there and still make as much time for it as I can. For the most part though, this blog will be about Asheville where we all traveled to on the weekends growing up. And wow, how it has changed. Barnardsville hasn’t changed much at all, we’ve lost the tobacco farms and we got a zip lining course but other than that it’s still pretty much the same old town I love.
Asheville though, it’s a different story. A story that we are frantically writing and all wondering if we are in the climax or maybe just getting started. Top ten list after top ten list, we keep making them and making our way up them. I guess that whole list thing got started about six or seven years ago when we started getting recognized as Beer City USA, going up against the big guys like Portland and Denver, and our little town of 76,000 and 9 breweries won outright for a few years in a row. Then it was all the other lists, best food scene in the southeast, best city for a start up business, best small town in America, top wedding destination city in America. Hearing all this boosted our ego and brought entrepreneurs who have have traveled all over the world to take up their craft in our mountain city. Now you don’t just have to drink and eat local, you can shop local, you can build local, you can wear local, you can live local. Our micro-economy is incredible and you can see that the people that run these businesses in town know their craft and know it well. Why have a watered down Budweiser when you can have a Burial Surf Wax IPA, made with the best local ingredients around and not some mass grown hops that have been shipped all over the country and added to genetically modified rice? You won’t find a Starbucks downtown (okay you will, but I’m not telling you where because it’s hidden, don’t tell anyone) and for a good reason. You can get the best light roasted Ethiopian coffee who’s beans haven’t been frozen and over two weeks old (the threshold for keeping fresh coffee beans) and get it from a staff that is incredibly friendly and love their jobs, because they get paid living wage and aren’t just grinding through a minimum wage job so that they can work somewhere else ASAP. I’m astounded why anyone would go to Apple-bee’s when you can go to Farmburger which has better selection, far more qualified and happier staff, locally sourced food that’s fresh and not just been microwaved and it won’t make you feel terrible after eating it. All around the same price range. Asheville doesn’t play around when it comes to quality and authenticity and that’s why 27,000 people visit us every day.
That’s not to say that it’s easy to make it in this town. I am one of the lucky natives that has a degree and works in my field and for that I am extremely grateful. However, I am a rare case. I meet people every day that are waiting tables with masters degrees and to me the most sad case is when another native whose family has been here for many generations and is forced out because the incredibly high cost of living has forced them to look elsewhere and be separated from their people. We live in a tourist driven economy with a housing market that has been blown out of proportion by an influx of wealthy people retiring here and not bringing jobs. Even on the outskirts of town you won’t find any large office building, no corporate hubs, not at all. Truckers charge $.75 more a mile just to make the trip up Old Fort mountain and all the inconveniences discourage “real jobs” from moving here. The fact is, flat land is just more convenient and logistically sound for industrialization.
However, we have found our niche’ and we are going for it. Some of the biggest moves in past few years have been the addition of Sierra Nevada and New Belgium building breweries here in town, bringing hundreds of jobs to town. Our craft beer scene is exploding, now we boast almost 30 breweries in the Asheville area and adding more and more. Some people say we are working towards becoming the Napa Valley of beer, and I believe them. Business owners in other professions sometimes scoff at these claims and remind us of all the great local offerings we had long before our first craft brewery, Highland Brewing, began its operation in 1994. We are reluctant to claim ourselves as Beer City USA, because we are Asheville, NC and that’s something to be proud of.
So what do I do here in Asheville what makes me qualified besides being a native? Well I might have the perfect job to validate my qualifications for this endeavor. I work for a really innovative digital platform called Dig Local. What it is is a smartphone app and website that promotes only locally owned businesses and give tourists and locals alike a great way of finding and keeping up with the best authentic Asheville has to offer. It’s Tuesday and want to know who has pint specials? We got it on the app. Looking to take a zip-line trip in a couple months? Or maybe just wanting to do some shopping on Lexington Avenue and want to know what each shop has to offer beforehand? This is where you can find it. I am the Account Executive, meaning I find new members for the site, keep up with all the new Asheville happenings, and make sure our existing members are happy. So essentially I hang out in the breweries, restaurants, shops, recreation spots, and other businesses with the owners and run my mouth for a living and find creative ways to market them. So that combined with living here my whole life is why I think that I can really bring something special to anyone that wants a little inside taste into whats going on in Asheville.
So you might be wondering what this blog is going to be about, and I prefer not to put any boundaries on it right now. Like the city I write about, I prefer to let it grow into whatever it needs to be. I suspect a lot of it will be list based, my favorite restaurants, coffee shops, maybe some reviews, news on whats going on, changes and such. But I guarantee the content will be relevant, easy to read, and applicable to everyone, whether you live here, plan on visiting, or are even a native to the area.