A 1920s-era building on Biltmore Avenue in Asheville, N.C. has housed a variety of restaurants over the years, but the latest entry into Asheville’s “foodtopia” scene gives nod to the 20s feel. Chestnut, which opened in September 2012, features a stylish often-changing menu amid comfortable seating, tin ceiling, and art nouveau ironwork crafted by a local artisan.
“We do American food,” said co-owner Kevin Westmoreland, “but there are hints of Asian, Southern and French. Actually Joe’s background is heavily based in French cuisine. We’re also paying attention to the mixology side of the bar using fresh squeezed ingredients, and we have 14 beers on tap. Most are local.”
Co-owned by chef Joe Scully and Kevin Westmoreland, this is the second restaurant this duo has created. They first opened the Corner Kitchen in Biltmore Village in 2004. It’s as popular with locals as with tourists who stop in for a bite to eat after exploring George Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate, and even won presidential attention. Barack and Michelle Obama chose the Corner Kitchen for a dining spot with friends when they vacationed in Asheville in April 2010.
Westmoreland says they weren’t convinced about the location on Biltmore Avenue until they went downstairs. There, in a 3,000 square-foot space once used by Oscar Wong’s Highland Brewing Company, they recognized the potential for a catering kitchen. Catering was something they had offered since the start, but they could only accommodate small groups of 50 to 75 people. Now, with this enhanced space they can please crowds of hundreds.
Chestnut joins several new businesses on Biltmore Avenue, including Wicked Weed Brewing and the Aloft Hotel, which features a public parking deck under the building—free for the first hour and only a buck for the next hour.
“Opening Chestnut was the right time for this end of Biltmore Avenue,” said Westmoreland. “We knew if we didn’t do it now, we’d regret it.”