LEXINGTON CORNER MARKET / BODEGA COMING TO DOWNTOWN ASHEVILLE
NAME: Lexington Corner Market | ADDRESS: 58 College Street, Asheville | SOCIAL MEDIA: Facebook Page
OPENING: The beginning of March, as permitting process allows. | HOURS: 7am-10pm Sunday-Thurs, Friday and Saturday 7am-12am
I recently ran into my friend Reba, who owns Adorn Salon and Boutique on College street. She’s opening an old school bodega on the corner of Lexington and College with her husband Evar, who is the owner of Paul Taylor Custom Sandals and Belts on Wall Street. As we stood in the pre-snowmageddon chill, she told me they’ll have all the usual stuff, and more! When I posted about it on my FaceBook page, people seemed more than interested, so I asked her if she would to do a 5 Q’s interview with me. She said yes, and got me her answers right away. Here they are…
STU – When I think of a classic, old school, neighborhood bodega, I think of a place where folks can dash out of their front door, and walk to get the basics, as well as the odd thing that they might need in a pinch. Things like batteries, and Bic lighters, paper towels and bathroom tissue, toothpaste, aspirin… a sponge… As well as a small selection of basic grocery items, like 1/2 and 1/2, coffee filters, salt, flour, spices, dry goods, canned goods, and even fresh fruit, and sometimes prepared foods. Now days, when I walk into a modern “convenience store,” what I see more often than not is vice for sale. IE: cigarettes, alcohol, lottery tickets, porno mags, junk food, and even drug paraphernalia, in the form of blunt wrappers and such. Let’s not forget the whole bath salts thing. Can you please give an indication of what types of things, and what specific items might be for sale in your store?
REBECCA – We will be more of the traditional bodega that you describe. We will carry a small, well curated selection of beer, wine, tobacco, and even blunt wrappers and rolling papers, but our space is limited, so it won’t be our focus. I’m not really interested in the lottery, bath salts, etc. More of the quick needs, a forgotten ingredient for a meal, wine on your way to a friend’s house, a quick snack to tide you over, etc. It is our intention to offer an affordable/mainstream version of an item as well as the organic or premium version. PBR +local beer, gatorade+buchi, organic milk+non-organic milk, white bread+baguette, etc.
S – The best neighborhood Bodegas I went to when I lived in Boston and Chicago also had a deli counter and / or some prepared foods for sale, and were famous for their sandwiches, not their cigarette selection. Are you going to have any prepared food for sale? Any hot food for sale? Please be as detailed as you want!
R – We will be preparing fresh sandwiches in house and will offer warm, ready to eat soup, pasta salad, etc. As well as refrigerated and frozen fresh food to take home to prepare. Whatever I can source from local producers such as Gypsy Queen Cuisine hummus, Hickory Nut Gap Farm meats, City Bakery breads, etc. I think there is so much local product available from beer to produce to bread, cheese, and on and on, the bigger challenge is going to be narrowing down our wish list to keep our inventory tight since — as I mentioned — we are tight on space. All of our in-house prepared food will be inspired by the European bodegas, or as they are known in Berlin: Kiosks. Hearty, rustic, fresh; elevated peasant food, basically. We will be offering Penny Cup coffee (drip only) brewed or by the pound. We are working on a special “Bodega Blend” with them!
S – A lot of us remember when Wells Lowery opened up a little place called Bodega on South Lexington Ave a while back. Although it didn’t last long, I thought it was very cool and groovy, he even had a live DJ playing in there sometimes! Is your bodega gonna have that funky Asheville feel to it? Will there be a DJ?
R – The bodega won’t be quite as funky as Wells’ but will be Solid Asheville vibes! We do have a little raised platform up front, so if someone wanted to bring decks and spin on the weekends, I would be open to that. We are trying to work with Dig Local to install a phone charging station up there too, so people can sip a beer or wait on a friend while they charge up.
S – You have been one of the major forces behind keeping this town “local,” and even started the UNCHAIN AVL movement. Can you tell us how the new bodega fits in with your local philosophy?
R – I am definitely a ‘localista’ at heart, so we will be carrying as many local items as possible. I do know that we also have a lot of elderly and working people near by who can’t always afford the sometimes more expensive local items, so we will want to cater to those that need more affordable “mainstream” items as well. But if there is a local brand or version of something, we will always do our best to support Asheville and regional farmers and food producers. It’s really hard to find locally sourced, heritage batteries and TP, though! :)
S – Some people have suggested that you run for city council. Any plans?
R – I have no current plans to run for a political office. I prefer to stir up trouble and cheer people on from the sidelines.
BONUS Q: I was curious, and I figured you guys would be too, so I asked Reba if she knew what happened to the furniture shop that sed to be there. Here’s what she reported:
R – Aaron Bailey, who owned Edge Gallery, has placed much of his work in stores and galleries throughout WNC. His studio is in Brevard, where people can go see his work in progress, or pick out their own wood slab for custom orders. He recently got married and he and his wife are expecting. I imagine it will be easier for him to work from his home studio and leave the selling to other galleries.
Reba is one of my fave people ever and her vision of a great local market in the middle of downtown is right in line with my own concepts of what a “real” city should offer as part of its downtown experience. Reba is a visionary, and an advocate, as well as a smart business-woman and a successful capitalist, so if anyone can open and run the perfect downtown Asheville bodega, it’s her. She wraped-up our correspondence by writing:
“I am hoping to have some little tasting events either before or soon after we open- so I will let you know – and let me know if you have any other questions! Thank you so much for covering the bodega!”
Thank you, Reba, you’re the bomb!
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Stu Helm is an artist, writer, and podcaster living in Asheville, NC, and a frequent diner at local restaurants, cafes, food trucks, and the like. His tastes run from hot dogs and mac ‘n’ cheese, to haute cuisine, and his opinions are based on a lifetime of eating out. He began writing about food strictly to amuse his friends on Facebook.