ASHEVILLE – A new downtown event is set to debut with exclusive deals and one-of-a-kind experiences for all.
Grove Arcade will host its inaugural Summer Festival from 12-7 pm July 30. The event will include indoor and outdoor games for all ages, live demonstrations and music performances, food and drink specials, plus surprises.
The new annual series is to provide an opportunity for local artists, crafters and retailers to showcase their artworks and products, she said. It also invites guests to try a new food or beverage business or revisit a favorite destination. More so, it’s to revive a sense of community in downtown Asheville.
“Kind of like our Winter Wonderland does in the winter season with the tree lighting and Santa Claus and carolers and Nutcracker dancers, we just want to create a place for people to celebrate a season,” Amber Ammons, senior property manager, said. “We want to have people out enjoying life again, creating more economic stimulus to downtown Asheville.”
Constructed in 1929, the Grove Arcade is now inhabited by contemporary retail businesses on the ground level with residences on the upper levels.
Huli Sue’s BBQ & Grill is one of the restaurants to move in, making its debut last year.
“(It’s been) nothing less than the warmest, most supportive, most caring and giving business community that we’ve experienced, and we’ve lived in Arizona, Washington, Japan, Canada and the Pacific. It’s been phenomenal. A great support network,” co-owner Lisa Smith-Vann said. “We’re so blessed to be a part of that and blessed to be a part of the history of the Grove Arcade because in 100 years people will look back and know we were a part of that.”
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Grove Arcade is a popular attraction for tourists, but Asheville and regional residents are urged not to miss out on seeing the latest the historic site has to offer.
“It’s not just a spot where you can come have dinner, you can eat and spend a day,” Ammons said. “Have a coffee, a beignet, read and shop and have lunch, then walk around the city, have ice cream and come back. It’s a great spot, if you’re a local, to come and hang out the whole day.”
Parking may be a concern for downtown visitors, but parking is available at street meters — free on nights and weekends — and at Wall Street Garage, she said.
“It’s not as hard as it used to be to get to downtown,” she said.
The Summer Festival provides a chance to meet Grove Arcade’s new and longtime tenants that range from art galleries to home décor and jewelry stores to spas.
“It’s an opportunity to eat, to work and to live and to play around Asheville in one sitting,” she said.
On Restaurant Row, the eateries, cafés, brewery and champagne bar will have drink deals, free samples and lunch and dinner specials during the event.
“We have 10 restaurants around the building and a lot of snack places,” Ammons said. “We have the brewery now on the corner and the champagne and wine bar, so there’s something for everyone. And this event is also for children and families.”
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Asheville Proper, Battery Park Champagne Bar, Burgerworx, Carmel’s are Modesto are some of the places to dine. Grab a coffee and pastry at Bebettes: A New Orleans Coffeehouse, Summit Coffee and Well-Bred Bakery & Café.
“All of the restaurants and businesses are giving a little something special and putting themselves out on the sidewalks. There’s going to be music and things not on the regular menus,” Smith-Vann said. “They’ll get a little taste of what the Grove Arcade is on a large-scale collectively and on an individual scale for the individual businesses.”
At Summer Festival, The Wedge Brewing will have specials on craft beer and wine. Beverages may be taken to go and enjoyed while strolling through the event.
Baba Nahm plans to have giveaways of food, T-shirts and other prizes.
Huli Sue’s BBQ & Grill will churn out pineapple and mango lung hi mui soft serve ice cream — it’s vegan and dairy-free. It’s inspired by a popular Disney treat, Smith-Vann said. Also, get a bite of spam musubi and hurricane popcorn.
A live raffle will begin at 5 pm with prizes from Adoratherapy, Baba Nahm, Blue Dharma Fine Art Gallery, Four Corners, Mission at the Grove, Serenity & Scott, Wake Foot Spa and more. Guests will receive one free raffle ticket and may purchase additional tickets with proceeds to benefit Food Connection AVL.
Activities are planned for guests of all ages and various interests.
Tap into musical talents with lessons at Woodrow Instruments. Get crafty at NC Crafts with knitting and sewing sessions. Become the canvas with henna tattoos and tap into the spiritual realm with an aura reading at Adoratherapy. Watch as Bill Bowers paints live at Blue Dharma Fine Art Gallery and Jason Probstein leads a glass blowing at Mountain Made.
Also, kids can get hands-on experiences in art painting projects at Mountain Made. Other family-friendly activities include neon painting, sidewalk chalk drawing and face painting.
Jam along to tunes courtesy of Travers Brothership, Random Acts of Music, Tommy Partin and other local musicians throughout the day.
Summer Festival is an occasion to see Grove Arcade enlivened by the community in one day. Yet, the work to keep the venue at its full glory is happening every day.
A 10-year project plan of renovation and maintenance is underway to maintain Grove Arcade for generations to come, Ammons said.
“We’re finishing our terracotta restoration this year. The exterior façade is getting repaired. We also have older windows betting replaced on the fourth and fifth floors,” she said. “We’re constantly looking at deferred maintenance, preventive maintenance and ongoing upgrades.”
Planned and ongoing projects include improving the condition of floors and stairwells, as well as repainting and upgrading the crown molding in the building, she said. Windows and awnings are scheduled for cleaning after the terracotta restoration, and the parking garage will be resurfaced and restriped this year. Next year, rehabilitation of the elevators will begin.
“We want to be the heart of the city and we want to make sure that we symbolize what Asheville’s about,” Ammons said. “Being a native to this area, that’s what I love about Grove Arcade is that it really does try to bring everything that’s special about Asheville and Western North Carolina to part in everything we do.”
Tiana Kennell is the food and dining reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA Today Network. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter / Instagram @PrincessOfPage. Please help support this type of journalism with a subscription to the Citizen Times.