An exclusive look at Urban Orchard’s new South Slope location.
It’s no secret that Asheville’s South Slope is every beer lover’s dream come true. From Green Man Brewery to Burial Beer Co., South Slope has a variety of breweries that differ in size, shape and speciality. Some have an in-house kitchen while others invite local food trucks to satisfy their guests’ taste buds. But beginning this October, the South Slope breweries have a new, yet somewhat familiar, business to welcome to the block. Urban Orchard Cider Company, an Asheville-based cidery, opens the doors to its new location this October, celebrating growth, development and maturation in a space that is at least twice the size of their original West Asheville location. Recently, we sat down with Urban Orchard Marketing and Creative Director, Jeff Anderson, to receive the inside scoop on the new location.
When did Urban Orchard open and by whom?
The first (and only location until now) opened on October 30, 2013. It was started by Thom and Lori Miller and their sons, Zach and Brodi Miller, as well as their daughter, Josie, and son-in-law, Shilo Mielke. And it’s still owned by the same family to this day.
What makes Urban Orchard stand out from other cideries?
Urban Orchard has several components that make its product unique and that continue to set the tone for new cideries. All our craft ciders are made with local Hendersonville apples and are aged for the time of eight months to one year. This is a costly decision, but we feel that it makes a big difference in the finished product. We also utilize the huge selection of other agriculture products from our local farmers, including honey, herbs and hot peppers. Over the years we’ve been quite adventurous in our flavor combinations and that has led to a style list of nearly 100 craft ciders. We feel that balanced execution is a strong quality of ours.
Tell me about the new location.
The new South Slope location is an expansion project that will be home to Urban Orchard’s new headquarters and all of it’s production. The need for much more production and maturation space has been the driving force of the decision to grow now. Our new South Slope location is at 24 Buxton Avenue, and was the previous home of ENO (Eagles Nest Outfitters), which has also moved due to growth. This building was mainly a wide open warehouse space with a few offices and a loading dock. Over the past few years we’ve transformed it into a stylish and spacious tasting room, aging facility and production area. We envision the tasting room will offer a wide range of experiences for our customers. There will be live music often, community gatherings and educational opportunities. The adjacent loading dock will double as a stage and small concert venue that is free to the public during the warmer months.
How much time and work has gone into the making of the new location?
There has been literally years of work that have went into the preparation of this expansion. It began as a lofty hope and has now developed into the perfect fit with the best timing. Countless hours have went into ensuring that every element was intentional and with the future in mind. Our team has become a well oiled machine during the last five years and we have learned from all of our previous experiences. It’s funny how you quickly become proficient in areas that you never dreamed or had a desire to, out of sheer necessity. We are thankful for all of the knowledge we have gained during the process.
When do you expect the new location to open?
We expect to begin “soft-openings” in mid-September and run to our Grand Opening Celebration on October 27th, 2018. The official Grand Opening will be on the same date as the original Urban Orchard Cider Co. in West Asheville, October 30th. Each year, we throw a huge Halloween party on the weekend closest to the holiday, which explains the difference in dates.
What’s your favorite part of the new location?
I have a couple favorite parts actually. One, the shiny new tanks! The tanks are at the top of the list, not only because of how cool they look, but what they mean to our future growth. This addition will be necessary to supply our new and much larger tasting room in the South Slope, as well as further distribution and eventually packaged product to eventually be found all over the South East.
The second is definitely the fancy new tasting room. Many long hours went into the conception and execution, so it is easy to stand back and gawk at the final result in awe. Taking something in this scale from an idea to reality, is mind-blowing. There has been a great deal of trust placed in one another and we have came together in a big way to make this happen. Its kind of like how the Transformers form to create a much stronger force, or how Thundercats join forces for battle, or and unanimated example from the famous Aristotle quote: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Synergy made this project happen as smoothly as it has.
Tell me about some of the artistic elements of this location.
The first to mention is the massive graffiti piece that artists, Ian Wilkinson and Ishmael did on the outside of the building. This one is of large condensation bubbles trickling down the side of the building throughout and a 20s style ad of a beautiful lady holding a bottle of Urban Orchard Cider. Stand back and marvel in the realism of this piece, completed with spray paint. We couldn’t be happier with their work.
A couple of other artistic elements to mention are in the tasting room that I have created. One is approximately 17 feet by 55 feet and was treated as an oversized oil painting, in the style of monochromatic black and grey Venetian Plaster. It is one of the first things your eye will be drawn to when entering through the main entrance. Another eye catcher is the 40 feet by 4 feet moss lettering above the custom built booths. All of the walls and large color treatments are in the grey family so that the colors that we add are explosive. This installation is chartreuse green against a medium grey wall with focus lighting to highlight the texture of the moss.
There are two large custom light fixtures and the main exterior signage that were built by Warren Perdue Studios and will surely be mentioned when talking about this new space. They are all one-of-a-kind and are products of our design collaboration.
The booth upholstery was all done locally by Erin Hardy of The Recovery Studio in West Asheville, our WAVL cidery neighbor. The booths that those are installed on as well as the cabinets behind the bar, the concrete bars themselves and many other custom built items are products of local builder, Peter Sheuerman and a list of dedicated friends/helpers too long to mention. Certainly hand-crafted pieces of art as well. As all of you will see, art is very alive in this space.
Exclusive information about the new location: Over the years, the building at 24 Buxton has served as a home to ENO, an old motorcycle shop/hangout and a Hav-a-Tampa/Tampa Nugget cigar factory. You will see slight nods to the cigar history in subtle design elements.