Asheville’s S&W building enters (another) new era
S&W Artisanal is scheduled for a December opening
Asheville Citizen-Times USA TODAY NETWORK
ASHEVILLE – Asheville’s historic S& W Cafeteria building is in the midst of an effort to restore it to its former status as a convivial center of community dining.
S& W Artisanal, slated for a December opening, will convene a warren of dining and drinking areas, each with a Greek-influenced menu and each with its own feel within the walls of the ornate art deco building.
Those walls are being painted and layered in some places with real gold leaf. In other places, the decor is relatively untouched, save for a buffing here and there.
The stone steps that descend to the main floor, for example, still bear a gentle dip in the middle from the passage of feet over the better part of a century.
The mezzanine bar, with its spectacular windows, has been reduced in length to allow guests sitting at the upstairs fine-dining restaurant to drink in more of the view.
Meanwhile, in an adjoining space that once served as the home for Sadie’s Seafood Pub, crystals were hung in new chandeliers Thursday in preparation for The Times, one of two bars that will serve S& W patrons, and the first stage of the project slated to open.
Behind S& W Artisanal is restaurant designer Theodore Kondylis, restaurateur Sakis Elefantis and local businessmen Douglas and Kenneth Ellington, the great-nephews of the architect Douglas Ellington, who designed the S& W building in 1929.
The elder Ellington also designed Asheville City Hall, First Baptist Church downtown, the main building at Asheville High School, the Merrimon Avenue Fire Station and others.
With so many of Ellington’s buildings in public use, his grand-nephews said the S& W building was the only one they could bring back to the family. The brothers bought the building in January for $1.75 million.
“One of our goals in purchasing the building was to preserve the architectural details and not to make a lot of changes,” said Douglas Ellington, who with his brother Kenneth Ellington also owns MedStream Anesthesia Solutions.
“And we also wanted to bring in a local business that was similar in purpose to the S& W Cafeteria building’s first use as a cafeteria, but with an updated concept.”
Ellington said it was also important to nurture the underutilized building back into a bustling hub of activity from breakfast until late at night.
“We want to see it used as a gathering place for people of the community, and one that adds to the vibrancy that already exists downtown,” he added.
To that end, S& W Artisanal will have numerous zones for dining and drinking, from The Times bar with its midcentury modern chairs to the woodpaneled private dining room that overlooks it, which will be outfitted with the technology to host board meetings.
Additionally, the second-floor mezzanine will serve as a space for fine dining. The gleaming black bar will serve craft cocktails and some Greek liqueurs, cordials and wines.
But the centerpiece of the space will be the market and cafe, which will be open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Elefantis said the space will be brightly lit, with shelves lined with products shipped from Greece, including top-tier olive oils, herbs, spices and condiments.
There will be a space for ordering coffee and espresso, a spot where bakers knead dough on marble-topped work tables, another area laden with classic Greek pastries and cookies.
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“One of our goals in purchasing the building was to preserve the architectural details and not to make a lot of changes. And we also wanted to bring in a local business that was similar in purpose to the S& W Cafeteria building’s first use as a cafeteria, but with an updated concept.”
The S& W building on Patton Avenue in Asheville. MATT BURKHARTT/CITIZEN-TIMES
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