The thirty stations (stops) along Asheville’s Urban Trail are a walking tour of the city’s history. Station #7 is the 1929 S&W Building—an Art Deco masterpiece designed by the same architect who gave the city its art nouveau City Hall building. Douglas Ellington’s remarkable designs were influenced by his time in Paris at École des Beaux-Arts. The S&W building was the home of the elegant S&W Cafeteria that for almost half a century was the place to be seen in downtown Asheville. Unlike modern cafeterias, the S&W’s ornate interior and white linen and china service was quite upscale. Times changed, and in 1974, the cafeteria served its last customer in downtown Asheville, relocating to the city’s new mall. But the three-story building with its front facade sheathed in grey ashlar featuring polychrome ornamentation and exotic stylistic motifs continued to be regarded as an important architectural showpiece for Asheville. In 1977 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The grand old property is getting a new life as a dining and event hot spot in the downtown Asheville Historic District. Two nephews of Douglas Ellington have reopened the property as the S&W Market. The revamped interior evokes the energy of the original cafeteria, but white linen and china has given way to a food hall format where diners can select from a host of different independent restaurateurs. The main level offers seating for up to 65 guests and standing tables for another 20. There are 100 seats on the mezzanine and an outdoor patio accommodates 40. The facility includes five thousand square feet that has been set aside as private event space accommodating up to 150 people. The event area, named Circa 29, has its own bar and has a speakeasy-style and vibe.
The current restaurateur lineup brings some of Asheville’s best street food into an astonishing restaurant setting and includes:
- Bun Intended with a Thai street food menu with dishes like Hickory Nut Gap pork belly bao and build your own bowls with traditional sides including som tum salad and larb gai with minced chicken and sticky rice.
- Buxton Chicken Palace with their iconic fried chicken sandwiches.
- Farm Dogs featuring local grass-fed hot dogs, handcrafted sausages, and locally-make pretzels
- Peace Love Tacos serving taco salads, street corn, nachos, all with responsibly sourced meats and vegetables, and of course, their famous tacos.
- Times Bar serving up creative seasonally inspired craft cocktails and coffee.
- Highland Brewing Company with a lineup of Highland’s small batch and barrel-aged beer and a quick-serve bar.
- Hop Ice Cream with its homemade dairy and vegan ice creams, classic milkshakes, sundaes, desserts, and made-from scratch waffle cones.
The S&W Market is located at 56 Patton Ave.—just a little over a mile from the Applewood Manor bed and breakfast inn. Weekday hours are 11:30 am to 10:00 pm and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. The hours may change with seasons. And the restaurant lineup or menus are likely to evolve over time. For the latest, check the website www.swmarketavl.com.