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DISH ON DINING: Things are abuzz at Book & Bee Cafe & Tea

The Covid economy has not slowed the opening of new restaurants and brewpubs in Hendersonville and beyond.

A new restaurant on N.C. 191 is drawing big crowds, a Tex-Mex restaurant has just opened in Horse Shoe, a deli, donut and ice cream shop is open on Chadwick Avenue and D9 Brewing Co. just celebrated its grand opening on North Main Street.
The Covid slowdown of tourism actually led to the opening of The Book & Bee Café & Tea, a popular new gathering spot on Mountain Road at N.C. 191.
“I can tell you in one word,” proprietor Lesley Shipley says when asked why she gave up her travel business job. “Pandemic!”
The family decided to repurpose the building and take the plunge into the restaurant business. For a theme Shipley, chose two things she loved – English literature and bees – hence the name. The English décor with an ample presence of bees seems to fit well for the new comfort food eatery, which opened in February. The Academic Travel Service agency is now downstairs and still operated by Greg Shipley.
As you enter the café you pass by the bright red London phone booth. Each step leading to the restaurant is inscribed with the name of a book you may have had in English lit – “Macbeth,” “Jayne Eyre,” “Great Expectations” and more. It doesn’t take long to see that the Book and Bee is not your granny’s tea room.
The restaurant seats 49 indoors and tables are spread among several themed rooms. The Eagle & Child Room looks more like a gentleman’s pub, featuring hunting pictures, a faux copper ceiling and “book shelf” wallpaper. Next door is the colorful Jubilee Room. “We gave the Queen a nod on that room,” said Shipley. The Stratford Room boasts a stone fireplace, a long table that can seat 10 and walls decorated with pictures of — what else? — bees. Patrons can also dine on the porch under red umbrellas.
The Book & Bee stocks more than a dozen types of tea. The lunch menu offers sandwiches, quiche, shepherd’s pie and bangers and mash. Shipley said that they also have meat loaf with onion gravy, a favorite with the men. A quick glance around the restaurant revealed that the café is not just for ladies.
Shipley, daughter Victoria Cummins and granddaughter Emily Shipley keep the place buzzing. “Compared to the travel business this is really hard work,” Cummins says. “But it is rewarding.” Lesley Shipley quickly adds, “But it’s also fun.” She has been known to break out into song at times without complaint from diners.
“People on this side of town were so ready for this type of establishment,” Shipley says when asked about lines out the door. “They like the décor, the food, and the family atmosphere. It’s like family.”
The Book & Bee, 795 Mountain Road, is open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Later in the summer the owners plan to open for breakfast.

Quick bites

• Taco Fiesta Mexican Kitchen is now open at 3754 Brevard Road in Horse Shoe. Open seven days a week for lunch and supper. Hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. seven days a week. “We will serve traditional Mexican food that should be enjoyed by many,” manager Francis Torres told the Lightning in February. Torres is in partnership with Omar Macias who owns Ay Caramba, a Mexican restaurant in East Asheville.
• It might seem out of the way, but people are finding Breedloves at 316 Chadwick Ave. The “Love in Every Bite” sandwich shops specializes in hot dogs, salads, specialty sandwiches and wraps and a major side hustle of sweets: ice cream, sundaes, milkshakes and donuts. Among the donut flavors last week were s’mores, funnel cake, turtle, PB&J, Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles. Hours are 7:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Operated by Jenny and Mike Breedlove, the deli has indoor and screened porch seating.