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LIBATION NATION: Booda's Kitchen & Taproom opens on Barnwell Street

A standing room only crowd showed up on opening night of Booda's Kitchen & Taproom. A standing room only crowd showed up on opening night of Booda's Kitchen & Taproom.

Jeffrey “Booda” Hughes was smart enough to know that although his new taproom would be far from the only one in the region — there are more than 40 in Henderson and Buncombe counties alone —far from the only one in the city, and not even the only one within two blocks, at least he’d be one of the few with a brick-and-mortar kitchen.

Simple reason: “People want to drink some beer, but they want to eat, too,” he said. “So I felt like food was important.”
Important enough to be listed first in the name: Booda’s Brewing Co. Kitchen & Taproom.
You can’t meet a dude named Booda without asking, right?
His wife, Erin, coined the nickname back when they were high school sweethearts in Seminole, Florida, near St. Petersburg.
“I used to be skinny. My wife used to call me Boo and then as my belly grew she called me Booda,” he said.
Erin and Booda got to Hendersonville via the same path so many entrepreneurs, professionals and retirees have taken — summer camp. After they dropped off their daughter, Olivia, they’d stick around and explore.
Olivia, Erin and Jeffrey Hughes were busy serving on opening night. Olivia, Erin and Jeffrey Hughes were busy serving on opening night. “When she’d come up here for camp for two weeks, we’d go to different breweries and taste different beers,” he said. “Living in Florida, I was like, ‘Man, the weather here is so nice.’ It’s been probably like a five-year thing. We were gonna do it in Tampa and we said, ‘Let’s just go to Hendersonville.’ My wife loves it. We have family up here. So we decided to come up here and do it.”
For now, Booda’s is pouring guest brews from its 24 taps — all from North Carolina. Hughes expects to be brewing his own beers by early next year. The bar also offers hard cider and wine.
The menu includes shareables — a loaded baked potato, nachos, a charcuterie board — plus burgers, a short rib sandwich, quesadillas, chicken wings, flat bread, salad, fries and onion straws. Dessert choices include a cheesecake egg roll and Big Booda cookies (triple chocolate, peanut butter with Reese’s). In good weather, there’s outdoor seating on the dog friendly back deck.
On the cold night that it opened, Booda’s was already doing a brisk business in the kitchen. Its secret weapon was deployed: Diners didn’t have to endure the chill to stand in line at a food truck.

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Booda’s Brewing Co. Kitchen & Taproom, 120 E. Barnwell St., is open noon-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and noon-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information visit Boodasbrewingcompany.com, Facebook and Instagram. Phone: 828-435-2727.