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Crowds flocking to coffee shop/taproom/wine bar

Avery Ross caught a rare break on a recent afternoon at 4 o’clock as he stood behind the bar at Appalachian Coffee Co.

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“It’s been awesome. It’s been absolutely incredible,” he said of the first few weeks of business at the new coffee shop/taproom/wine bar/bottle shop at 1628 Fifth Ave. W. “A lot of people that come by live so close.”
Two of them were Patrick and Beth Donahue, who walked to the coffee shop from their house and enjoyed a beer on the deck. They had been there in the morning for coffee and decided on a sunny afternoon to check out the craft beer.
“We’ve been waiting for this day,” Patrick said. “We just can’t wait for friends and family to come visit. They’re going to be wowed.”
Like the owners, the Donahues hope one day the railroad tracks in the backyard will become the Ecusta Trail, bringing foot traffic and bicyclists hungry for a snack or thirsty for a beverage.
“We were hoping they would build that,” Beth said. “We were saying we need a coffee shop that rents bicycles and now look at this.”
No bicycles yet, but Appalachian Coffee does serve a cuppa joe and more. It’s got everything in the alcohol line except mixed drinks. Ross, the wine and beer buyer, prides himself on creative shopping for wine and beer.
“We’re doing a mix of what’s best locally made and the best from around the U.S.,” he said of the eight draft crafts. “We’ve got some familiar faces and some kind of interesting stuff. We’ve also got great lunch items and passable plates at dinner.”
Avocado toast ($5.65) and lox bagels ($7.95) are popular breakfast items. Coffee choices include light and dark roast drip and six flavors of espresso. Lunch items include the Overmountain (prosciutto, smoked cheddar cheese on 8-inch baguette), the Gribley (pepperoni, salami), the Ridge Runner (spinach tortilla with turkey, swiss, pesto vinaigrette, marinated tomatoes) ($6.50-$7.95) and salads ($8.45). Evening fare includes meat and cheese board ($12.95 for two, $19.95 for four), hummus plate ($6.95), olive plate ($5.45) and cheese and honey plate ($6.95). The shop also sells sweets and T-shirts.
Lunch wraps and dinner items are catching on, and when people realize the beverage lineup is not limited to coffee, they’re streaming in at night.
“A lot of people don’t quite know about the beer and wine in the evening,” Ross said.
Owned by David Schnitzer, Appalachian Coffee has locations on Asheville Highway and in Brevard but none has blown out the doors the way his newest venture has.
“We far surpassed our opening month of what we thought we were going to do,” Schnitzer said. “The thing that I’ve liked the most is that hours after we opened it felt like we had been here forever. It felt like a community place, it got very comfortable very quickly. It just turned out to be like home.”
A neighborhood warmth he thought might evolve over time happened almost instantly.
“We wanted to create a community place, from the staff that we hired, to the people that we saw every day. We’re doing our best to learn people’s names. It’s been fun,” Schnitzer said. “We’re just grateful. We were not as prepared as maybe we should’ve been for the amount of customers we had. In the first week we hired four or five people.”
He had to close the Asheville Highway coffee shop for a week to swing those baristas over to the Laurel Park store. It’s reopened now that they’ve gotten a handle on staffing the popular Fifth Avenue place.
“We have not given up on the Asheville Highway location,” he said. “It was a problem for sure but it was something we had to do. … We’re going to start selling through the drive-thru (on Asheville Highway) the same sandwiches and products that we are at the Laurel Park.”
The shop will launch its yoga studio next month in an open downstairs space. Customers are already renting the event space out, too, for birthday parties, wine tastings and business meetings.

Appalachian Coffee, 1628 Fifth Avenue West, is open 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sunday. The phone number is 828-595-2200.