Highland to Return to Downtown Asheville with Second Taproom

Highland Brewing Company is returning to downtown Asheville where the brewery’s story began 25 years ago. This second taproom represents a special homecoming as Highland joins Ellington Realty Group and four-time James Beard Award-nominee Chef Meherwan Irani to revive an Asheville Art Deco treasure in the historic S&W Cafeteria building at 56 Patton Avenue. Highland’s founder, Oscar Wong, said, “Highland was part of the rebirth of downtown Asheville back in the 90s along with many others – To return downtown and be part of the rebirth of this iconic building is nothing short of amazing.”

This project is rooted in family connections. In 2017, brothers Douglas and Kenneth Ellington, bought the S&W building that their great-uncle, noted local Art Deco architect Douglas Ellington, designed and built in 1928. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places and features an ornate Art Deco façade, wide marble stairs, soapstone walls with painted tiles, and intricate architectural details that make it one of the most notable buildings in the city. Burns Aldridge, Managing Broker and Principal at Ellington Realty Group said, “This is a passion project for us. We reached out to Highland because we wanted to highlight the best of the best that Asheville has to offer as we bring this architectural treasure back to life. The food hall will feature curated, crave- worthy food and beverages that tell the story of this city.”

The food hall will feature four food stalls and a Highland bar on the main floor. The building’s mezzanine, meanwhile, will be home​ ​to an elevated Highland taproom experience with seating for guests to enjoy a pint with their food and a view of the city or down​ ​onto the activity below. In addition, street-side seating and an intimate private event space will offer even more options for guests.

The Highland experience at the S&W will include:

  • Two bars: small bar on the main floor and an expanded lineup of small batch, sour, and barrel-aged beers on the mezzanine
  • Street-side and indoor mezzanine seating
  • An intimate private event space off the mezzanine with a Roaring 20s vibe and room for 40 seated guests

“I’ve never had an interest in opening a second taproom,” said second generation Family-Owner and President, Leah Wong Ashburn. “But this confluence was powerful. We are engaged in revitalizing a piece of Asheville’s history and working with an incredibly talented group of Asheville entrepreneurs who all believe in authenticity, family, and having fun with this project.”

Chef Meherwan Irani said, “The first beer I had in Asheville was Highland’s Gaelic Ale. Ever since, when I think of Asheville beer I think of Highland. It’s only fitting that the S&W Market and Highland Brewing Company, two landmarks of Asheville, come together in a perfect pairing to revitalize an important part of our downtown’s history.”

“Bold decisions have defined Highland since my father started Asheville’s first craft brewery in the basement of Barley’s in 1994. We have continued to think boldly in recent years with our beer and brand. Joining the S&W stays true to that legacy and feels right for us as a company and a community,” said Ashburn. “We’re returning to where we started, but with new eyes, new beers, and a unique opportunity to shape the next chapter of Highland and our hometown.”

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