Tupelo Honey Café’s South Location is Open!
by Kathryn Long

When I got the call from Steve Frabitore, owner of Tupelo Honey Café, this past August, he asked me if I’d heard of his restaurant. I told him if I had not I would have been hiding under a rock. Tupelo Honey Café has become an icon of the restaurant scene in Asheville.

But several years had passed since I had designed a restaurant. Many of you will remember 23 Page, and the first incarnation of The New French Bar, which won a CCASID Design Excellence Award for Hospitality Design in 1997.

So I suggested we talk with Patti Glazer of Glazer Architecture about a team effort. Next thing I knew, Patti was on a conference call with Steve and me.

To make a long story short, Patti and I were soon meeting with Steve, his managing partner Andy Settler, his executive chef Brian Sonoskus and Jennifer Frabitore.

Early in the design process it became clear that the project would benefit from some lighting consultation. Doug Stratton, the new and cool lighting designer from L.A., contributed greatly to the overall lighting plan. He is also responsible for those wonderful fans, and had the punched tin lampshades custom made. votivdesign.com.

Here is a visual record of the design:

before photo
September 2009: “Before” Photo of the former Asian Restaurant. Steve Frabitore strolls through the newly leased space

Ambiance’s very own Wayne Caldwell has written another book! Published by Random House, Requiem by Fire is sequel to the critically acclaimed Cataloochee.

book cover

What critics and other writers are saying:
“Walking on a tightrope between humor and heartbreak, Requiem by Fire is an uncompromising story of a doomed community, a rewarding journey into the high mountains.”
—John Ehle, author of 'The Winter People'

Caldwell returns to Cataloochee with . . . a remarkable sequel that chronicles the tough choice facing the . . . community: Accept a government buyout for their land and move, or agree to a lifetime lease with restrictions that made survival almost impossible. . . . Caldwell writes with reverence and humor about these resilient, kindhearted souls . . . .
—Gina Webb, for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Read more about the book, or order a copy from Wayne's website waynecaldwell.com.


before photo 2
September 2009: “Before” Photo of the former Asian Restaurant

The design problem: transform a restaurant with a totally Asian interior to one with an inviting Southern atmosphere.

design team photo
An on-site meeting with Steve Frabitore, Chris Rogers (of Glazer Architecture), Patti, and Kathryn. Note the sample board and swatches in the background.

paint glazing on walls
Of course, the perfect paint color and glazing technicians were essential in creating a rich background. Credit to Sharon Tompkins and her team for the walls, and to Lyna Farkas for painting the distressed wood.

making masaic backsplash
Sharon Tompkins works on the mosaic backsplash. Be sure to check it out when you’re sitting at the bar!

previous patio furniture
The uncomfortable patio furniture was sold!

Sunflower inspiration
Here is one of the major inspirations for the interior: Sunflowers . . . .



design team photo 2
Another on-site meeting with Drew Wells (the contractor), Chris Rogers, Kathryn, and Patti to work out the details of installing the old windows.

bad wallpaper
Kathryn points out issues with the wallpaper in the entry: “It has to go!”

hanging new art
What about the artwork? Here Ted Oliver of Oliver’s Southern Folk Art Gallery and his wife hang pieces from their gallery. Credit to Elizabeth Sims for the perfect idea of using Southern Folk Art exclusively in the interior design of the restaurant.

chair swatches
After looking many directions for the perfect wicker chairs for the patio, we had a sample chair shipped to confirm its quality and comfort. Here are choices for the fabric seat cushions.

Elizabeth Sims making selections
Elizabeth Sims, Marketing Director for Tupelo Honey Café, and I made final selections of screen doors and old windows at Preservation Hall, 115 N. Main St., Weaverville. Patti had spent an entire Saturday scouting out the old architectural elements that were recycled in the restaurant.

And here are a couple of photos of the finished product:
All photos below by Peak Definition

Completed restaurant 1

Completed restaurant 2


Steve Frabitore and Mayor Terry Bellamy cut the ribbon while Andy Settler and friends look on. 

Musicians, the Sons of Ralph: Marty and Don Lewis, add to the flavor of the evening.

And what about the food? Yum!

Mackensey Lunsford, a well-known local writer, enjoys the bar with Eric Seeger, editor of WNC Magazine.

Patti with other WNC Magazine writers.

Elizabeth Sims (right) enjoys the evening with friends. Hey, and there is Ambiance Interiors' client Mary Jaeger-Gale!

Patti Glazer, AIA, glazerarchitecture.com and Kathryn Long, ASID: ambianceasheville.com What a great team!

All photos of party by Peak Definition




Tupelo Honey South is now open!

The food is the same fabulous menu. The South location does accept reservations, and they can seat large groups.

Call 505-7676 for reservations, or you can make them online at tupelohoneycafe.com.