Carmels & Burgerworx

Melissa Lausch and Carole Bowers

Carmels Kitchen & Bar and Burgerworx



By Lynne Harty

What is your favorite part of being a restaurant owner in Asheville?

This business in general is demanding, but Asheville especially so. The expectation of thoughtful, quality food here keeps us motivated to constantly improve. You can not rest on your game here.

What is the background of your restaurant’s name? 

Carole and I spent nearly a year brainstorming names for our firt restaurant in Vero Beach, Fl. It was right in front of us the whole time. The first three letters of our names put together. Carole + Melissa = Carmels.

What ingredient could you not live without?

Salt…sweet and savory dishes benefit from salt. The only things I can think of that do not benefit from salt are wounds and snails, unless it’s escargot.

What is your favorite dish on your menu?

Chicken and grit cakes with collards. I’m not from the south, but I’ve fallen in love with every crunchy, juicy, cheesy, smoky aspect of this dish.

What is your favorite dish from a fellow AIR restaurant’s menu?

French Broad Chocolate Lounge Sweet Potato Cheesecake.


Why did you choose Asheville to open your restaurant?

Carole and I are both from Pennsylvania and we moved to Florida in 1999. We had a good run there and needed a change. The mountains were calling us! After we had Carmels open for almost 6 years, the space next to us in the Grove arcade became available. We saw an opportunity there to develop a more casual counter service restaurant and started working on a burger concept which is now Burgerworx.  We really just developed it after the things that we liked, fresh ground beef pressed on a flat top, choice of toppings, and fresh cut french fries that are cooked just right. It is just that simple old fashion burger and fries that so many people crave.

What is your favorite chef’s tool and why?

Hands down a one quart ladle. I think I was an army cook in a previous life, so I love making big batches of soups, stocks and sauces. The big ladle makes it easy to transfer large amounts quickly and efficiently without  a big mess or heavy lifting.