Little Jumbo

Chall Gray

Little Jumbo


Photo by Lynne Harty

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

Being an operator in this industry requires constantly solving a unique array of problems, which is ceaselessly exciting and fun. 

What is the background of your restaurant’s name?

The original Little Jumbo was in NYC, and operated in the 1880’s in the Bowery. It was run by a famous bartender of the age, Harry Johnson, who wrote a book on bar operation. His ethos was that first and foremost the customer should always get great service, that drinks should come out quickly and be fairly priced—it spoke very directly to what my partners and I wanted to create in our location on Broadway, so we felt the name would be a fitting homage. That and it also seemed like a strange enough name to stick in the minds of patrons. 

What ingredient could you not live without?

Aperol, a lightly bitter, citrusy Italian aperitivo.

What is your favorite dish on your menu?

We’re a comfortable, casual neighborhood bar, that happens to have great cocktails, so food isn’t our main focus. That said, we do have a small food menu, that is carefully chosen and high quality. Our house-made Smoked Trout Dip is one of my go-to’s.

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

The Leg & Thigh plate at Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack is an essential part of my life.

Why did you choose Asheville to open your restaurant?

I love this city, and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

What is your favorite chef’s tool and why?

As a barman, I don’t cook much, and thus don’t have many chef’s tools. I do have pretty much every type of bar tool known to man, and my most recent purchase was a high-end Champagne Saber, so that’s probably the shiniest (literally and figuratively) tool in the box at the moment.