Old Europe

Melinda Vetro



Photo by Lynne Harty

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

The best part about being an owner of a restaurant in Asheville is the sense of community among all of the other small business owners.  We are a small shop and many of the surrounding business owners, even of business’ that have closed, come in and treat themselves to a nice cup of coffee and a delicious pastry.  It’s nice to see the community develop through the customers that come in and form a relationship with the staff.  It’s a home away from home for a lot of people in the Downtown area.

What is the background of your restaurant’s name?

The name came from the fact that at the time when we opened, 25 years ago this year, there was nothing around that had the same feel or product that we were selling.  So it was just a way of branding what we were about as far as desserts, pastries, and the feel you would encounter when you came into our shop.

What ingredient could you not live without?

Butter, could not live without butter.  It is an integral building block of most the things that we make.  Also, butter is better.  And chocolate of course.

What is your favorite dish on your menu?

I love the Coconut Cream Cake.  Its light and rich all at the same time and has that little extra something that just makes it irresistible.

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

I love the tacos from Taco Temple.  Its right by my house and they are always super friendly, helpful, and delicious.

Why did you choose Asheville to open your restaurant?

I had just moved to the United States from Hungary and was living in Minnesota with her late husband.  They were just looking for a place to move to and start a life and happened to settle on Asheville and then went on to open the original location of Old Europe in the Grove Arcade.  Since then the community has been so good to us that we just keep on going, and like I said, we will be celebrating our 25 year anniversary this year!

What is your favorite chef’s tool and why?

My favorite tool in the kitchen is a large metal spatula.  It is a irreplaceable extension of my hand and helps me to efficiently complete all the tasks that I need to throughout my baking days.