The Collaboratory

Polo Alonso

Executive Chef



Photo by Lynne Harty

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

Being a part of the amazing culinary and brewing landscape that is Asheville. It’s humbling and inspiring. We are thrilled to be among some of the top chefs and brewers in the country, and look forward to working with them at the Collaboratory.

What is the background of your restaurant’s name?

The Collaboratory is more than a brewery and tasting room. It is a place for collaboration, exploration and experimentation around beer and culture. It’s a place for brewers to partner and push the boundaries of beer. A place for people to gather and savor one of a kind brews available nowhere else. We also invite and host guest collaborations by bringing in chefs, musicians, and artists to jam and create in our space.

What ingredient could you not live without?

Whether its candied, spiced or simply crispy, bacon can go on nearly everything.

What is your favorite dish on your menu?

The dish I am most proud of on the menu is Jai Alai Chicken. We braise a chicken thigh using Jai Alai IPAfrom Cigar City. We then toss some bacon, fennel and onions in pasta with some mushrooms and fresh greens to give it a savory, umami flavor.

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

I cant even choose one particular restaurant, as there are SO many good ones, let alone one dish. Some of my favorite spots are Blue Dream Curry House, Buxton Hall, Gan Shan, Mojo, Rosettas and Zambra, but there’s no wrong answer when you are eating out in Asheville! 

Why did you choose Asheville to open your restaurant?

We chose Asheville because of its endless options for Collaborations with chefs, brewers, artists and musicians. We look forward to connecting with the community and coming together to create amazing and unique collaborations! And there’s no better testing ground for food and beer than Asheville. The foodies and beer drinkers here are incredibly educated and we want to test new, innovative flavors amongst the most discerning palettes possible.

What is your favorite chef’s tool and why?

Here at the Collaboratory we love our smoker. Between our smoked tomato jam, our pulled pork, and a million other possibilities – the ability to smoke in-house opens the door for our chefs to create incredible depth of flavor. Plus, drinking beer and smoking meat just makes sense.