The Southern

George Hempenstall

The Southern


Photo by Lynne Harty

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

The demographics. I really like the vibe, the restaurant family in this city and how well people work together as a whole. We see so many different types of people from all over the globe visiting this city for it’s unique “vibe”, and we love being a part of what makes Asheville…. Asheville!

What is the background of your restaurant’s name?

This location used to be an old phone company called “The Southern Bell” built back in the 50’s. It then transitioned to a coffee shop called Old Europe, and then the location became “The Southern”. The name is literally built into the walls of this building. The old phone lines still run in the basement, and you can feel the history in these walls.

What ingredient could you not live without?

Honestly… I can’t answer that question. Our ingredients are so unique to our comfort food, that it would be hard to live without any of them! We change up our menu on a regular basis, but the ingredients stay pretty consistent. We love them all.

What is your favorite dish on your menu?

Our Mac and cheese is a SOLID classic on our menu. The fact that we serve it with your choice of bacon, sloppy joe, or even lobster really sets it apart from the norm. It is by far our most popular item, and has been my number one pick since purchasing the restaurant.

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

Homegrown has a delicious bacon cheeseburger!

Why did you choose Asheville to open your restaurant?

I lived in Madison County for a number of years. Asheville has always just felt like home. It’s a booming and quickly growing city and a really great place to live. I wanted to help support the local economy and so I figured why not open a restaurant in the heart of the city I love?

What is your favorite chef’s tool and why?
We LOVE our smoker! It brings out the true southern flavor in our dishes.