The Underground Cafe

Jay Medford




Photo by Lynne Harty

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

I love being a part of the Asheville restaurant scene. As a native of Asheville it’s pretty rad to be here doing what I do. Its crazy competitive and hard to make it, but the camaraderie of being a part of this scene is unlike anywhere I have been. 

What is the background of your restaurant’s name?

Funny enough it started as a joke name (well the doughnut side of it) and the other part well it’s literally underground and I took over “The Jackson Underground Cafe” and dropped the Jackson part. As far as DoughP (dope) Doughnuts go, when i was the chef of my last restaurant I made doughnuts once for dessert and everyone told me to open a doughnut shop. I asked “what the heck would I call it” and DoughP Doughnuts was invented then and there 

What ingredient could you not live without?

Butter.. Or maybe eggs and flour..

What is your favorite dish on your menu?

That is a hard one for me, I love sandwiches. At the cafe I tend to munch on the burgers a lot, or just a classic grilled cheese. I love playing around with sandwiches and seeing what may or may not work

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

Wow, this is a loaded question, I might plead the 5th here. Also I love so many of the AIR members and dishes that I don’t have a favorite. I have tons of them ( I mean I do love food) and love when the chefs in town do their thing 

Why did you choose Asheville to open your restaurant?

Well, Asheville is my hometown, my wife and I came back to Asheville from NYC to start a family, and when I walked away from cooking the cafe fell in my lap so I picked my knives and brain back up and transitioned from a classically trained chef to a chef who plays short order cook 🙂 and I love it (even tho i do miss the other parts as well)

What is your favorite chef’s tool and why?

My brain, or my insanity? A trusty chefs knife never hurts, but really just being able to use my creativity freely. (the Doughnut Fryer comes in pretty handy though)