Asheville’s Women-Owned Food Businesses Support Each Other

The Wellness District is a place where customer service means taking care of the customer from the inside. The North Asheville neighborhood is full of businesses promoting healthy lifestyles, all within walking distance of each other.

Pulp + Sprout, a vegan juice bar and cafe is one of the tenants helping to build the neighborhood’s reputation. Others include Liberty House Coffee and Café, Asheville Yoga Center, Asheville Salt Cave, Massage Still Point Wellness Float, and Massage Spa.

“We have a sort of informal group called the Wellness District,” said Heather Cassidy, owner of Pulp + Sprout with her husband, Jim. “There are a lot of wellness-focused businesses here, and we definitely get together, collaborate, and refer to each other. … It makes a very beautiful region. People can literally walk from place to place and touch all these different aspects.

Pulp + Sprout takes care of the guests in the area of ​​food and drink. The company specializes in cold-pressed juices, smoothies and dishes made with fresh, organic ingredients.

“It’s about the wellness aspect. We wanted to create a welcoming, inviting (and) wholesome space, and all the ingredients,” Cassidy said. “Everything we use is organic, as much as possible – pure, really clean ingredients.”

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The restaurant attracts those who lead completely vegan eating habits and those who are simply looking for healthier options, she said.

“We hope to bring this wellness space to as many people as possible,” Cassidy said.

Nearly seven years ago, Pulp + Sprout — then named Elements Real Food — opened its storefront, then owned by Jenni and Zack Bier.

The Cassidys visited the café regularly, so when the opportunity to buy it presented itself, they were ready to invest. The restaurateurs are also partners with All Day Darling and Eldr, which recently opened in Asheville.

Over the past three years, the Cassidys have evolved the business model and increased its presence in the community. Part of this rebranding effort was to update the interior decor and adopt a name to reflect the herbal products inside.

As well as offering a menu of signature drinks and dishes filled with fresh, local ingredients, the cafe’s shelves and coolers are stocked with local treats. The Cassidys slowly added features such as the to-go cooler, milk alternatives from local partners, and cold-pressed juice subscriptions.

Scenes from Pulp & Sprout, a vegan juice bar and cafe in West Asheville.

Local and women-owned and operated businesses are intentionally represented in the retail area, including Rosarina Plant Shop and Dare Vegan Cheese.

“I feel really supported as a female business owner in Asheville, both from my male counterparts and from my strong female entrepreneurs around me,” said Gwendolyn Hageman, owner of the vegan-based artisanal cheese business. of plants. “It’s easy to make connections and build them with other women business owners because we see that in each other. »

Dare sells several staples and limited-edition products in the coffee market space, including pepper jack, balsamic fig, and Appalachian apricot wedges.

“They’re so cheese-like you won’t be able to tell the difference,” Hageman said.

“It’s so good. We can’t keep it on the shelf,” Cassidy said.

Rosarina is a mobile plant shop, owned by Erika Mayer, which operates out of a vintage school bus. Rosarina’s plants are part of the decor of Pulp + Spout and customers can buy them at the cafe. They’re available at a few other locations around town — All Day Darling, Citizen Vinyl, and Farewell.

“She comes in, takes care of the plants, beautifies our space with them, but at the same time, it’s her plant store, so they buy plants directly from her,” Cassidy said.

Pulp + Spout also caters to the canine community and sells vegan dog bones from Botanical Bones.

Pulp + Sprout is open mornings and afternoons and serves breakfast, lunch, and snacks daily. The three main components are cold-pressed juices, foods, and smoothies.

The cold-pressed juices are made in-house each morning using an industrial cold press, Cassidy said. Typically, customers request juices with electrolytes post-workout or to treat health issues, such as inflammation, or for general well-being.

Two popular blends are Go Forth Green – made with kale, pear, cucumber, lemon and ginger juice – and Breathe – made with carrots, orange, apple, lemon and turmeric.

Juice subscriptions of six packs of juice bottles have been popular and are available for local delivery each week.

Meals include sandwiches and salads.

Avo Toasty is a sesame wheat bread topped with mashed avocado, soy-free veganaise, cashew ricotta, fresh herbs, roots and greens and served with a side salad.

Cassidy also recommends Chickpea Caesar.

“It’s like a fake chicken salad made with chickpeas. You can make it in a salad or in a sandwich. It’s a good hearty, hearty meal,” she said.

The selection of baked goods rotates with vegan cheesecakes, mousse pies, cookies, muffins, truffles and other homemade desserts.

Orange thyme cheesecake on an almond graham cracker crust was a recent dish of the day. Cheesecakes can be custom made and specially ordered.

Asheville has a strong vegan community and an industry that supports the demand for plant-based alternatives, Cassidy said.

Scenes from Pulp & Sprout, a vegan juice bar and cafe in West Asheville.

“The more the better, as far as the vegan community is concerned. Almost every restaurant has at least some vegan options, and then there are vegan restaurants,” Cassidy said. “A rising tide lifts all boats, so it’s a great community to be a part of.”

The number of customers looking for plant-based options is on an upward trend, Hageman said. Plant-based dining and retail products that work together strengthen the industry.

“If anything, if it’s not vegan, I think health is more and more part of our food scene like before it was French cuisine and very unhealthy food,” said Hageman. “Now, at least as a society and the younger generation is rushing to take care of their bodies and the environment and make healthier choices in general. This is the direction we will continue to move.”

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