Business Buzz: 10/18/23

October 18, 2023


  • Mars Hill University has received a nearly $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP). The competitive grant, to be implemented over five years, supports the university’s commitment to serving a diverse student body. The program, titled Project RISE (Realizing Inclusion, Success, and Empowerment), focuses on providing equitable opportunities for student success. It includes an academic success coaching initiative in collaboration with InsideTrack, offering personalized coaching for high-potential students. Mars Hill will hire on-site academic success coaches to support students. The grant also backs faculty development in success-oriented instructional design through the Center for Engaged Teaching and Learning. Additional funding supports the expansion of the Men of Distinction program, faculty development, and resources related to academic advising best practices. Learn more.
  • The Lobster Trap, a beloved culinary institution in Asheville since its founding in 2005, has established itself as a testament to successful employee retention and customer satisfaction. In the often volatile restaurant industry, The Lobster Trap stands out for its longevity and commitment to its staff. Owner Mike McCarty, who started as an intern in 2007, exemplifies the restaurant’s ethos of promoting from within, now holding full ownership. General Manager Chloe Donley, who began as a busser, highlights the supportive environment that encourages personal and professional growth. Bar Manager David Carson, who started as a dishwasher, emphasizes the authenticity and trust that defines the restaurant’s culture. Line Cook Marco Gaspar, a 17-year veteran, appreciates the familial atmosphere and his role as a trusted leader. This positive work environment translates into exceptional customer experiences, making The Lobster Trap a thriving culinary destination. The restaurant’s focus on adaptation, customer convenience, and upcoming interior renovations underpins its enduring success in the vibrant Asheville dining scene. Learn more.


  • Daoist Traditions College of Chinese Medical Arts recently celebrated its 20th anniversary as a renowned institution dedicated to training practitioners of Classical Chinese Medicine. Established in 2003 by four women, the Asheville-based college has become a leader in offering high-quality education in Acupuncture and Chinese medicine both in North Carolina and nationally. Under the guidance of President Dr. Mary Cissy Majebe and Vice President Rachel Nowakowski, the college has grown from 10 students to approximately 120 students across its masters, doctoral, and certificate programs. The institution is known for its rigorous curriculum, community service, and leadership in Chinese medicine education. Accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine, the college operates a teaching clinic in Asheville, providing students with valuable clinical experience while offering patients quality healthcare at reduced costs. Master Jeffrey Yuen, an esteemed Daoist Priest, commends the college for its integrative healing approach and leadership in Chinese medicine education. Learn more.


  • Celebrating its first anniversary on October 19th, 2023, Tall John’s is reflecting on a successful year. Chef/Owner Trevor Payne and GM/Owner Jasper Adams established a welcoming space in Montford, focusing on classic, high-quality food and drinks. Over the past year, the restaurant expanded its offerings to serve dinner and cocktails seven nights a week, along with weekend brunch. Tall John’s also achieved recognition, winning Best New Restaurant in the Mountain Xpress readers’ poll. To mark the occasion, they introduced special food and drink offerings for the birthday weekend and beyond. The celebration includes a new fall cocktail menu featuring seasonal drinks, and customer favorites from the opening, like the popular pork schnitzel, are making a return for the birthday weekend. Learn more.
  • The AIGA Asheville Annual Design Weekend, taking place from November 3rd to 5th, revolves around the theme “The Power of Design.” Design, transcending aesthetics, is portrayed as a catalyst for change, capable of problem-solving, storytelling, and stirring emotions. AIGA Asheville President, Alyssa Phillips, and Vice-President, John Hornsby, express their enthusiasm for this second edition. The event features diverse creatives, including architects, fashion designers, printmakers, and graphic designers, aiming to celebrate design’s collective impact across various creative domains. The schedule includes a free social kick-off at Cowork at Center for Craft on November 3rd. November 4th offers a day of presentations at Mojo Coworking, featuring keynote speakers from Adobe, followed by talks, panels, and workshops. The weekend concludes on November 5th with a free PechaKucha presentation at Mojo Coworking, followed by tours of architectural and design spaces in Downtown Asheville. Speakers such as Heather Neff, Nate Huntzinger, and Timothy Brown, among others, will share insights. Individual registration is required for each event day. Learn more & get tickets!
  • The Magnetic Theatre presents Paula O’Brien’s one-woman show, “Who Does She Think She Is?” from November 3-5, 2023. A newcomer to the Asheville theatre scene, O’Brien showcases her journey from Ireland to Western North Carolina through original songs and engaging stories. Her performance, filled with music, tales, and fun, promises an enchanting experience. The show, held at 375 Depot St in the River Arts District, features O’Brien’s captivating storytelling and musical accompaniment by Steve Sensenig. The Magnetic Theatre, a nonprofit organization, has been a hub for live performance in Asheville for over a decade, focusing on developing and producing new works. For showtimes and tickets, interested attendees can get tickets here or contact Box Office & Marketing Manager Quinn Terry at or 828-239-9250 for inquiries.
  • Devil’s Foot Beverage is hosting Asheville’s first non-alcoholic drink festival, ZeroFest, at their taproom, The Mule, on November 10-11. The event features samplings from top non-alcoholic beverage brands such as Athletic Brewing, Untitled Art, Dromme N/A Spirits, and Burial Beer. Attendees can engage with brands, sample products, and learn about non-alcoholic options emphasizing fresh ingredients and sustainability. The festival includes the Black Tie Soiree on Friday with gourmet food, live music, and a VIP experience. Saturday’s Afternoon Shindig offers a laid-back atmosphere, small bites, and live music. VIP ticket holders enjoy early access, zero-proof cocktail demos, and a chance to collaborate with Devil’s Foot on a unique flavor. Tickets are available on the Devil’s Foot Beverage here
  • The public has two opportunities to attend a free workshop from Workshops for Retirement. First, at Western Carolina University’s Biltmore Park location on November 9th and at the Weaverville Community Center on November 16th, both from 6 to 7:30 pm. Covering crucial topics such as Taxes, Social Security, and Market Volatility, this workshop event addresses the concerns of individuals facing market downturns, inflation, and tax changes impacting their retirement plans. Organized to educate people lacking a comprehensive retirement strategy, the workshop, open to all, focuses on maximizing Social Security benefits and efficiently managing retirement income taxation. Professionals will provide insights on handling market volatility and inflation, offering guidance on investment harvesting and tax-efficient retirement income collection. The seminar is particularly relevant for those with investable assets of $200k or more. Attendees can expect to gain valuable knowledge to enhance their retirement strategy, potentially saving thousands of dollars in the process. Learn more.
  • Aiming to empower young entrepreneurs, an upcoming event in Asheville encourages kids between ages 7 to 17 to showcase their creativity and courage in the business world. The Children’s Business Fair, scheduled for November 25th, emphasizes the importance of fostering entrepreneurial spirit early in life. Kids will develop their own brands, products, and marketing strategies, showcasing them at the fair. Organized by Acton Academy and supported by local sponsors, the event offers up to 50 booths for participants. Products must be self-created, promoting originality. Cash prizes, ranging from $75 to $100, will be awarded for categories like Best Booth Presentation and Most Original Product. The event not only supports budding entrepreneurs but also promotes valuable life skills such as resilience and self-reliance, encouraging children to step out of their comfort zones and aim for bigger achievements. Learn more.


  • Thomas (Tom) Bartholomy, President/CEO of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving the Southern Piedmont and Western North Carolina, will retire on January 31, 2024, after leading the organization for 22 years. Under Bartholomy’s leadership, the BBB witnessed significant growth, with more than two million people checking companies through in 2022, compared to 76,000 in 2000. The organization resolved 93% of the 24,000 filed complaints in 2022. Additionally, the BBB now boasts over 6,600 Accredited Businesses, a 314% increase since 2000. Bartholomy orchestrated the successful merger of the BBB’s Charlotte and Asheville branches in 2016, leading to a substantial increase in services. He actively engaged with the community, sharing scam alerts through various media outlets, and emphasized the BBB’s mission to create an ethical marketplace, leaving behind a legacy of impactful service. Bartholomy attributes the BBB’s success to its dedicated staff and supportive Board of Directors. Learn more.