Small Business of the Month: Market Place Restaurant and Lounge

March 21, 2018

A community is what it eats.

Market Place Restaurant and Lounge takes this idea and runs with it, creating mindful cuisine which transforms and nourishes our whole community. Since 1979, the restaurant’s sustainable and local-oriented business model has propelled Asheville’s economy, one forkful at a time.

With the restaurant’s impactful business strategy in mind, as well as their immense involvement and support with the Chamber, we have selected them as our Small Business of the Month.

“We’ve been serving sustainable, locally sourced food from the beginning.  This is the heart and soul of Asheville, and we are proud to be at the forefront of the restaurant community,” says Owner and Chef William Dissen.

Dissen, who took over the restaurant from Chef Mark Rosenstein in 2009, concocts dishes steeped in Appalachian tradition while supporting the hardy efforts of local farms. All ingredients are sourced from within 100 miles of Asheville, and many of the featured cheeses, beers, dairy, and other goods are produced right in town. This philosophy has led to the restaurant being recognized as a national leader in the Good Food movement, a campaign which connects food producers and consumers in the same geographic region.

“Good Food equals good business. We love to be able to support our community and local artisans–and we really appreciate the support we get back. We also strive to operate in ways that provide reduced impact on the environment and assist Asheville’s development.”

Located in the heart of downtown, the two-story building is made with locally sourced hardwoods, recycled flooring and concrete, LED lighting, and thermal solar power. The kitchen is powered by wood-fire and imparts a unique flavor on its ingredients. Market Place loves to highlight local musicians, featuring live music six days a week. They even go so far as to host wild food excursions, where diners learn to harvest wild plants and mushrooms and have their findings cooked into gourmet dishes.

These unique practices and involvement certainly play a role in Market Place’s success, but Dissen cannot underestimate the importance of sound business strategy.

“Create systems and operational guides. Take the time to do the tedious paperwork and make the spreadsheets that help create necessary audits.  Empower your team and create a corporate culture that they can be proud of. People will follow the leader, but only if they believe in them,” he recommends.

With this approach, Dissen predicts at least 40 more years of great food and hospitality at Market Place. He also hopes to create an international union of chefs for the United Nations Global Food Policy and devise his own cookbook. All in a day’s work.