Tuesday, June 17, 2008

S&W Cafeteria


The renovated S&W Cafeteria building on Patton Avenue, near Pritchard Park downtown, now houses the newly opened upscale restaurant S&W Steak & Wine and the Corner House, a coffee shop and casual restaurant.

That gives the public a chance once again to eat and drink among the 1929 building’s period touches, including porcelain tiles on the walls, terrazzo floors, sculpted plaster ceilings and steps made of travertine marble.

The cafeteria closed in 1974, a casualty of the movement of much of the city’s retail activity to Asheville Mall. The building saw various uses over the years but had been closed for some time before developer Steve Moberg decided to take the plunge and put it back in use.

Moberg, whose other projects include the Lexington Station condominium and retail complex on South Lexington Avenue downtown, bought the building last year. He is building six residential condos on the building’s third floor and adding a level and a half on the roof to house four more.

Those units are scheduled to be completed later this year. All but two of the condos are spoken for, Moberg said.

The S&W was designed by architect Douglas Ellington, also responsible for iconic structures including City Hall and First Baptist Church. It was part of a small chain of cafeterias in the South started in Charlotte by two men who served as mess sergeants together in World War I.

“It’s one of art deco’s crown jewels in Asheville and one of Douglas Ellington’s finest buildings that he designed in town,” said Jim Coman, president of the Preservation Society of Asheville & Buncombe County.

“It’s the highest pinnacle of art deco. It’s as good as it gets,” said Coman, a Buncombe County zoning official who helped produce a comprehensive inventory of historic buildings in the county.

The S&W was completed in 1929 and was a community hub for much of the middle of the 20th century.

“It was a great place to go and eat,” said Che Spurlin, who lived in Asheville in the ’50s and is now a resident of northern Buncombe County. “You would always see somebody you knew.”
-- Asheville Citizen-Times

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