12 Bones River Moves to the Foundation

KEEPING IT ASHEVILLE — Asheville’s iconic 12 Bones Smokehouse moved its river location to the up-and-coming Foundation development, just south of the previous 12 Bones River location. The casual restaurant serves up the same mouth-watering barbecue as before, but now in a larger location, with lots of Asheville vibe.

The wait is over and the iconic 12 Bones Smokehouse barbecue restaurant is open at its new location in the up-and-coming Foundation development in Asheville’s River Arts District.

While the 12 Bones mouth-watering menu is the same as in its previous site along the French Broad River, the new incarnation at the Foundation is bigger and better.

Bryan and Angela King, co-owners of 12 Bones Smokehouse, searched for almost three years for a new location with more indoor seating, expanded outdoor seating and more parking. After the City of Asheville announced it was exercising eminent domain on the 12 Bones Riverside Drive location for road improvement, the Kings stepped up the search.

“We wanted a place that fit the 12 Bones aesthetic and found it at the Foundation site,” Bryan said. “Once we found out that Wedge was expanding its brewery operations to the Foundation, it nailed everything else. Wedge is one of the icons in the River Arts District. It’s like we are ‘pioneers in the new frontier’ of the Foundation.”

The Foundation is a 13-acre site of unused warehouse buildings, off Old Lyman, just south of the old 12 Bones location. Over the years, the site languished with little use and an abundance of graffiti. The new development at the Foundation already includes an indoor skate park and future space for up-and-coming artists’ studios. The development’s owners, Foundations Studios, got permission from the city designating professionally painted outdoor mural art graffiti as legal on the buildings.

“The location is very Asheville,” Bryan said. “You won’t find anything quite like it in Raleigh or Charlotte. I think it’s going to be pretty neat. We commissioned new graffiti from well-known graffiti artists for our building walls. We tried to embrace the artistic element around.”

The Kings and staff  “stripped as much as we could from the old building” and repurposed it in the new location. Diners will find the old 12 Bones sign at the building entrance. Other signs used in the previous river location now decorate the interior of the new location. And, the ever-popular ‘skinny mirror’ is a must-see in the hallway leading to the restrooms.

“Everybody loved the skinny mirror,” Bryan said.

At 4,000-sq.ft., the new 12 Bones location is anything but ‘skinny.’ It more than doubles the old river location and increases the seating capacity to 225. There are two outdoor seating areas — one at the front entrance and one in the back courtyard, that will be shared with Wedge Brewing. The brewery is expanding its brewing capacity and adding an indoor tasting room and event center to open in the near future.

“It’s going to be great to have Wedge here,” King said. “We couldn’t ask for a better neighbor. Wedge is a very Asheville brewery — they do things the home-grown way.”

For now, the new 12 Bones location will keep the same hours as the previous location, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday – Friday. The ordering process is the same — people line up at the doorway to order, and are given a number, which they take to a table.  With expanded space for ordering, the flow in the new location is better for ordering and has a designated counter for take-out orders. Servers bring the food to the table, and it’s not unusual to see co-owner Bryan King bringing plates of barbecue to patrons’ tables. He’s a working owner, committed to great service.

“We’re the same folks as always,” he said. “We want to give people the same great 12 Bones barbecue they’re used to, with all the things people know and love.”

The expanded space at the Foundation will give the food staff opportunity to “play around with a few new menu additions,” but King relies on the 12 Bones tried-and-true menu, including 12 Bones’ best-selling pulled pork platter, the well-known blueberry chipotle ribs and mouth-watering sides like corn pudding — all with an expanded dessert menu.

People come from far and wide for 12 Bones legendary barbecue. It’s well-known that former President Obama is a 12 Bones fan, having dined on 12 Bones barbecue during two visits to Asheville, plus giving 12 Bones a shout-out during a jobs talk in the area. King feels the Foundation will become a must-see spot in the River Arts District, and be popular with locals and tourists, alike.

The new restaurant is fully open, even with construction going on in the Foundation buildings behind 12 Bones. The Kings are “not into big hubbub,” so no ‘official’ grand opening is planned.

The new 12 Bones River location is at 5 Foundy St., Ste. 10, in Asheville’s River Arts District. For information or take-out orders, call (828) 253-4499. The restaurant also has a south store at 3578 Sweeten Creek Road, in Arden. Visit www.12bones.com.

By Carol Viau