Old Europe Pastries: Asheville’s Oldest Coffee Shop

October marks the 22nd year anniversary of Old Europe Pastries, Asheville’s oldest coffee shop.

The owner, Melinda Vetro, is a native of Hungary, and received her pastry training there before immigrating to the U.S. with her husband, Z. They traveled around the country conclusively settling in Asheville. Here they started their own business in the Woodfin area, making pastries inspired by their European roots.

After struggling to find enough customers for their fledging business they decided to move to downtown Asheville, and found a location in the Flat Iron Building on Battery Park. The business stayed there 12 years, before expanding to a restaurant and nightclub on the corner of Lexington and Walnut. During the financial crisis the Vetros lost everything: their business, the building, their home, and their marriage. Melinda also faced breast cancer and ultimately had to undergo a double mastectomy. All this while raising a young son.

But she persevered. Her husband had handled the business side of things, but Melinda knew her pastries, and that was the magic that had carried them through the years.

On Friday, the 13th in August of 2010, Old Europe Pastries opened once again. Now at 13 Broadway St. in downtown Asheville, Melinda was behind the counter, stronger than ever after her many trials. She worked nonstop to get the new shop going, and even her son, who was by then in high school, worked hours as the shop as well, becoming a coffee expert at a young age while helping his mom out.

After so many years Old Europe has ingrained itself into the fabric of Asheville. Locals and visitors alike enjoy the specialty pastries and locally roasted coffee. Some of the unique pastries offered at Old Europe are: the French Creamy – a vanilla custard with a layer of whipped cream between sheets of pastry; the Black Diamond – layered chocolate cake with dark chocolate cream, covered in chocolate (gluten free); the Lemon Bavarian – sponge cake layered with lemon custard and topped with raspberry glaze; and the Hazelnut Napoleon – layers of white sponge cake, whipped chocolate hazelnut mouse and puff pastry.

Other favorites include the Espresso Godiva Cheesecake (gluten free), Tiramisu, Eclairs, Key Lime Pie, and Carrot Cake. The shop opens at 7 a.m. daily, with breakfast items including savory and fruit croissants, ham and cheese croissants, cruffins and quiches. They are also open late night – 11 p.m. during the week, and midnight on the weekend; and now also offer a selection of wine and champagne.

The offerings change daily, and there are many seasonal varieties as well, including Pumpkin Spice Eclairs and Pumpkin Cheesecake for Fall. The shop also does catering for any special occasions – a tray of French Creamy for a party, a Tiramisu for a birthday, a selection of pastries for an office party, or a specialty cake for a wedding. Any special orders can be made by calling 828-772-8404. Or stop in! With a friendly atmosphere, great coffee drinks and delicious pastries, it’s the perfect place to visit on a cool fall day.

About Shelby Harrell
Shelby Harrell is the editor of the Biltmore Beacon, editor of The Guide arts and entertainment publication and is a staff writer for Mountaineer Publishing. Originally from Asheville, she has worked in journalism for seven years and currently lives in Clyde, NC.