Asheville’s top stories of 2022

From ghost kitchens and road diets to the iconic FART license plate that appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live.


What a year it’s been, Asheville.

Photo by @avlblakestakes

Table of Contents

Before we enter 2023, we’re taking a beat to reflect on the stories that we can’t stop talking about.

From Asheville’s numerous appearances on national television to the recent wave of Indigenous street art, each of these stories represent a unique slice of our talented, creative, and spirited city. Travel back with us to 2022 for a month-by-month breakdown of Asheville’s most impactful stories.

And while we’re here, we want to give a special thanks to you, our readers and neighbors, for being with us every step of the way. There wouldn’t be an AVLtoday without you.

In the words of Shanti: “Houston, we don’t want no problems.” | Photo via @foodordeath_


Ashleigh Shanti, the former chef de cuisine of award-winning restaurant Benne on Eagle, made major waves in the food scene as a contestant on Top Chef: Houston. She made it to the top six before getting eliminated and has since announced plans to open Good Hot Fish, a casual fish house in Asheville.



Did you know that there’s a mini donkey haven within driving distance of Asheville? We didn’t, either, but now we’ll never stop dreaming about the Etowah gem Our Tiny Farm that’s chock-full of enormously adorable, funny + affectionate miniature critters.


Photo courtesy of Karly Sindy

Photo courtesy of Karly Sindy


We’ll also never forget about that time Asheville resident Karly Sindy appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” for her FART (that’s Friends of Asheville Recreational Trails) license plate. What’s even cooler: the legal debate over the evocative license later blossomed into a new social club, which had its inaugural FART Fest in April.


Photo by AVLtoday


West Asheville saw a fresh breath of creativity with the debut of Story Parlor at the vacant, nearly 100 year-old building on 227 Haywood Rd. Since its launch, the cooperative arts space has made good on its promise to provide an affordable, community-driven space for locals share and sharpen their creativity. Check out upcoming events.


The Merrimon Avenue road diet first hit our dashboard in May, and since construction wrapped in November, driving around North Asheville has never been the same. When we polled y’all about the project, 46.3% answered “I’m stoked about the safety + multi-modal transit measures” and 30.2% said “The project is too messy for it to be worthwhile.” How do you feel about it now? Let us know.


A 1940s-era look at what would become Fontana Lake. I Photo via Buncombe County Special Collections


We dove into the history of Fontana Lake and the small town of Judson that suddenly found its residents displaced and its infrastructure underwater. We also cast our eyes to WNC’s entrepreneurial future when Asheville was ranked as the No. 7 fastest-growing tech hub in nation.


We got a new outdoor music venue: The Outpost. The three-acre, riverside property kicked off the festivities with a concert from The Budos Band and (after its initial partnership with The Grey Eagle dissolved) now has a permit in the works for the next phase of its growth, including a permanent outdoor stage, more parking, and an expanded bar.


Green Man Brewery’s ghost kitchen is located in the former French Broad Chocolate space at 21 Buxton Ave. I Photo by AVLtoday


In August, Green Man Brewery announced the grand opening of its brand new ghost kitchen. It sounded eerie to us, so we went behind-the-scenes and about how this unique business model helps feed hoards of hungry people on the South Slope via a QR code system on your mobile device. If you haven’t tried the food yet, we highly recommend the Ashevilly Cheesesteak.


The movement to ban single-use plastic bags in Asheville reached a critical mass — and in October, Asheville City Council took the first steps in plastic reduction measures, voting to prohibit plastic bags for curbside litter collection.

Jared Wheatley, founder of the Indigenous Walls Project

Jared Wheatley, founder of the Indigenous Walls Project.

Photo by @eatasheville


Back in April, street artist Jared Wheatley painted the Cherokee Syllabary on a vacant wall near Coxe Ave., marking the beginning of the Indigenous Walls Project. Since then, the amount of Indigenous street art has flourished and culminated at October’s inaugural Intertribal Graffiti Jam. Learn more about the movement.


In addition to the general election, which saw the passage of two new bonds and another term for Mayor Esther Manheimer, our community was also engaged with a different, furrier sort of campaign: the Safe Passage Coalition. This community partnership, which is comprised of 20 local, state, federal, and Tribal land managers, is paving a way to make wildlife crossings safer for black bears. Here’s how to get involved.


McCormick Field.

Photo by AVLtoday


Will they stay or will they go? The fate of the Asheville Tourists remains unclear as the team seeks $30 million worth of upgrades for McCormick Field. We asked how you felt about the possibility of the team leaving Asheville, and 49.7% said “I’d be really bummed, I’m a huge fan!” while 21.2% answered “$30 million is a lot, maybe they should leave.”

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