July 2024

 

Root & Bone/The Crossroads

By Cindy Ruzak

 

 

If you have lived in Western North Carolina for any length of time, it is likely you have heard the name Turchin in some connection or another. And now, another means by which to do that has opened for all of us to enjoy, Root & Bone/The Crossroads.

 

The Root & Bone restaurant, housed in The Crossroads complex located on Brevard Road/Hwy 64 at the crossing of the Ecusta Trail in Horseshoe, opened to the public on June 14. The ambiance, extraordinary quality of food and beverage selections, and engaging staff guarantees this endeavor will quickly become a superlative culinary destination. 

 

At a pre-opening event for the press, family, friends, contractors and employees of other Turchin enterprises, the joy of the dining experience was palpable. From an enthusiastic greeting at the door by Dave and Lauren and general manager Andrew, to attentive serving at the bar by Logan and others on patio dining areas, and interesting conversations with chefs Jeff and Janine, and owners Susan and John, a true desire to engage was manifested. This “all-in” engagement style genuinely creates a wonderful sense of welcoming inclusion. The stories each person relayed about their individual paths to involvement in the restaurant provided a tribute to how success in any endeavor is driven by the relationships to others. 

 

 

Two James Beard Award-nominated chefs, partners Jeffrey McInnis and Janine Booth, offer their special blend of “elevated southern comfort food.” They met owner John Turchin when Janine, who hails from Australia, was opening a restaurant in Miami Beach and came before the local architectural design review board on which he served. John helped them get through the approval process by suggesting an alternate window treatment of a full glass garage door style, thus establishing beginnings of a collaborative relationship. So, when John saw the vacant building in Horseshoe, he immediately contacted Jeff and Janine to see what they thought about opening a restaurant there together. John and Susan’s previous connection to the hospitality industry has included ownership of three nightclub properties in Florida, and they continue to split their time between the coast and the mountains.

Connections to the WNC community, and to the arts in general, abound with so many members of this extended family business. Jeff has family in Marion and his parents have been involved with Appalachian State and the creation of the Turchin Center; so he and wife Janine are looking forward to relocating with their three children to North Carolina from Florida.  Susan Turchin is a visual artist, with a guitar on display at the front entrance to the restaurant being one of her creations. John and Susan’s son Jordan, who operates the family’s enterprise at nearby Horseshoe Farms, acted over seven years in several Off-Broadway New York theater productions. Daughter Ashley, while not involved with The Crossroads, sells artwork. And John’s interests are multi-generational.

 

 

As the website proclaims, The Turchin Center for the visual arts strategic location on King Street in the heart of downtown Boone is within the physical boundaries of Appalachian State University, thus placing it at the “crossroads” between campus and community, creating a multitude of opportunities for meaningful campus and community partnerships. Named for benefactors Robert and Lillan Turchin, the center opened in 2003 under the belief that access and interaction with arts programming is an important part of a great university education, and that sharing these opportunities with residents and visitors is important to the cultural, economic and healthful life of the community. In keeping with that belief, to provide increased accessibility for the App State community, the center is free of charge and open to the public.

 

As an extension of that artistic community connectivity, John is planning to have several works of visual art adorning the outdoor space at the Root & Bone/The Crossroads for all Ecusta Trail riders to enjoy as they pass by.

 

That connectivity was also expressed among the other attendees at the pre-opening event. As an example, from just one table, a toilet salesman, who is also a diehard Chicago Cubs fan (I grew up in Chicago, but connected as a White Sox fan) was sitting with his friend, the contractor who supplied all the pipes for Horseshoe Farms, and who offered information about a worldwide organization of organic farmers.

 

Even the name of the restaurant has its own connections. The Crossroads name stems from famed Blues guitarist Robert Johnson of the 1930s. As legend has it, Johnson sold his soul to the devil at a crossroads in his quest for fame. He died at 27, much like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison – aka  “Rock’s 27 Club” –  but his song “Cross Road Blues” achieved fame finally in 1969 when recorded by the British band Cream. The bar at Root & Bone/The Crossroads features historic Rock photographs from the 1970s and 1980s.

 

 

And then there is the food, where there are plenty of unique offerings with which to make a connection. I personally enjoyed the Beets Tartare, the Sweet Tea Brined Chicken, the Falafel Croquettes, and the Braised Brisket Meatloaf.

 

Jeff started his culinary career as a dishwasher when one day a chef at the restaurant did not show up for work, so he was promoted to the fish cutting station.  Janine first worked at a Sicilian restaurant and attended culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in New York. And now this is their fourth Root & Bone restaurant opening, after the first in New York City in 2013. It offers “soul nurturing, conscientiously sourced, farm-fresh ingredients” created by “craftsman’s ethic coupled with artistic culinary thought” in
tribute to the timeless recipes and traditions of rural America, and the warm embrace of its hospitality.

 

Restaurant manager Zeke confirmed that future plans include a speakeasy just a few steps down from the bar area that will house small private events, and a market café. While the café will have many equally interesting items for bicyclists and those driving by to choose from for something on the go, the primary focus of the location appears to be providing a dining experience to enjoy at leisure. 

With all this connectivity, it seems completely appropriate that this enterprise be located directly adjacent to the Ecusta Trail; after all, trails are all about connections between towns and between people interacting with each other.

 

root & bone (rootnbone.com)

www.TheCrossroadsNC.com

Turchin Center for the Visual Arts | Appalachian State University (appstate.edu)

 

Henderson County Rail-Trail

Advisory Committee

 

By Cindy Ruzak

 

Henderson County RTAC meeting June 12, 2024

 

In response to RTAC Chair Chris Burns' call for public comment, Clifford Meek, who is affiliated with the model train group French Broad River “Npire,” recommended that some sort of barrier to cars be included in plans for the trail. He has noticed several times over the past 6 months that cars have been parked on the section near Spring Street, and cautioned that once the trail opens, trail users will likely park on adjacent streets that are already narrow. Henderson County Business and Community Development Director Chris Todd and Hendersonville City Manager John Connet responded that they will get together with law enforcement to address potential issues.

 

RTAC member-at-large Ken Shelton inquired if the rails being removed can be repurposed for trail amenities. Todd responded that they are being saved.

 

Mark Tooley, president of Friends of Ecusta Trail (FOET), thanked Janna Bianculli, Henderson County Senior Planner, for the excellent trail partners business meeting. He also reported that FOET is working on a framework for offering amenity naming opportunities that were promised to “Making the Dream Real” donors. In addition, FOET is working on a suggested trail etiquette list. Both of these will be submitted to RTAC at a later date.

 

Brevard’s Mayor Maureen Copelof confirmed expectations that the 30% design for the Transylvania County section of the trail will be completed by the end of June. She also announced that there will be a joint meeting on June 26 of the Brevard Ecusta Trail Advisory Board (ETAB), Brevard City Council, and Brevard Parks and Trails Committee.

 

Todd announced there has been a lot of talk about making the official trailhead for the Ecusta Trail to be located at the Visitors Center; and that it is really a challenge to have it anywhere else but there. The facilities are already in place and being improved, and the advantage is that having the trailhead there provides more access to Main Street. He asked RTAC to officially authorize him to approach the Henderson County Tourism Development Authority about this idea since they own the land on which the Visitors Center is located. The motion was approved.

 

Tooley asked the committee to recommend adopting the branding strategy for the Ecusta Trail that was led by FOET and collaboratively refined by the Operations Committee over the past year.

 

Burns suggested tabling formal consideration and voting of that branding strategy until the next meeting so that the RTAC members have time to review the branding strategy and amenities, along with discussing it with other communities to be able to make a uniform decision.

 

Hunter Marks from Watermark Landscape Architect then presented a possible design for trail amenities.

 

 

Marks showed several illustrations from the 30% design phase of how amenities such as rest stations, location markers, and interpretive signs might look with designs respecting the history of the Southern Railway. Wooden location markers would mimic whistle posts and location markers on them made from rustic looking Corten Steel. Design amenities would also include drinking fountains, parking areas, bike and repair racks, buffer areas of landscaping for rest and shade. Things such as trash cans could be agreed upon between the entities.

 

 

In response to a question on design timing from Shelton, Burns emphasized some urgency toward making a decision quickly. Since construction of the first 6 miles should be completed by the end of the year, the consensus was prioritization of some amenities would be beneficial, with some amenities not being ready when the first section of the trail opens.

 

Tooley requested that this amenity design presentation be given to the June 26 joint meeting of the Brevard Ecusta Trail Advisory Board (ETAB), Brevard City Council, and Brevard Parks and Trails Committee.

 

The meeting ended with additional public comment from Steve Line, who moved to Turley Falls specifically to be near the Ecusta Trail, with a suggestion for an opening celebration to include a bike cruise similar to that done in Golden, Colorado, where people decorate their bikes and wear costumes.

 

Next meeting is scheduled for July 10, 2024, at 10:00 am.

 

Brevard Ecusta Trail

Advisory Board

 

By John Lanier

 

For nearly four hours on Wednesday, June 26, Brevard City Council met with members of the Ecusta Trail Advisory Board (ETAB) and Brevard Parks, Trails and Recreation Committee to receive information on the 30 percent design of the trail and to discuss the future governance and responsibilities regarding the trail. The council, by a 3-1 vote, also approved the branding/logo presented by FOET (Friends of Ecusta Trail).

 

Brief History of City Involvement

Towards the beginning of the meeting, Brevard Mayor Maureen Copelof gave a brief history of the city of Brevard’s involvement with the Ecusta Trail. The Brevard City Council voted to support the concept of the Ecusta Trail in 2015. Even though the city has just a few hundred yards of the planned trail within its boundaries, in 2021 the city decided to “take the lead” as the primary government agency because the Transylvania County leaders chose not to support the trail. 

 

In 2021 the city also formed the Ecusta Trail Advisory Board. The following year the city signed a 50-year lease with Conserving Carolina for use of the trail.

 

In the past few years, the city has received more than $45 million in federal grants for construction, as well as a $1 million grant for engineering.

 

“We have been incredibly successful in getting that funding,” said Copelof, who added that collaboration with Henderson County was instrumental in getting the grants.

 

Need For Quick Decisions

 

Copelof said the regional aspect of the trail is both a “blessing and a challenge.” Since Henderson County should complete the first 6 miles of the trail by year’s end, the city of Brevard will have to make decisions sooner than anticipated in order to provide unity regarding signage, rules, etc. along the trail.

 

Chris Burns, Henderson County’s representative on ETAB and chair of RTAC, said the nine bridges from downtown Hendersonville to Horseshoe have been removed and the new, prefabricated bridges should be in place in August. He said paving of the trail should begin in late September or early October. The paving should take about three weeks, depending on the weather.

 

Burns said Henderson County is behind schedule on the second phase of the trail. Work on the 30 percent design phase is underway with completion of that section of trail set for the fourth quarter of 2027. 

 

Copelof said if design and construction on both Henderson County’s second phase (Ecusta West) and the Transylvania County section occur simultaneously, then there could be just one contract for both sections, which would save money.

 

Branding and Logo

 

As a result of the need to make decisions quickly, the council received information on branding and logos.

 

FOET president Mark Tooley said an operational committee comprised of members of FOET, Conserving Carolina, Brevard and Henderson County began meeting in January of 2023. In April of that year, the committee asked FOET to contract for branding services.

 

“We had lengthy input sessions up front,” said Tooley regarding branding and logo.

 

Tooley said several color schemes were considered, but the operational committee, in collaboration with a professional design business, came to an agreement on the color palette. The logo would be used along the trail and on promotional merchandise. 

 

Tooley said the branding/logo was presented at the last RTAC meeting, at which no action was taken, but that he would like to see city council vote so that the design can be brought to RTAC at its next meeting for a vote.

 

Hunter Marks, a landscape architect and a member of RTAC, made a presentation on designs for rest stations, location markers, benches, parking areas, etc. His graphics contained Southern Railways colors.

 

Both Copelof and Burns said a decision needed to be made on the colors.

 

Councilman Mac Morrow said the branding/logo is not a “big ticket” item for the city but “an operations item” that should be left up to the people who worked with the design professionals.

 

Copelof said FOET’s branding/logo presentation previously had been shown to members of the Brevard city staff and several council members.

 

“This was done collaboratively,” said Copelof of FOET’s branding/logo.

 

After a brief discussion, the council voted 3-1 to approve the FOET branding/logo with Morrow, Gary Daniel and Aaron Baker voting for the FOET design.

 

30 Percent Design

 

Kristy Stoudt of the engineering design firm TPD said the 30 percent design plans for the Transylvania County section of the trail would be sent to the NCDOT later that week.

 

“There’s a lot of review back and forth,” she said, adding that there are many federal transportation requirements that must be met whenever federal funds are being used. “There are a lot of steps. It’s a complicated process.”

 

Stoudt noted that environmental, social and economic impacts are all considered when designing a trail. Challenges include the trail going through floodways, floodplains and wetlands; roadway crossings; signs and traffic signals; shifting of the trail within the 100-foot right-of-way and erection of barriers and guardrails where the trail may be close to roads. 

 

She added that three bridges in Transylvania County can be used and repurposed instead of being replaced, thus saving about $1million.

 

She concurred with earlier statements that construction on the Transylvania County portion of the trail would begin in 2026 and conclude in 2027.

 

Visions For The Trail

 

Council members and others were asked to give their visions for the trail.

 

“I see this as a transportation infrastructure project first,” said Baker, adding that the city needs to prepare for the economic impact of the trail and to revise many of the city’s strategic plans to consider the trail’s impact.

 

Brevard City Planner Paul Ray said the trail would affect all of the city’s long-range plans – economic development, water and sewer, recreation, etc.


Daniel said the trail would be a destination for both tourists and locals and provide connectivity with neighborhoods, but said the city needs to have more information about the trail’s economic impact. 

 

“It’s a wonderful thing,” said Morrow, who added that all of the benefits of the trail are contained in the city’s grant applications for the federal funds. He also noted that it would provide an opportunity to educate people about the history and environment of the area.

 

Holder said it could be a way to connect and improve communication between diverse communities and there should be activities hosted along the trail to draw in folks who might not normally use the trail.

 

Copelof said it could improve the quality of life for everybody.

 

Tooley said the trail would be “very inclusive” and be used by people of all ages and abilities, including those in wheelchairs or babies in strollers.

 

Larry Chapman, who serves as the Transylvania County Board of Commissioners representative on ETAB, said everyone in the county is not in favor of more cyclists or the trail. He said people become frustrated whenever there are 15 cars waiting behind two cyclists.

 

“This creates animosity,” said Chapman.

 

Chapman, however, praised the city for its efforts to communicate with property owners along the trail and said communication is a key moving forward.

 

John Ditillo, a FOET representative on ETAB, said he belongs to a biking club of 120 members who live out in the county, but only 40 of them ride because the other 80 are terrified to ride on the roads. He said the trail would give those 80 people an opportunity to ride safely.

 

“I think it’s going to grow the cycling community,” Ditillo said.

 

Both Chapman and Holder asked how many current bicyclists would be taken off the streets once the trail is open.

 

Ditillo and other bikers on the boards said it would not have much impact on those who ride 30-40 miles a day, but it would reduce bike traffic where the trail is adjacent to current bike routes, such as the old Hendersonville Highway.

 

Baker said the trail is not meant to take all bikers off county roads and that while he does understand the frustration of some drivers being caught behind bicyclists, local leaders need to push back against hate and violence committed against bicyclists. He noted that one cyclist, a pediatrician, was hit with a full can of Coke and put in the hospital.

 

Who Decides What?

 

City Attorney Mack McKellar directed a discussion regarding the roles and responsibilities of the various organizations involved in the Ecusta Trail.

 

Copleof said there must be a structure as to which organizations and governmental bodies will make certain decisions.

 

“City council does not need to be micromanaging this project at all,” said Morrow.

Morrow said the purpose of the advisory boards, RTAC and ETAB, is to resolve operational issues and there is no need for elected bodies to get involved in those issues.

 

Baker said ETAB is not like other city of Brevard committees because it does not have two council members, it has members who live outside the city limits, and it does not take action votes.

 

“We never take votes,” said Baker of ETAB. “That committee needs to make decisions.”

 

McKellar suggested, and council members agreed, tweaking the membership of ETAB and empowering that board to make certain decisions, which would then be placed on the council’s consent agenda. Doing so would mirror the way Brevard handles other city committees and the way Henderson County treats RTAC.

 

There appeared to be a consensus that city staff would handle technical issues and council would decide policy issues based on input from ETAB. Some suggested the council make a decision on the western terminus of the trail based on information from ETAB, but Baker said he may ask council to take action on determining the western terminus before ETAB discusses it.

 

Copelof proposed, and others agreed, on updating the membership and responsibilities of ETAB, as well as working out what decisions would be ceded to FOET.

 

Tooley said RTAC has not approved the roles of FOET and both Henderson County and Brevard need to agree on the role of FOET, particularly if FOET is expected to hire a trail manager.

 

Other Items Of Interest 

  • Daniel asked if the Ecusta Trail would be a city park. McKellar said it would probably be best to consider the trail a park from a technical standpoint, just as the Estatoe Trail is considered a park.
  • Henderson County is looking to have a location marker every half mile and a stencil on the trail every tenth of a mile.

Next meeting is scheduled for July 31, 2024 @ 3:30 pm

 

 

 

The Trail Talk team is looking for additional writers who can attend and report on Henderson County or City of Brevard advisory committee meetings, or special events as needed. If you are interested in helping, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

July ET Events

 

Henderson County R-TAC Meeting

July 10, 2024 @ 10:00am – 12:00pm

 

https://www.hendersoncountync.gov/bc-rtac

____________________________

 

Brevard Ecusta Trail Advisory Board Meeting
July 31, 2024 @ 3:30pm – 5:30pm

 

Open to the public. Meeting at City Council Chambers. 

 

 

FOET NEWSLETTER CONTRIBUTORS: Bernard Grauer, Lynn Huffman, John Lanier, RJ Miner, Matt Revis and Cindy Ruzak.

 

 

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FOR TRAIL CONSTRUCTION QUESTIONS CONTACT:
Marcus Jones, P.E. Henderson County
Director of Engineering
(828) 694-6526