Jettie Rae's Fish n' Such Will Provide Asheville with New and Inclusive Restaurant Experience
If you’re eager for a new and innovative way to enjoy the town you call home, the place you set down roots, the destination you chose to raise your family, you’re in luck. Longtime Asheville residents Eric Scheffer and Jim Diaz are planning to build a new restaurant, Jettie Rae’s Fish n’ Such, along the French Broad River in Asheville. Tentatively slated to open in 2020, this small-footprint restaurant will provide counter service with rooftop seating and will be accompanied by an accessible open-air pavilion, public restrooms, and two Airstream pop-ups. This restaurant concept, which will activate open space along the French Broad River in Asheville’s River Arts District, aligns with the City of Asheville’s guidelines and ordinances for riverfront planning and development.
The origin story for the Jettie Rae’s restaurant concept started long ago in Eric’s youth. Spending summers working and playing along the waters of Oyster Bay and Cold Spring Harbor on the Long Island Sound, Eric spent his childhood and young adulthood amid clam bars, lobster shacks, and seafood concession stands. He would go clamming and fishing, and also drop lobster pots to earn extra money in his high school years. His love for food and passion for the ocean were intermingled early in his life, and he’s excited to combine them both again in this new venture.
This restaurant concept, which will activate open space along the French Broad River in Asheville’s River Arts District, aligns with the City of Asheville’s guidelines and ordinances for riverfront planning and development.
If Eric’s name sounds familiar to you, it’s no surprise. He’s been a successful restaurateur in Asheville since 1995, first with The Savoy, and currently owns and operates Vinnie’s Neighborhood Italian Restaurant, voted Asheville’s best Italian restaurant nine years in a row. Eric is a founding member of the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association (AIR) and founded Dining Innovations, Asheville’s premier catering, and corporate event company.
When asked why he is so enthusiastic about this particular project, Eric replied, “We [Jim] love our city and its natural beauty; our goal for Jettie Rae’s is to be great stewards of the land and give back to the community, as there is no place in the world like Asheville. I want Jettie Rae’s to be the destination for people looking for the best seafood from any region, for people to build new memories through our food and the experience they have enjoying it along the river.”
Eric’s business partner, Jim Diaz, also developed a deep connection to food early in life. He was born into a family of Spanish and French Creole descent and grew up watching his mother and grandmothers prepare classic, uniquely Louisiana food. Jim has similar ties to the water as Eric, though his connection began to the south of Asheville instead of north: New Orleans. He likes to say that he learned everything he knows while spending time on the river, first becoming hooked on all things canoeing and kayaking when he was eight years old at Camp Mondamin on Lake Summit and the Headwaters of the Green River as well as the mountains of the Southeast. Every summer he’d be out on the waters of the French Broad and other nearby rivers, “enjoying the freedom of the current” while teaching others to do the same. The first company he started was inspired by these memories: the invention of a unique drybag product for rafting, canoeing, and kayaking to keep valuable gear safe and dry while on the river.
Whether patrons are looking to pick up a sandwich for a few bucks or sit down for a family meal, Jettie Rae’s aims to have something for everyone.
Jim went on to start several other businesses over the years and in 2001 was awarded the Small Business of the Year Sky High Growth Award by the Asheville Chamber of Commerce. But he’s excited to get back to what really matters to him—the river, this time with his decades of entrepreneurial experience backing up the venture.
“Eric is a long-time friend, and when he came to me with the concept of Jettie Rae’s, I was so inspired, and I knew it had to be on the French Broad River,” said Jim. “This was an opportunity to merge my lifelong passion as a paddler with my work in real estate and my love of Louisiana seafood culture.”
Offering fresh coastal seafood and seasonal produce, sustainability is a core part of the Jettie Rae’s mission, as is providing food for everyone regardless of their socioeconomic status. Whether patrons are looking to pick up a sandwich for a few bucks or sit down for a family meal, Jettie Rae’s aims to have something for everyone. The open-air pavilion, part of the planned structure, will be a place where people can enjoy the green space open to the public.
“Safe, public places where all are welcomed is a key to strengthening our community,” said Eric. “It’s one of the things Asheville should be known for—it doesn’t matter what you look like, where you’re from, or how much money is in your pocket. We want to provide a place where all of Asheville can come together and just be themselves.”
Do you have questions about this project not answered in this blog post? Check out our FAQs. We also welcome you to contact us with inquiries and comments. We are passionate about this space, our fellow Ashevillians, and this land we call home.