From handmade paper journals to vintage clothing, French fare to Indian cuisine, Lexington Avenue is not your average thoroughfare.
That is why Michel Baudouin decided in 2005 to locate his French restaurant in the heart of the Lexington Avenue district. His Bouchon bistro has been a terrific success ever since.
“Lexington is an eclectic street where different types of businesses mix very well,” says Baudouin, who is the owner and chef of Bouchon, located at 62 N. Lexington Ave. “The avenue has fabulous architecture, which provides a perfect setting for my place.”
Baudouin says the idea of his bistro is to offer customers the quickest trip to France they can take without ever having to leave Asheville.
“I am from Lyon, France, where small mom-and-pop restaurants are called bouchons,” he says. “My place has 40 seats and a small patio in back, and the Lexington Avenue energy is as close to any European town that you would find in America, except for maybe San Francisco.”
Baudouin says Bouchon is ideal for sipping a glass of wine while enjoying dishes such as escargot, French onion soup and the quiche of the day.
“My restaurant specializes in French comfort food, and Lexington Avenue provides the ideal location for such relaxing cuisine,” he says. “I like being among the unusual and talented business owners who operate out of this most interesting section of Asheville.”
Other trendy spots along Lexington Avenue include Hip Replacements, which sells vintage clothing from the 1960s and ’70s; and Izzy’s Coffee Den, known for having the best coffee in western North Carolina.
More Lexington Avenue Shops
“All the stores on Lexington Avenue are locally owned, and there is always a good chance that the owner will be on the premises whenever a customer stops in,” says Michael Hatch, owner/artist of Crucible Glassworks at 106 N. Lexington Ave. “The owner might be cooking your meal, brewing your morning cappuccino or ringing up your sales.”
In Hatch’s case, he is a professional glassblower whose storefront is his studio/gallery. In fact, customers can stop by to watch him make his colorful creations.
“I like Asheville because of its vibrant crafts community, and I’ve always been attracted to the energy of downtown districts,” he says. “Lexington Avenue provides that energy here in Asheville.”
Hatch says when he opened his studio eight years ago, Lexington Avenue wasn’t as vibrant as it is today.
“Now, everything on the block is occupied and filled in,” he says. “Lexington has been growing with the right kind of businesses, which is really good to see.”
Lexington Avenue devotees say the street epitomizes the city’s independent streak, and the motto of the Lexington Avenue Merchants Association is: “Where world culture meets counter culture.” The street also has its own festival – the Lexington Avenue Arts & Fun Festival.
“My gallery/studio houses a 2,000-degree furnace that holds 200 pounds of molten glass that I shape into different vessels and sculptures,” Hatch says. “Lexington Avenue is the ideal place for a somewhat unusual business such as mine.”