What seemed like a slight alteration to Table's entryway turns out to open the door to much more: Chef Jacob Sessoms and his team are building a cocktail bar and lounge on the second floor of the building. They moved the doorway to open up the marble staircase leading to the upper level.
“We are gearing it as a separate entity, but connected,” Sessoms says. Bar manager Jesse Ratliff will expand his craft cocktail efforts in the 1,200-square-foot expansion with a large bar and a small lounge area.
The space will give the Table team room to experiment with both drinks and light food items. Table's commitment to house-made charcuterie will receive more emphasis upstairs. “The focus of the food upstairs is going to be raw and cured,” Sessoms says. “Oysters, tartare, sashimi, cheese.”
The project has been in the works for about two years, and Sessoms says that when he hired Ratliff about a year ago, he had this project in mind. “He operates his end of the restaurant just as I do, really, like a chef,” Sessoms says. “His idea is to find the best ingredients, make the best combinations and please somebody with it.”
With the lounge space, Sessoms plans to offer something that's missing in Asheville: “Asheville has been either a restaurant town or a bar scene, and the bar scene is meant for drinking,” he says. Instead, he plans to create a more relaxed environment.
He hopes the lounge will attract, among others, people who are interested in food and cocktails but can't necessarily afford the upscale dinner downstairs. “Come have a really good drink and just a bite of our food,” he says. “I think [the clientele] will skew a little younger. But Asheville's changing, too — dramatically. There's more good jobs every year, so there's more people sub-40 with enough money to spend to have a decent drink.”
Sessoms says he has opened enough restaurants to know that timetables are unreliable at best, but he hints that the upstairs space could be open before the year is out. But for him, taking his time is part of the process. “Everything I can do, I do myself,” he says. “I did the plumbing; I did the design; I did the electrical work in [Table]. Upstairs I'll do less, just because I have less time nowadays. I like to do it all. I like to see how everything works, so it takes longer.”