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WNC Business

Expanding business avenues within the tourism industry

Apr 24, 2023 02:09AM ● By Randee Brown

When Curaté Owner Katie Button first visited Asheville, she and her family knew the city was the right place to open their first restaurant.

“It was a feeling,” said Button. “The vibrant downtown, the artist community, the craft breweries, the markets… It’s the creative energy that makes Asheville so wonderful. It was everything that Asheville is now, just smaller.”

In 2011, the family opened Cúrate, a Spanish tapas-style restaurant that has earned many awards, accolades, and recognitions over the years including Food & Wine Magazine’s 40 Most Important Restaurants of the Past 40 Years. When Covid swept through the nation in early 2020, Button said that she felt forced to close Cúrate’s doors.

Button said another of her restaurants, La Bodega, was then created out of necessity. 

“Cúrate is not the kind of place that’s top of mind for takeout,” Button said. “We knew we had to get people back to work, and from that idea, we opened La Bodega to continue connecting people to the Spanish cuisine and wine that we love through pick-up friendly dishes.”

In the summer of 2020, Button created Cúrate At Home and the Cúrate Spanish Wine Club as a way to continue to reach fans and friends that don’t live in Asheville as well as the locals still staying at home.

By creating these at-home services, Button realized an opportunity to create her own product line — charcuterie. “The head of charcuterie has an eye for perfection,” Button said. “We are focusing now on products that we make, still working with our producers and farmers as we perfect the process, and reaching more people through our store in Asheville as well as a wider range of people online.”

Button said that starting these ventures felt like a necessity, and now they are redefining the company’s visioning. She said that by diversifying her business, she can better handle ebbs and flows in any crisis time and reach more people.

As a business that employs 160 people in Asheville, Button said she is leveraging her many avenues of business and learning how others in the tourism industry can better set themselves up to survive

“Anything can mess up habits of consumer behavior,” Button said. “It’s nice to be able to create different ideas in my passion that speak to a variety of customers.”

“Asheville brings in a lot of visitors for the well-rounded list of incredible experiences that makes the city such a special place to live and visit,” Button said. “It’s the combination, not one aspect or another. When you layer all of the aspects together, that’s what becomes the superpower of Asheville.”

She also credits the community of makers for putting the energy and pizzazz into what makes Asheville what it is. She said that it is the vibrancy and creativity of artists, musicians, chefs, and business entrepreneurs that encourage more and more tourists to visit the area.

As a member of Asheville Independent Restaurants, a nonprofit organization supporting collaboration of independent restaurants, Button said the group is a place of connection and problem solving, helping to improve the area’s restaurant industry.

“We are connecting to the community and networking, asking questions to each other lessening the need to reinvent the wheel,” Button said. “Asheville is full of new entrepreneurs, and the beginnings of these great ideas and passion for something WNC is just one of those stories. When a restaurant owner is in that phase of starting something for the first time, the learning curve is steep. Those that have already figured it out can help those who are learning.”