Aaron Williams is a music lover. He named the bar that he’s opening on Wall Street in downtown Asheville, The National Lounge and Social, after a Brooklyn-based band.
Williams also owns Appalachian Strings in the Grove Arcade, a store specializing in handcrafted instruments including dulcimers, ukuleles and guitars.
His love for music is why, after additions such as a secondary fire exit allow him to expand his capacity from 49 to 80, he’ll outfit The National to host bands.
“Eighty people is a nice, intimate show space,” he said.
Williams said he hopes the bar’s decor gives it a modern, intimate feel. He’s working with an interior designer to execute his ideas. “Hopefully the end product will be a nice space,” he said. “We’re hoping to break the mold and not go the reclaimed timber and industrial chic (route) — it’s been way overdone.”
The National will also venture outside of the norm for Asheville bars in that it will serve beer that’s mostly from outside of the area. “I feel like everybody is doing (local) really well, and I want to bring something new to the market,” he said.
The wine menu will include high-end and unusual wines, Williams said. The cocktail program is still up in the air, but Williams wants craft cocktails. He’s hoping to bring in a bartender to take over the liquor program or design the menu.
The National will likely open in the morning with espresso and baked goods. A patio fronting Wall Street will seat about 25.
“That’s the main reason I went for that place,” he said. “I’ll have it set up like a Paris Cafe outside.”
The National will open at 58 Wall St. in January. More here.