We have the pleasure of partnering with a new community-focused restaurant concept, Jettie Rae’s. Jettie Rae’s is a small-footprint seafood restaurant that will provide counter service with rooftop seating and will be accompanied by an accessible open-air pavilion, public restrooms, and two Airstream pop-ups. The opening is tentatively slated for 2020.
The concept for Jettie Rae’s took root 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. Clam bars, lobster shacks, and seafood concession stands dotted the beaches where he spent his childhood and young adulthood. He worked clamming, fishing, and dropping lobster pots to earn a little extra money in his high school years, so his passion for food and passion for the ocean were intermingled early in his life, and he’s excited to combine them both once more in this new restaurant.
We love working with their all-local team on marketing, branding and communications and helping to educate the public about this exciting project.
As long-established residents of Asheville, our agency is committed to working on projects that we believe will strengthen our community and keep it sustainable and enjoyable for all.
From the official press release:
“We 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,” said Eric. “My passion for seafood, however, isn’t tied to one location—it covers the shores of Maine down to the Gulf Coast, and at times even beyond that. 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.”
His 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.
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. Jettie Rae’s is different parts of me and Eric: he brings the New England seafood culture and I bring the seafood feasts from southern Louisiana. Everything I have done so far in life has prepared me for this journey.”
Offering fresh coastal seafood and seasonal produce, sustainability is a core part of the restaurant’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, and the open-air pavilion where people can enjoy the green space is 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.”
This project will activate open space along the French Broad River in Asheville’s River Arts District and aligns with the City of Asheville’s guidelines and ordinances for Riverfront planning and development.