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Men’s Journal: Neighborhood Heroes: Asheville, NC’s Bryan King, 12 Bones Smokehouse and Brewing

In this week’s installment of Neighborhood Heroes, we caught up with Bryan King, the co-owner of 12 Bones Smokehouse and 12 Bones Brewing, located in Asheville, North Carolina.

For years, King and his wife, Angela (plus their dedicated staff), have been dishing up “tender butts and sweet racks” for both locals and tourists alike in the western N.C. outdoor adventure hub. Locals will say that if you haven’t been to 12 Bones, you haven’t really been to Asheville. The made-from-scratch recipes and brews have helped establish that foothold in the community, but its other attributes—remaining humble, honest, hard-working, and willing to give back—have made the smokehouse-brewery more than a fixture. During the pandemic alone, 12 Bones has donated, prepared, and delivered a huge amount of food to keep those in need from going hungry. And, as those familiar with the Kings have come to expect, they are quick to deflect praise for their efforts and redirect it to members of their staff, pictured below.

Name: Bryan King
Title: Full-time driver of 12 Bones supplies and owner of 12 Bones Smokehouse and Brewing
Location: Asheville, NC
Years on the job: 3,180 days (just under nine years)

MEN’S JOURNAL: How has your work changed in the pandemic?
BRYAN KING: On March 21, we completely shut down both restaurants and the brewery, tearfully laying off 45 employees and uncertain as to what lay ahead for us. We quickly pivoted, initially only making food for those in need. But then after a month or so, we reopened both restaurants for take-away and outdoor dining only. No indoor seating. We added large tents for covered seating (fortunately we have large outdoor areas and we are very accustomed to handling to-go orders). We are operating with a reduced crew since some team members opted to stay out of work. We also reduced and streamlined our menu. With the help of generous donations, we have also continued to cook for those in need since April. Retail has been severely cut since the entire customer interaction is now conducted outside under a tent. Catering is maybe 5-10 percent of what it used to be, and we have virtually no onsite rentals or events on the books, but I still feel like we are lucky because we do have those large outdoor spaces and we have been able to do a ton of to-go.

Assuming our numbers don’t drop off any more, or the situation doesn’t take a turn for the worse, we should be able to maintain this new normal for the foreseeable future. Of course, everything is contingent upon the fact that we do not have an outbreak, forcing us to shut down temporarily—because we no longer have adequate staff to operate effectively.

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