The first time Bold Life spotted the products of Green River Picklers at a local tailgate market, we were charmed by the various titles that founder Beau Martin and his partner Brandi Morrow had put on their creations. Micro-local pride was abundant in delicacies such as “The Narrows,” a sweet-spicy pickle that name-checks a famously kicking section of the Green River — the group of rapids that lures whitewater enthusiasts from the world over.
More straightforwardly, “Spicy Appalachian Okra” broadcasts its intentions with fresh cayenne and garlic. “Blue Ridge Beets” features a top note of clove.
The items’ illustrated labels prove Martin’s apparent homesickness for the Green River corridor where he was raised. (The entrepreneur claims he got his pickling prowess from both sides of his family, the NC-native branch and the Northern Italian tributary.)
“Beau grew up in the heart of the Green River, kayaking and tubing … fishing and swimming at Lake Summit. It’s home for him,” confirms Morrow. “When it comes to the names of our products, we like to pay homage to family members and close friends as well as the areas in WNC that we love.” Their “Tuxedo Beans,” she says, “are named after Beau himself … it was his nickname growing up [when “Beau” was misread as “Bean”].”
“MF’s Jalapeños” stand for Martin’s mother, Mary Frances, and “Willy’s Dillys” are named after his maternal grandfather. Seasonal “Spicy Green Tomatoes” — Morrow calls them “the pickle that started it all” — were inspired by Martin’s paternal grandfather.
“Since we started the business five years ago, we’ve moved around all over Asheville,” says Martin. “We’ve been at our Weaverville location for two years now. We spent the first three years making pickles in Black Mountain and commuting from wherever we were living at the time — West Asheville, which is where Brandi grew up … Candler, Black Mountain, and Oakley.”
But now Martin and Morrow are going back to the roots of the enterprise, reopening their operation in Tuxedo/Zirconia. A growing migration of the foodie scene to areas south of Asheville encouraged the move, topped by a lucky chance.
“Commercial space in the area was scarce [when we started], and still is,” notes Morrow. “We were pretty set in our path to purchase the Weaverville property and call it home for a long while.” But then, she reveals, a historic building in the heart of the tiny burg became available: the former community store. A lot across the street that used to house a mill became Tuxedo Park.
“Beau’s parents Mary and Dave Martin are very active in the Green River Community Association and helped make the new park a reality,” says Morrow. “Over the years, Green River Picklers has been more involved with Tuxedo events like Discovery Day and the chili cook off.” (Beau won last winter’s chili cook-off, she reveals.)
They’re moving their equipment now, and by the end of next month, Morrow and Martin hope to have a fully operational commercial kitchen in the space of the old store. They increased production by more than 50 percent when they were recently picked up by new retailers via Pate Dawson/Southern Foods, spreading the love beyond established locales in Asheville, Raleigh, Charlotte, Greenville, and Knoxville into Charleston, Atlanta, Nashville, and Richmond.
At home, though, the new venue will include its own retail storefront, plus room for private events and classes. “We want Green River Picklers to become a part of the community that is its namesake — and the community seems to be excited to have us,” says Morrow.
Green River Picklers, 1286 Old US Hwy. 25. For more information about the future store, and for a list of local places to get Green River Picklers products, see grpicklers.com.