A Brewtiful New Concept

Chef Mary-Kate Meadows, barista Andrew Starr, manager Robbi Lyda,
and owner Mark Pavao.
Portrait by Rachel Pressley

Seven years after Mark and Kristen Pavao began searching for the perfect café location, the couple realized their dream by re-opening 26-year-old Black Bear Coffee Co. in downtown Hendersonville. “We tried not change a whole lot,” says Mark. “It’s a concrete establishment in the foothold of the town.” 

But the couple will undeniably put their stamp on the place. Mark has a culinary degree from prestigious Johnson & Wales University and has worked as a pastry chef in a long list of high-end locations, including locally at Biltmore Estate. Kristen is a school psychologist who helps Mark run the place in her off time. “My wife and I believe that this wouldn’t have been possible without the help of our great staff,” says Mark. “We created a new menu with our executive chef, Mary-Kate Meadows. She has taken over the food and is using as much local product as she can find. All food ordered from the menu is made fresh every day. Our general manager, Robbi Lyda, has put together our new drink menus. Both Mary-Kate and Robbi have awesome experience in each side of their fields and bring a lot to the table for us.”

The Pavaos went back to the café’s original roaster, Bean Werks Coffee & Tea. Specialty drinks include the popular “Dust ’til Dawn,” which consists of chamomile, raw sugars, cinnamon powder, and maple syrup. Bagels, avocado toast, and a buffalo-chicken wrap are casual favorites. “People often come here for business meetings, so we put together a snack menu, too,” says Mark. “We offer a hummus platter and an olive sampler platter so that people can work, have meetings, and share food without being locked into a full meal.”

And, of course, in-house pastries will top the list. “[This location] is the best thing we could’ve ever wished for,” says Mark.

Black Bear Coffee Co., 318 North Main St., Hendersonville. The café is open Monday-Saturday, 7am-7pm and Sunday, 8am-6pm. (Hours may change a bit in winter.) www.blackbear.coffee. 828-MYCOFFEE (692-6333). Facebook: Black Bear Coffee Espresso Bar and Cafe. Instagram: @theblackbearcoffeeco.

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