Written by Jennifer Fitzgerald | Photos by Anthony Harden
Winter blues got you down? Local restaurants and bars just might have some cures for what ails ya…
Winter—the season for reflection. A time to lounge around the fireplace with a good book and watch the snow fall outside. By this time in the season, however, you may find yourself in a different frame of mind. You may be in your pajamas by sunset and eating comfort food all night long. You are so ready for spring with some warmer temperatures and Daylight Saving Time that you have your flip-flops strategically placed by the front door, ready for the warm weather that is, hopefully, on its way.
You are not alone. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a depression in response to changes in the natural day/night cycle that normally occurs in winter months. It is estimated to affect ten million Americans. Another ten to twenty percent may have mild SAD. It is more common in women than in men.
Dr. Steven Buser, of innerQuest Psychiatry and Counseling in Asheville, says that SAD is very often a component of the depressions that are treated at innerQuest.
“Even though Asheville is fairly far south, you still see a lot of it,” he says. “We see increased appetite, increased sleep, decreased mood, carbohydrate cravings, and lack of energy and interest.”
Recommended treatment for patients who suffer from SAD to any significant degree is a light box for therapy. Meanwhile, says Buser, those suffering from a mild case of this winter depression can combat it with activity.
“If you have SAD, try and get outdoors. Be aware that if you have a bright day, take a brisk half hour walk. Stay active, work out, get the aerobic heart rate beating. There are a lot of behavioral things that can improve it.”
To that end, local restaurants, bars, and breweries offer activities for their customers to get them out of the house on a cold winter night in order to have some fun and stay active. It may be a competitive round of trivia. Or perhaps a turn at the karaoke microphone belting out your favorite song. There are many options in Western North Carolina to help with those winter blues.
The Black Mountain Ale House in downtown Black Mountain offers trivia night every Tuesday. Owner John Richardson explains that it’s a break from the ordinary and a wonderful way to build community.
“We typically have a full house, and often times there is a wait for tables to open up,” he says. “It is the most popular non-weekend evening. Not only do we have lively discussion among the teams gathered around the tables, but we also have a great sense of camaraderie and competition that has developed with our ‘regular’ teams.”
The Ale House has been hosting Trivia Tuesdays for years, so they offer a variety of questions that appeal to every walk of life and skill level.
“Our Trivia Master is the manager at Town Hardware, as well as spending the first part of his career as an ordained minister—that’s why he’s known affectionately as ‘Preacher’—so the topics tend to be as varied as his career path,” Richardson says.
Richardson sees regulars who have been attending the weekly event for over four years. While there is some competition among the players, the goal is to have a good time. The Ale House awards gift certificates to the top finishers, along with special prizes for best team names.
While trivia night boosts sales at the Ale House, that is only part of the benefit.
“It is a great change of pace for us and another great way of connecting folks who might not come out on a Tuesday night otherwise,” Richardson says.
Be A Rock Star
Four nights a week, The Social, located on Tunnel Road in East Asheville, cranks up the karaoke machine. Talk about entertainment—owner Cory Short says it is the only place better than Walmart for people watching. On average, 30 singers perform each night with dozens of regulars who attend.
Short says The Social offers karaoke because Asheville has a large karaoke following. They run a $500 twelve-week contest a couple times a year. He sees more in attendance in the winter because of people looking for indoor things to do.
“We have some extremely talented people that come out from time to time,” Short says. “Asheville has a handful of singers that could easily win American Idol. In fact, Asheville native [and Season 13 winner] Caleb Johnson was a karaoke host briefly for Get Vocal Entertainment. Don’t let that intimidate you, as most are still very amateur and just looking to have fun.”
The Social could be playing your song on a Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night at 10PM. Short says the key to karaoke is confidence. And the most popular song? “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey—of course!
Here is a sampling of area restaurants, bars, and breweries that offer games and activities:
117 C Cherry Street, Black Mountain blackmountainalehouse.com
Trivia Night every Tuesday from 7-9PM
8 Beverly Road, Asheville creeksidetaphouse.com
Trivia Night every Monday
Also pinball, corn hole & arcade games
29 W. French Broad Street, Brevard
Trivia Night every Tuesday
10 Patton Avenue, Asheville
Has an indoor bocce ball court
Heinzelmännchen Brewery, Inc.
545 Mill Street, Sylva
Board games available for play during operating hours
117 Main Street, Canton
Trivia with Vickie, dates vary
Nantahala Brewing Company, Inc.
61 Depot Street, Bryson City
Offering corn hole game
20 South Spruce Street, Asheville
The South Bar offers shuffleboard
319 N. Haywood Street, Waynesville
Karaoke every Tuesday from 8PM midnight
Standard Pizza Co
755 Biltmore Ave, Asheville
Ping pong table and shuffleboard
1078 Tunnel Road, Asheville
Karaoke every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, & Sunday night at 10PM
Tipping Point Tavern and Brewery
190 North Main Street, Waynesville
Trivia Night every Wednesday at 7:30PM
208-A Faculty Street, Boone
Karaoke Night every Wednesday at 9PM, Trivia Night every Thursday at 7PM
Wild Wing Café
>>161 Biltmore Avenue, Asheville
Darts, shuffleboard, video games, & karaoke on Saturdays
>>65 Long Shoals Road, Asheville
Trivia Night with Kelilyn
Games People Play
Stop by Heinzelmännchen Brewery, Inc., in downtown Sylva, and chances are someone will be playing a game. The brewery keeps a bountiful stock of board games available for their customers, bringing a similar feel to that of a German bierhalle, where folks drink, talk, and enjoy each other’s company.
“Our brewery is family friendly, so kids and adults or just the adults will play the games,” says Sheryl Rudd, one of the owners of Heinzelmännchen. “We encourage folks to converse with each other and us. We enjoy talking about our beer, other craft beers, the brewing process, local and independently owned shops, restaurants, farmers’ markets, and what to do in the area.”
Some of the favorite games of the customers are backgammon, card games (including Spades, Hearts, Go Fish, Solitaire and War), Jenga, chess, and checkers. Rudd says the brewery is planning a Thinking & Drinking game, which is a card game that asks questions to each player such as “Do you want more money or time?” “You wake up alone in the woods. What’s the first thing you do?” This will add another level of conversation to the brewery.
The games are not organized into competitions, but there may be a rivalry between family members or friends.
“We have regulars that will stop by for a pint and card game or challenge their mate to a game of chess,” Rudd said. “By offering these games we encourage people to put their phone/computer down and enjoy a game of cards, chess, Jenga, checkers, and carry on a conversation.”
Not A Trivial Pursuit
The Imperial of Canton started holding trivia nights, because many of their “jolly regulars” love to get together during the week and socialize. Morgan Owle-Crisp, from The Imperial, says having a trivia night was just a fun activity for their customers to compete in teams or couples and win a gift card, usually $25.
“One of our staff, Vickie Stansell, generates questions each week and tries to pull things from a variety of topics since we have a mixture of ages with our players,” Owle-Crisp says. “Typically there are 10 to 15 playing.”
The Imperial hosts the game on the porch or patio area during warmer weather, and inside in the bar when the temperatures are cooler.
“I think, on average, more people have been coming in the fall and winter,” Owle-Crisp adds. “We also have higher sales in the cooler months just because our locals seem to spend as much time visiting the lake in the warmer months as possible.”
Karaoke Superstars vs. Trivia Teams
The Town Tavern, located in Boone, is a destination for Appalachian State University students, as well as locals, featuring karaoke on Wednesdays at 9PM and trivia on Thursdays at 8PM Owner Patrick Burke says they also offer “really good food specials that include fresh seafood.”
Trivia night finds the tavern full to capacity with many students, with 10 to 14 people on a trivia team. It is the second largest night of the week for the business, behind Monday wing night.
Since the tavern is located in a college town, the karaoke crowd depends on the weather and time of the year.
“Our karaoke gives everyone a chance to get up on stage and be a superstar,” Burke says.
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