If you’re going to do something, do it right. That is Barry and Helene Tetrault’s motto, and that is exactly what they’ve done with their Bryson City business the Filling Station Deli & Sub Shop.
It’s a recent Saturday afternoon at Nantahala Brewing Company in downtown Bryson City. With bluebird skies overhead and the mountains of Southern Appalachia in the distance, brewery co-owner Joe Rowland scans his surroundings. There are children and dogs running around the front porch, with folks from Asheville, Atlanta, Charlotte and everywhere in-between raising their glasses high to another day in paradise.
There is power in numbers, and businesses in Bryson City are ready to join forces to have their voices heard.
With guidance from the Swain County Chamber of Commerce, merchants are working to form a Bryson City Downtown Merchants Association.
The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad introduces new people to all that Bryson City has to offer throughout the year, yet many locals are still not on board with the changes the train has brought with it.
The furniture manufacturer remembered as Carolina Wood Turning Company has been closed for more than 30 years, yet the smell of freshly cut wood and the sound of the steam whistle are still fresh in the minds of those who earned a living there.
The Bryson City business had many names throughout the years and made a number of different products, but its lifeblood was making furniture from Western North Carolina lumber. The company made wood pump tubing, tanners’ liquor logs and miscellaneous wood trimmings and solid bored colonial porch columns that can still be seen on older homes in Swain County.
Barbara Robinson of Bryson City drives by the Tuckasegee River on a daily basis, but lately the peaceful view of the river has been interrupted by overflowing trash piling up on the riverbank.
There’s only one thing Tim Hall isn’t sure of.
“Well, I don’t really know my age, but if I had to guess, I’d say I’m somewhere around 70 years old,” he chuckled.
Sitting in The Storytelling Center of the Southern Appalachians in downtown Bryson City, Hall reminisces about his childhood in the mountains of northern Pennsylvania. He grew up in a poor family, like many others in that time and place, but that never deterred them from enjoying life, from sharing in its grace and beauty — sharing in storytelling and oral traditions.
It’s not much of a street now. And soon, Fry Street might not be a street at all.
“What we’re working towards there is, of course, permanent closure to vehicular traffic,” said Karen Wilmot, executive director of Swain County Tourism Development Authority.
Heading west out of Bryson City, just before the highway narrows into a twisting two-lane road, a small, ramshackle hut watches over the crossroads of Southern Appalachia — a last stop before descending into the remote Nantahala Gorge ahead, or the desolate beauty of Fontana Lake to the right.
The shack, wedged between junk cars and a rundown trailer, has seen better days, on a property that has seen better years. But, upon closer inspection, a friendly face sits behind a counter filled with knickknacks and the wafting smell of boiled peanuts.
Eating with integrity, living with gratitude. When family, friends and the curious alike wander into the Cork & Bean in downtown Bryson City, co-owner Scott Mastej aims to put forward that exact message and philosophy.
“Our food is nourishing them. You are what you eat, and it’s really important to use to provide them with the freshest, most local and organic dishes possible,” he said. “We see those happy faces here, people enjoying our food and company, and it’s just so gratifying that they like what we do.”