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Mad Batter to reopen in Sylva

From the ashes of a recent fire, Mad Batter Bakery & Café will reopen. But, instead of returning to the campus of Western Carolina University in Cullowhee where it was located for 15 years, the beloved establishment will set up shop in downtown Sylva.


“We’re totally excited about being in Sylva,” Mad Batter owner Jeannette Evans said. 

With the grand opening scheduled for mid-April, the name of the new business will be changed to Mad Batter Food & Film. The restaurant will still offer food selections like those from the old location but also screen classic films. Come for dinner and movie, or come for just dinner or a movie.

“We’ll be starting out with Mad Batter favorites, with an emphasis on popular items from the past menu,” Evans said. “We do hope — that because the new kitchen is larger — to expand the menu and have more variety.”

The new name also symbolizes the next phase of Evans’ business. Following the Nov. 21 fire, which also burned Rolling Stone Burrito and Subway in the commercial strip at WCU, Evans knew she would reopen, but she didn’t know where.

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“We did look at other properties in Cullowhee, but the choices were limited,” she said.

WCU announced on Feb. 5 that it had decided “to demolish the buildings damaged by the fire and notify all endowment fund tenants, including those not affected by the fire, that lease terms expiring in May will not be renewed, except on a month-to-month basis. In addition, after a competitive process determined by the university, the board will select a private developer to build the mixed-use facility with a goal of occupancy in August 2016. All structures currently located along the commercial strip will eventually be removed.”

And with the new building on the WCU campus, Evans said she does have a “first right of refusal” when it is constructed. That means there may be hope for not only a second location of Mad Batter, but also a triumphant return to its original home in Cullowhee.

“We actually look forward to opening up another location when there is a new building,” she said. “WCU has been really great to us throughout this process.”

Until then, Evans said that beyond the new location in Sylva, WCU has also granted Mad Batter permission to have a food truck parked in the old location. That will start once Evans finds the ideal vehicle for her operation.

“We’re actively looking into a food truck,” she said. “And as soon as we find the appropriate 12-foot step van, we’ll be in business.”

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