Mayfel's Restaurant Goes Back to its Cajun Creole Cuisine - TribPapers

Mayfel’s Restaurant Goes Back to its Cajun Creole Cuisine

Mayfel's Restaurant remodeled to reflect New Orleans style. Photo submitted.

Asheville – Mayfel’s Restaurant is now open under new ownership, and they are serving up authentic Cajun and Creole cuisine. The new owners, Sherrye and Anthony Coggiola, were high school sweethearts. Like many Asheville natives, they were raised to find a job and move away because there weren’t many jobs here.

But in 2010, Sherrye’s stepfather was having health issues and had many commercial tenants who couldn’t pay their rent due to the economic crash. With Sherrye’s background in commercial real estate, Anthony and Sherrye decided it was time to move back to Asheville to help the family.

Accidental Restaurant Owners

While helping her stepfather renegotiate leases on his commercial properties, one property was left unresolved: the La Paz restaurant in Biltmore Village. The Coggiolas couldn’t find any restauranteurs to take the business, so they ended up taking it over themselves. Sherrye explained, “We didn’t have a choice. We needed to be able to figure out how to pay the rent. It was pretty serious, and, of course, there was all the staff that had been there for many years. So with no experience in the restaurant business, we call ourselves the accidental restaurant owners, we ended up with the restaurant and renamed it The Cantina.”

Thirteen years later, they still own the restaurant and are doing well. “The Cantina really runs itself,” said Sherrye. “We have an amazing staff, many of whom have been there longer than us. They’re our family.”

The Opportunity to Take Over Mayfel’s

With the success the Coggiolas have had, they’ve found themselves with the desire to expand. Sherrye shared, “For the last three or four years we actually have been looking around the Southeast for another opportunity, and because of my background in real estate, we were really looking for, not just restaurants, but a business with real estate. We have the energy and the time, and really just wanted to do something else. When the chance came up to purchase Mayfel’s, both my husband and I were like, ‘That’s just perfect.’”

Sherrye continued, “We bought Mayfel’s in September, and we made a plan for 90 days, just to watch efficiencies. We shut down on January 2 and did the remodel. We modeled it after Galatoire’s in New Orleans.”

The Caggiolas have more plans, “We’re working on the back patio. It will be for late-night, with curated cocktails along with limited food. There’ll be gumbo and jambalaya for sure.” With the sidewalk dining and patio, the full capacity will be about 100 people.

Bringin’ the Bayou to the Blue Ridge

The Coggiolas are bringing the menu back to its Cajun and Creole roots. “The menu had kind of eased into the southern side of things, probably partially due to Tupelo Honey’s success, but we really wanted to go back to the New Orleans roots,” Sherrye Coggiola said. “In Asheville you’ve got a lot of options, but there’s really nothing that’s a Cajun Creole focus.

Anthony Caggiolla took the kitchen staff and general manager to New Orleans, “They literally ate eight times a day for three days,” said Sherrye, “We brought back a few unique things from New Orleans.”

Sherrye’s excitement while sharing new items on the menu was contagious, “At Galatoire’s itself, they have something called Spinach Rockefeller. It’s creamed spinach with a little bit of anise on top and some shallots chopped in; it’s unbelievable. We have that as one of our sides at dinner. We brought some sidewinder fries, which again were unique; I think those might have been at Galatoire’s as well. We have beignets. We brought the actual Po’ Boy bread from New Orleans, it’s a very specific bread. We’ve got alligator bites on the menu, and we have a crab cake fritter, which is amazing.”

Allergy-Friendly Options

With so many people having food allergies now, the Coggiolas are working to offer options. “We’re really trying to tweak our recipes right now to make them more gluten friendly. We just added a gluten-free biscuit and will have a gluten-free bun for our Po’ Boy.

Benedicts are really our focus. We will serve Benedicts all day until 3 o’clock. We can do them on either a gluten-free bun or our grits. Our grits are amazing. Our shrimp and grits are the best in this town.”

Cognizant of other food reactions, Mayfel’s also doesn’t use tree nuts unless they’re doing a praline special. For instance, for their grand opening, which they did on Fat Tuesday with friends and family, they had a beignet that was stuffed with praline cream. According to Sherrye, “It was unbelievable.”

Skip A Side or Bank A Beignet for Charity

Both Coggiolas are very community minded. Toward that end, they love to give back to help people. “At the Cantina we started our Skip A Side program in 2013,” said Sherrye. “All of our entrées at the cantina come with two sides, and you can donate one of your two sides to Manna Food Bank. We actually donate two dollars directly to Manna for each side. We have donated enough to provide over half a million meals. For every dollar that Manna gets, they can produce four meals, so every two dollars produces eight meals.”

“We’re doing the same thing with our beignets; we’re going to do a Bank A Beignet,” Sherrye continued. “We have two beignets per serving, so if you give up one beignet we will give two dollars to Manna. It’s been very successful at the Cantina, and we wanted to continue with that.”

Mayfel’s going back to its roots seems to be a wonderful opportunity to try Cajun and Creole flavors, and I can confirm one statement Sherrye made, they do have the best Shrimp and Grits in town.

Check out the new menu at