In the southeastern part of Transylvania, not far from the South Carolina border, is a small community called Cedar Mountain. It has no stoplight: just a few businesses, a post office and a fire station at the intersection of Cascade Lake Road and U.S. 276. But due to its proximity to DuPont State Recreational Forest, the community is starting to cater to the growing number of cyclists coming through their community.
The Canteen Bier Garden is filling the need for a watering hole for cyclists and hikers in DuPont, and the Cedar Mountain Café is serving great breakfast and lunch right across the street. Both businesses are jumping during the warmer months; Canteen co-owner Peyre Cleveland said that the only time The Canteen slows down is when there is snow on the ground.
The idea for the Canteen came to Peyre and his wife Aleshka before countywide alcohol sales became legal in 2014. Their original vision was a juice bar that would be ready to serve beer and wine when the time was right. When the residents of Transylvania County voted to allow countywide alcohol sales, the Clevelands jumped at the opportunity.
“We want the Canteen to be a place where families can stop in, play in the Little River, eat ice cream and enjoy a beer after a day in the woods,” said Peyre.
His family has lived in the Cedar Mountain area for generations, and he remembers when DuPont Corporation still owned the land that is now the recreational forest. The creation of the state forest has been a big part of the growth of cycling in Transylvania: the ease of access, mellower trails and even a kid’s skill area make the forest a unique destination for mountain bikers.
“Knowing DuPont when it still had the (manufacturing) plant on it, when the trails were just hunting trails and then watching it transition through the real estate phase, and now the forest…I knew it was just a matter of time before it became a major destination. I thought, ‘How can we be involved with our own niche and have fun doing it?’” said Peyre.
Aleshka runs the Canteen full-time, while Peyre is the facilities director at a local camp. Aleshka said that the Cedar Mountain Café has helped pave the way for Cedar Mountain as a destination. “I believe the Café has the best breakfast in the county,” she said. “You can go there, have a great breakfast or lunch and hit the trails. We have become good friends with the owners of the Café and we work together to lift each other up.”
The Canteen runs all regional beers on tap. Peyre is installing a new kegerator to bump the number of regional beers on tap to fourteen, in addition to a selection of canned and bottled beer from across the country. “We’re also serving sandwiches and wraps from the Cedar Mountain Café,” said Aleshka. “Everything is made every day at the Café. They’re wrapped up and ready to go for a day in the woods. A lot of people bring food from the Café and drink a beer in our garden.”
The Canteen is currently preparing for a busy season. Last year, DuPont forest staff recorded over 600,000 visitors to the forest, which is a conservative estimate. On the Canteen’s calendar for the summer is a “Cowbell Assault Party” where there is a planned cookout, heckling, and cheering for the Assault on the Carolinas ride that goes right by the Canteen.
The Community Tap House in Greenville also hosts a beer tour, where guests load up on a bus and hit Sierra Nevada, Brevard Brewing Company and Oskar Blues before stopping at the Canteen before heading back to Greenville. Peyre and Aleshka recently hosted an after party for a trail workday in DuPont, where members met for beer afterwards and some departed on a group mountain bike.
“We like hosting community events like that,” said Peyre. “We want to be involved and will continue to host them.” Aleshka has served on the Transylvania Youth Strings board of directors in the past and she has plans for members of that orchestra to play periodically. “What makes this all fun is the community involvement,” she said. “We have some of the best people serving drinks at our place. They’re a fun group of locals.”
Summer hours at the Canteen are “noonish to dark thirty.” To learn more about the Canteen bier garden visit their Facebook page, Cedar Mountain Canteen.
Cedar Mountain Café
Lucia Gerdes and her husband, Ilir Malkazi, own the Cedar Mountain Café. The pair lived in many places, most recently California, before settling in Cedar Mountain about three years ago.
Growing tired of the cost of living in California, Lucia began looking at other places to live. The Brevard area was on her radar, as she wanted to return to the mountains and the countryside that reminded her of her childhood home in Montana.
“I wanted to be back in nature,” she said. “I had to get out the city. I worked in a public relations firm for years, and decided the corporate world was not for me.” She and her husband started looking at different businesses for sale and Grammy’s, the restaurant that served the Cedar Mountain community for years, was on the market. “The place was kind of visceral and something about it and the location really spoke to me,” said Gerdes.
“I had the concept down in my head. I knew I wanted to have fresh food and organic, local meats.” Her ideas have played out for the most part.
The Cedar Mountain Café serves locally grown produce and meats from Hickory Nut Gap farms. “All of our meats are all nitrate free made from naturally grazing animals,” she said. “All our chicken is free range organic. Whenever we find seafood we only use sustainably farmed and procured products. We get all of our produce from the Whistlestop just down the road on U.S. 276.”
Cedar Mountain Café only serves bread made at the Bracken Mountain Bakery in downtown Brevard, and their coffee comes from Brown Bean Roasters, also in Brevard. The owners love breakfast, but hate how most breakfast plates come with unhealthy meats that are filled with questionable additives. “We serve real food,” said Gerdes. “You don’t need a dictionary to pronounce the ingredients in our meals.” Some of their more popular items are the house-made sodas and their hamburgers. This summer will be their third summer in business, and according to Gerdes, business has been great. “There are a lot of people that live up here,” she said. “And of course we get all the traffic on their way to and from DuPont.
Between the Canteen and the gift shops and the art galleries the summer is just overwhelmingly busy. It’s the best little community. I love Cedar Mountain.” To find out more about the Cedar Mountain Café, visit cedarmountaincafe.com.
Scenic 276 Arts Corridor Along the drive to Cedar Mountain from Brevard there are several art galleries, pottery shops and mixed medium studios. These artists find inspiration in the fresh mountain air and invite all travelers to stop and stretch their legs. There are so many galleries and studios that the Transylvania County tourism development authority has dubbed this stretch of highway the “Arts Corridor.” Visitors will find lodging, produce stands and camp sites as well. Visit scenic276arts.com for a full list of all galleries, studios, lodging and local produce stands.