Off the Wagon: the Concept
If you’ve never seen a dueling piano show, get ready for a crazy and fun-filled evening like you’ve never experienced.
As an entertainment venue, the musicians will impress you with their repertoire of thousands of popular songs from the last fifty years. It is an all request show, with no set list. Off the Wagon is an Asheville Dueling Piano Bar. All your favorite songs from when you first cranked up the stereo in your car and sang at the top of your lungs – just ask, and you might be amazed at many they know. Never taking themselves too seriously, they are all too happy to poke fun at themselves, the songs they sing, and even the audience. It’s a rock-and-roll, sing-along, total party atmosphere.
But the music isn’t the only thing happening at Off the Wagon. We have some of the most delicious drinks in the region along with the best service you’ve ever experienced. And sometimes the servers and bartenders are part of the show, so be prepared for anything. In fact, if you’re celebrating a special occasion, chances are pretty good you might end up being part of the show, as well! But whether you’re going out for a birthday, anniversary, bachelorette party, or simply to have a great evening, Off the Wagon is the place you will want to go for a great time.
Off the Wagon and Asheville
Off the Wagon is the brainchild of local businessmen Benjamin Reese and Jess Mills, and their collective vision of bringing the best of entertainment and good times to the Asheville downtown scene.
A native son, Benjamin Reese grew up seeing the sleepy city of Asheville transform into the bustling tourist attraction it has become. He left for several years to serve his country, and when he returned he saw the need for a live, interactive entertainment venue, providing both locals and tourists with the highest quality in music, beverages, and service.
Jess Mills is a native Texan, but has worked all across the country as a dueling pianist, from the legendary Bourbon St. in New Orleans to the glitz of Las Vegas. He has lived in Asheville for the better part of a decade, and knew the potential for a dueling piano bar located in the heart of the downtown scene.
With their combined knowledge, expertise, and passion for the industry, they decided to open a dueling piano bar combining the best qualities of dueling piano bars across the nation, while keeping strong ties to Asheville's proud heritage. The result is Off the Wagon Dueling Piano Bar, the Best Bar in Asheville, NC.
Located in a historic building once used as the Asheville Chamber of Commerce, Off the Wagon is on the last brick-paved road in Asheville, and is near many other well-known Asheville landmark businesses, such as The Venue, Asheville Community Theatre, The Thomas Wolfe Memorial, Mellow Mushroom, and many more.
Off the Wagon and our Armed Forces
Off the Wagon is proud to be a veteran owned and operated business. Owner and General Manager Benjamin Reese deployed on several deployments as an officer in the US Air Force, and then served in the Georiga Air National Guard while operating Off the Wagon. He seperated the guard, at the rank of Major, in April 2016. The flag we fly over our building was flown on a combat mission in Afghanistan, and we are grateful to display our nation’s colors at every opportunity. Inside Off the Wagon you will find a wall dedicated to the history and heritage of local citizens and their contributions to our nation’s Armed Forces. We take pride in our military connections, and salute the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms.
Questions About Our Show
Our Repertoire – what do we know?
While we do not know every style and genre, we do try to know thousands of songs for the enjoyment of our customers. We focus almost entirely on up-beat, popular radio hits from the last 50+ years – songs that are fun for our entire audience to sing along to and have a great time with.
While there are many beautiful songs written in sad and melancholy styles, we do not learn many of them for our show, because we are trying to create and maintain a *fun* atmosphere. We also do not perform Jazz standards, Classical masterpieces, or Broadway songs, because much of our audience is not able to sing along with these songs, as amazing as they may be.
Our Playlist – how fast will we play your song?
You, our audience, creates our playlist with your requests. We perform our songs in order of the generosity of tip that comes with the request. $5 requests will always be played ahead of $2 requests. $10 requests jump ahead of $5 requests, and so on. On a busy night, if there are fifteen $5 requests ahead of yours, and other people keep jumping the line with $10 and $20 requests, you may be waiting for several hours to hear your song. We can only play one song at a time, and it just works out that way. On slower nights, you’ll usually hear your song right away.
Money Back Guarantee
We do not EVER take your money and throw away your request, and ignore it. If you are tired of waiting to hear your request, come tell us what song it is and we’ll gladly hand you back your tip. Just be sure to ask the piano player not currently singing, as the one who is singing can’t talk and sing at the same time. Once an hour or so, we address all songs that we don’t know and ask people to come get their money back or exchange it for a different song. If we announce it, and you don’t hear us – you can still come take your tip back at any time. If we perform your song, and you don’t think it was up to your standards, you can come take your tip back. We ONLY want to take the tips of people who have heard their songs and are happy with our performance.
NOTE - We leave the tips with the song until after it is performed – only then do we drop the money into the tip jar. So, if you tell us you tipped us a $20 bill on your song, and it only has a $1 bill with it, we’re going to look at you a little funny, and we’re most likely going to hand you back a $1 bill. We’re on stage in front of everybody, with mirrors behind us and security cameras recording, and we do not steal!
Frequently Asked Questions - Everything Else You Want to Know
What are dueling pianos?
Dueling pianos is a unique format, with two piano players facing each other taking turns singing. It's an all request show, with no set list. Any of your favorite songs from the time when you first put the stylus on your favorite vinyl to the last time you cranked up the car stereo and sang at the top of your lungs. Whatever your favorite song is, just ask, and you might be amazed at what they can play.
Do you serve food?
If you love soup, you'll love our whiskey! However, we do not serve food as we do not have a kitchen. Please feel free to bring in food from any of the restaurants or pubs! You can also have something delivered!
Why are you a private bar?
Since we do not serve food, per state law, we must be a private bar* in which you must pay an annual membership. We charge $1 and your membership will last from date of purchase until 30 December of the year you purchased the membership. View the membership rules.
*In the fall of 2018, the North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation amending the definition of private clubs and creating private bars as a new type of establishment that may hold ABC permits. The update is N.C. Gen. Stat. 18B-1000(4)(a) which now defines Off the Wagon as a private bar. Previous definitions had Off the Wagon categorized as a private club.
Why are you a bottle shop?
Because we have to be in order to be open in this COVID-19 world we are currently living in. The North Carolina Governor will not let private bars* be open but if you stop selling liquor, you can magically be open and be safe from the virus. We have no liquor on premise. According to the dipshit of a governor, it's science and data. After being closed for 270 days, we will do anything to stop the financial bleeding. Being a bottle shop allows us to have a 50% indoor capacity. All state and CDC COVID-19 guidelines will be followed to ensure our customers remain safe. Some of our prices have increased and that is out of our control. We can't wait until the pandemic is over and we can get back to our normal prices. We had to also include an extra $1 per group for COVID cleaing products. We have to clean more and this helps us pay for that costs. Thank you for understanding. We do have a membership policy similar to when we were a private bar and that policy can be viewed by clicking HERE.
We are running a skeleton crew because, well, we are making skeleton money.
*If we remained a private bar and had liquor, we could only be open with customers outdoors only. If the city let us use the sidewalk, our occupancy would be 7 people. Outside. In the cold. Can't see the show. Can't hear the show. And can go to any other type of bar downtown and walk right in. There are over 6,000 bars open in the state, but our asshole of a governor shutdown or greatly reduced the occupancy of the only business in the state that has built in contract tracing. What a dumbass!
Are there benefits to being a member at Off the Wagon?
Once you are a card carrying member, every Friday is member appreciation night! All members who present their card to the host staff will pay only $1 cover.
Can customers come in that are under 21?
No. We are a bar that serves alcohol to those of legal drinking age. There is no exception to this.
Is there a dress code?
We expect you to wear clothes and shoes.
What are your hours?
Wednesday through Sunday, opening at 7pm EST.
Friday and Saturday from 5pm to 9pm EST. There is currently a state mandated alcohol curfew of 9pm EST in accordance with Executive Order 181 and our doors must be closed by 10pm EST.
What are your liquor pours?
Our standard pour of liquor is 1.5oz. Our shots are 1.5oz. We pour true doubles so if you request a double, it is 3oz of liquor at double the cost. A rocks pour is an additional 0.25oz of liquor for $1.25 more (please do not confuse this with "on the rocks," which is your choice of liquor over ice and is not charged). A neat pour depends on what is being ordered (i.e. a Woodford Reserve, neat, will get another 0.25oz for a $1.25 upcharge but an Old Crow, neat, will be poured as a standard shot).
What time do your piano shows start?
They begin at 9pm on Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, the show begins at 8pm. The show will last as long as the crowd is rocking or until the duelers lose their voices. Sunday and Wednesday is a single piano show, which is a more intimate affair with a lot more personal interaction between the piano player and song requester from the audience. On Thursday through Saturday is our electrifying dueling piano show and just like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get!
They will begin as soon as we open. Friday and Saturdays beginning at 5pm and will last until 9pm EST. By Executive Order 181, our doors must be closed by 10pm EST.
Is there a cover charge?
We charge a cover on Friday and Saturday nights for entry into Off the Wagon. This cost goes to help cover the cost of our dueling pianist and any other acts we may bring in. You can pay the cover with cash or with a credit/debit card. The cover guarantees you entry, not seating.
For the best opportunity at seating, see reservations. When the host works on the weekend, you also have the option to take care of the membership cost while you are entering Off the Wagon.
We had to increase our cover charge since we have been closed for 270 days as of this writing plus only having the oppourtunity to be open for four hours, eight hours total each week.
May I make a reservation?
Yes, you may and it is encouraged for groups of six or more for Friday and Saturday! Our reservations are pre-paid and non-refundable. Although it is not refundable, we will change reservation dates if you need to cancel. Our reservation is $5/head and those who arrive before showtime (8pm on Friday and Saturday) will have their choice of seating. Those who arrive after showtime will get the best available. If your group arrives after 9pm, seating is not guaranteed but entry is. Please note, reservations may be cheaper than the cover charge.
Since we do not serve food, the State law makes us be a private bar and one person of your group must be a member. If no one is currently a member, you can take care of this during your visit to Off the Wagon by paying $1 and filling out a membership form. Once you get here, the host staff will have your receipt and membership card. The best time to call is between 6-8pm before we start getting busy. If you leave a message, we will return your call in the order the message was received. So, give us a call at 828-785-1390 to setup your reservation today!
I called this morning to make a reservation and no one was there. Why?
Well, we are a bar and our intention is to have our customers fall off the wagon late into the night. We leave here very late and usually don't come back until the early evening. Your best bet is to call us between 6pm and 8pm, Wednesday-Saturday. If you leave us a message, we will return your message as soon as we get in.
I'm thinking about having an event at Off the Wagon, what is your floor plan?
Click here to view our floor plan.
Are you open on New Years Eve?
ALWAYS! Even if a blizzard comes, the zombie apocalypse, or a nuclear holocaust occurs; we will be open! It is our biggest night of the year and our anniversary and we look forward to this special evening every night of the year. THIS INCLUDES COVID-19!
Are you military/first responder friendly?
As a veteran owned business, you bet we are! All military (including reservisits, guard, and retired) and first responders (police, firefighters, paramedics) who show their ID will get in free on weekends! We thank you for what you do!
Do you offer any discounts for poor college students?
College students with their ID will get in for $1 on Friday nights!
Are there other ways to receive free entry?
Take the Haunted Asheville tour and bring or show your email confirmation to receive free admission. Unofficially, If you happen to have a jar of Nutella and present that to the host staff, you might receive free admission!
What methods of payment do you take?
We take American Express, Mastercard, Visa, Discover, and cash. For private events, we will take checks. Effective 10 May 2017, we do NOT take gift cards due to people overspending what they have on the cards and walking out on their tabs forcing us to eat the cost.
Can you make change for large bills?
Unfortunately, we cannot. We can't make change for $50 and $100 bills because our cash drawers can't support it. However, if you have a tab and need to pay with a large bill, we can accommodate this if the tab is close enough to the $50 or $100 bill.
Is there a minimum tab amount if you're paying by card?
There is a $5 minimum amount before tip.
Is there an auto gratuity added for groups?
We add 20% gratuity for groups of six or more. Our hard working staff will take care of you and ensure you have a good time. They deserve it!
What if I leave my tab open at Off the Wagon?
We will close out your tab and you will be subject to 20% gratuity.
What if I leave something at Off the Wagon?
Call us to coordinate a time to pick it up but keep in mind, we won't be back to the bar until the following evening. If you leave a debit/credit card, we will hold onto it for one week and then it will be shredded. If you need something mailed to you, we will mail it after collecting payment for flat rate priority shipping and we will NOT do CoD (collect on delivery).
What is this about your quarter system when paying cash for drinks?
We round up or down to the nearest quarter because we only have quarters in our drawer. As examples: if your drink costs $4.03, we will collect $4 and if your drink cost $7.21, we will charge you $7.25.
Do you have an ATM?
Yes we do. It is located beside a column close to the front of the building.
What are Wagon Dollars?
If you need cash to tip the piano players and don't want to pull from the ATM, or your card is already at the bar, you can pull out Wagon Dollars in increments of $5s to be used to tip the piano players only. Just like an ATM, there is a service charge for this.
What is your refund policy on song requests?
We give refunds to any songs we don't know or can't play for any requests over $1. We will announce what song and ask the requester to come up and get thier money or they will have credit and can request another song.
Why are your tables in long rows?
We utilize community tables to encourage interaction with the show, the piano players, as well as other customers to maximize the opportunity for fun!
On some nights why is one of the sections a bar service section with no table service?
Our Fridays aren't as busy as Saturdays so we run one less server. In doing so, we give that section to the bartenders so they can have an opportunity to earn more. This section is located along the wall on the east side of the building. If we have a bar service section on a Saturday, it is because a server called out and the servers that are there will not be able to cover that section due to our high volume.
Why do you require all Jet Fuel shots be taken only at the bar?
These shots are served in authentic 30mm shells fired from the mighty GAU-8 Avenger which is onboard the Air Force's A-10 Thunderbolt II, affectionately known as the "Warthog." These shells are not easy to come by and we want to make sure they stay in their rightful home at Off the Wagon.
Why did your occupancy begin at 700, then reduced to only 99, then raised to 160, and then increased to 236?
Well, it's a long story and we will leave it at that. We are very happy to be able to entertain more people!
And back down to 118 due to COVID-19 requriments set forth by the state.
What is meant by "off the wagon?"
The “wagon” in this expression refers to the water wagons used to sprinkle water on the streets to keep the dust down. During the times of Prohibition in the 19th century, men often climbed onto these wagons and took an oath they would give up alcohol and drink only water. This gave rise to the expression “to be on the water cart/wagon;” It was later shortened to “on the wagon.”
When these individuals broke their pledge and started hitting the bottle again, they were said to have “fallen off the wagon.”
We love it when our customers fall “off the wagon!”
Do you have parking?
Yes! The lots between the old Vincenzo's building and us are available to us after 5pm, daily. Make sure you get a parking pass from us on the weekends so you don't get towed! There is also street parking and nearby parking garages.
How come you don't serve free tap water?
We are a bar called "Off the Wagon." This is a drinking bar! If you need water, we will sell you bottled water for $2.
May we do karaoke with the piano players?
That's not what we do here at Off the Wagon. We pay our duelers to perform for you! You get to sit back with good company, drink, and sing along! The more you drink, the better they sound!
May we play your piano or your drums?
Absolutely not. Would you go to a concert and come up on the stage and ask to play the band's instruments?
If I'm easily offended, will I enjoy Off the Wagon?
We are unapologetically politically incorrect so probably not. We are not a "safe space." We poke fun at everyone and everything.
What is the bonus plan portion I see when I login to my member profile?
We don't know! That is something our point of sale company will not remove. We apologize for any confusion.
Do you have any specials throughout the week?
We sure do! Each night of the week is a different drink special. Thursday nights we have two drink specials and Sunday nights we have five drink specials! In addition, Friday nights are member appreciation nights. Check one of our social media sites to stay up to date! We are the best place to visit for Nightlife in Asheville, NC.
Is Off the Wagon a chain or franchise?
No. Off the Wagon was born in Asheville and is being raised right here in the "Land of the Sky!"
We loved our experience at Off the Wagon! Do you sell merchandise?
You bet we do! Check out our online store or come in to the Wagon for a visit. We would love to get you in some Off the Wagon swag!
Your heritage wall is awesome! Where did you find all those pictures?
We spent hours of research in the North Carolina Collection at Pack Library and Special Collections and the University Archives in the D.H. Ramsey Library at the University of North Carolina Asheville to show off some of Asheville's proud past. It was worth it!
Why does your North Wall, aka the Heritage Wall, have "Tire Co." written on it?
We discovered this historic advertisement when restoring the wall. We brought it back to life and our research uncovered that in 1919, on the other side, was the MacArthur Tire Company. They became the WNC-East Tennessee Distributor for Goodyear tires. We honor their contribution to the great city of Asheville!
Your building is very old. Is it haunted?
Our building was built in the early 1920s and was the original Asheville Chamber of Commerce. Getting back to your question, yes, we do have a friendly ghost that we have affectionately named, Frank. We even made a drink to honor his presense, the Fearsome Frank.
On 5 March 2019, a ten hour ghost investigation was conducted at Off the Wagon led by M & D Paranormal and Cryptid Research, LLC along with CreepGeeks. The investigaiton confirmed our place is haunted by numerous entities. Ask us about our experiences!
Do you host private and corporate parties?
Yes and we would love to provide this for you. For more information on this, please send your request to email@example.com.
Do you have bachelor/bachelorette party packages?
We sure do! We will ensure your special night is unforgettable with a reserved section, complimentary Off the Wagon shot glasses, and more! Submit your requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.
May we hire your pianists for off-site functions?
You most certainly may! Please send your request to email@example.com.