By Emma Castleberry
One of Asheville’s newest restaurants, Futo Buta, has made art a central component of its interior design. Chef owner Michael Shortino opened the flagship Futo Buta restaurant in Charlotte five years ago. The third-generation chef says bringing his ramen concept to Asheville was a homecoming. “Everything that I was making in Charlotte, I sourced from Asheville, so really I am just bringing Futo Buta home,” he says. The namesake ingredient, futo buta or “fat pig,” has always been sourced exclusively from Hickory Nut Gap Farm in Fairview. The restaurant also uses signature clay bowls handcrafted by Bakersville potter William Baker.
Futo Buta also sources its beer within North Carolina. The Asheville ramen shop is the first satellite bar for Charlotte-based Resident Culture Brewing Company. Maryssa Pickett is the in-house illustrator for Resident Culture and she completed one of the interior murals at the Asheville Futo Buta location. “Going into this, I knew I had to represent Resident Culture’s voice and I really wanted to approach it so that Futo Buta was tied into the design and it felt unified,” she says. “I wanted to create something that was not only on brand but new—something that really looked like it belonged in Futo Buta’s space as well.” Pickett created a colorful and wild depiction of what would happen if you “added legs, a face, a cowboy, and fear” to the “divine and flawless form of the noodle.” The five-day process of painting the mural in the new space was organic. “At a certain point I moved away from what I had planned and let it come together naturally,” Pickett says. Pickett says the mural’s purpose is to create “a fun narrative to the partnership of brands who both carry such an amazing creative energy.”
The anime-inspired art continues on an adjoining wall with a mural by Charlotte artists Matt Moore and Matt Hooker, sometimes known as “The Matts.” The pair did extensive work in the restaurant’s dining room with a wild rock-n-roll theme, featuring a flying pig, lightning bolts, Kurt Cobain and Godzilla. Asheville duo Jeremy Russell and Scott Allred of Brushcan Murals, are responsible for the noodle-drunk pig on the building’s exterior. The team has completed murals at several iconic Asheville locations, including Hunter Banks Company, Asheville Pizza and Brewing and Youngblood Bicycles. The pig has become a sort of mascot for Futo Buta and Shortino wanted it changed slightly for the Asheville location. “The pig had been painted at their Charlotte location, but it was sitting upright,” says Allred. “I re-drew it lying down and added the wooden planks in the background to add some warmth to the white building.”
“What I love about ramen,” says Shortino, “is the same thing that I love about the Japanese culture itself. It’s their traditions and their level of integrity for everything that they do.” That philosophy extends onto Futo Buta’s walls, too.
Futo Buta is located at 121 Biltmore Avenue in Asheville. For more information, visit FutoButa.com. Find the artists on Instagram @spudcowboy (Pickett), @ puckmcgruff (Moore), @hookermedia (Hooker); or at BrushcanMurals.com.