Thanksgiving is increasingly becoming just another day in the restaurant business, as the list of Greater Charleston Restaurant Association members keeping holiday hours makes clear.
Although many of them are adjusting menus and hours for Thanksgiving, 41 restaurants were planning to open Thursday. By contrast, the group’s spokeswoman was only aware of five member restaurants shutting down for the day.
“It’s just been a tradition for us to let employees have a family day,” says Steven Jones, manager of the West Ashley Crab Shack, one of the five closed restaurants.
For 13 years, the restaurant has closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas, Jones says.
“It’s just a decision we’ve made for us,” he adds.
The Coosaw Creek Crab Shack also closes for Thanksgiving; the Folly Beach location is open. For a complete list of restaurants open for Thanksgiving, check the GCRA’s website.
Lunch shifts from Fish to Rue de Jean
One of the first restaurants to brave upper King Street is adjusting its schedule to reflect the changing character of the neighborhood.
With so many diners now flocking to the area, Fish is doing away with the lunch program it devised to draw customers who might be skittish about venturing north of Calhoun Street at night.
According to Christie Gregovich of operator Patrick Properties Hospitality Group, lunch wasn’t part of the 13-year old restaurant’s original business plan.
“The thought was really to give folks a reason to come to this side of town,” Gregovich says of the popular $10 lunch deal. “Now with the development of the neighborhood and growth in foot traffic, we can really be truer to our business model and respond to what we see as a stronger call to offer dinner service on Sundays.”
Fish will serve its final lunch on Saturday. Starting Dec. 8, the restaurant will be open 5:30-10 p.m. every day, with the bar opening at 4:30 p.m.
Downtown diners may want to transfer their noontime routines to 39 Rue de Jean, which last week started offering an $11.99 lunch special.
On weekdays, the restaurant will serve a choice of featured soup, salad or entree for the promo price. Coffee or iced tea is included, but a glass of house wine costs an extra $4.
The special runs from 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m., and the week’s menu will be posted on Rue de Jean’s social media outlets. This week, customers have their pick of the day’s soup; a mesclun salad with tomatoes and cucumbers and grilled pork tenderloin with orange marmalade and braised kale (which sounds like the surest way to get your money’s worth.)
Good Food Awards honor local products
Two Charleston products last week received recognition from the Good Food Awards, an annual competition for artisan edibles.
Cypress’ culatello (salumi made from the rear portion of a pig’s hind leg) and Christophe Artisan Chocolatier’s Dark Chocolate Espresso were both named finalists in the contest, along with another 198 items divided into categories such as beer, cheese, coffees, preserves and pickles. The list will be whittled down to 100 winners at a San Francisco gala in January.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, this year’s competition received a record 1450 entries.
Dickey’s comes to North Charleston
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit opened last week in North Charleston, offering an array of promotions. But will the restaurant serve up true Texas barbecue?
Depends on who you ask. Franchise owner Vedit Patel, who discovered Dickey’s as a University of Arizona student, has said he’s “excited about opening a Texas barbecue restaurant.” And the chain has so many fans in the Lone Star state that its exclusion from Texas Monthly’s list of top 50 BBQ joints provoked a spate of angry emails from outraged Dickey’s fans.
“We assume this is satire,” barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn wrote in his official response to the complaint. Introducing an earlier iteration of the list, the magazine’s food editor, Patricia Sharpe, dismissed Dickey’s output as “mediocre.”
Expert opinion apparently hasn’t stalled Dickey’s massive expansion. The chain now boasts 300 restaurants in 40 states, making it the biggest barbecue franchise in the world. Its menu is ostensibly Texan: The meat roster includes two sausages, chopped beef and sliced beef. And there are jalapeno beans among the sides.
Whether Dickey’s is doing justice to the Texas barbecue tradition may not matter to eaters on the receiving end of its opening deals: The first 50 dine-in customers will receive gift cards, valued at up to $50 apiece, and three customers who show up on Saturday between 1 and 3 p.m. for the $2 pulled pork sandwich promo will win a year’s worth of free barbecue.
Dickey’s is at 7620 Rivers Avenue, Suite 375. For more information, call 243-0214 or go to the restaurant’s Facebook page.
Goat barbecue at Home Team
Garden & Gun’s Jubilee festivities this weekend don’t include a Friday dinner option, but nearby Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ is hoping to lure event-goers with a collaborative smoking session.
Pitmasters from Southern Soul Barbeque on St. Simons Island are joining the Home Team crew to prepare beef barbacoa, goat tacos, goat sausage and oysters, along with a sides spread including Brussels sprouts, cornbread, lima beans and corn.
Spokeswoman Angel Postell describes the two sets of pitmasters, who first met when they partenered on the 2012 Charleston Wine + Food Festival finale, as representing “the ‘new school’ of younger pitmasters offering a fresh, creative approach to all things barbecue.” Home Team’s Aaron Siegel recently won a StarChefs.com “concept” award, which recognizes a “creative, successful chef-driven concept that could be successfully expanded.”
The Backyard BBQ, which includes music from Shrimp City Slim and cocktails from High Wire Distilling Co., runs from 7 to 9 p.m. Dec. 6. Tickets are $30, and can be purchased by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 345-9563.
More awards for local restaurants
OpenTable last week re-leased its list of U.S. restaurants specializing in American cuisine that over the last year received the highest diner scores; of the top 100 finishers, four are located in Charleston.
Charleston Grill, FIG, Peninsula Grill and Tristan were named Diners’ Choice award winners. The ratings were culled from five million reviews of 15,000 restaurants nationwide.
“We’re proud to know diners thoroughly enjoyed their experience here at Tristan,” executive chef Nate Whiting was quoted as saying in a release from the restaurant.
Other South Carolina restaurants that made the list include Sullivan’s Metropolitan Grill in Anderson; Aspen Grille in Myrtle Beach and The Parson’s Table in Little River.
FIG also was one of three local restaurants mentioned by name in Saveur’s explanation of its selection of Charleston for a Culinary Travel Award. San Sebastian, Spain, was the experts’ choice in the “outstanding restaurants and dining, cities fewer than 80,000” category, but Charleston shared runner-up honors with Lyon, France, and Bologna, Italy.
“The city boasts a dining scene that’s impossible to ignore,” an accompanying blurb explains. “Chef Sean Brock elevates South Carolina’s Caribbean- and African-inspired lowcountry fare to culinary-anthropological art at Husk, while Mike Lata of FIG and Robert Stehling of Hominy Grill reinterpret lowcountry classics in surprising new ways, while staying true to the home-cooked flavors on which the city’s palates came of age.”
Sunrise on Spring by early 2014
A four-year-old Johns Island restaurant is picking up where Austin’s Food & Drink left off, returning breakfast and lunch to the pint-sized nook at 116 Spring St.
“I don’t think she had the concept of what people wanted,” Sunrise Bistro co-owner Jessica Welenteichick says of the cafe that failed after a few short months. Welenteichick and her partners acquired the 14-seat restaurant in a turnkey deal, with plans to open Sunrise Bistro Express by early 2014.
“That lady, she was like an interior decorator wanting to go into restaurants,” Welenteichick continues. “We’ve built ourselves a reputation.”
Sunrise Bistro Express will serve a scaled-down version of the menu offered at the popular Johns Island restaurant. “Because it’s such a tiny location, and doesn’t have a hood system, we’re limited,” Welenteichick allows. But the line-up of bagels, biscuits and breakfast sandwiches will be supplemented by espresso drinks, which aren’t available at the main Sunrise Bistro.
Welenteichick says Express’ manager will daily pick-up fresh baked goods from the Bistro before opening at 7 a.m. The restaurant will be open every day but Sunday, closing at 2:30 p.m.
Sunrise Bistro is at 1797 Main Road. For more information, go to its website at sunrise-bistro.com.