“Belly Up,” a new Cooking Channel show devoted to elevating the food menus of dive bars, is now scouring Charleston for makeover subjects. Presumably, Big John’s Tavern isn’t planning to apply.
Big John’s owner Ryan Condon last month tossed out tenant Cory Burke of Roti Rolls, in part because the inventive chef’s Ethiopian-influenced cooking was too far removed from the pickled eggs and coldcut sandwiches he associated with the Big John’s of his youth. But “Belly Up”’s casting director Danya Berman believes “new, innovative, enticing bar foods that won’t break the budget” can help save struggling dive bars.
“I’m super excited about the possibility of a South Carolina episode — Charleston seems to be a foodie town,” Berman writes. “Hopefully there is a dive bar that wants to remain a dive joint, but with a really delicious bar menu.” Continue reading “Cooking Channel Looks to Improve Food at Local Dive Bars” »
Taking advantage of the remaining football season, Gullah Cuisine this Saturday is celebrating the grand opening of its new sports bar.
The Mount Pleasant restaurant already had a bar, but recently remade it to emphasize spectating: According to staffer Terry Baxter, a new 40-inch television was recently installed behind the bar and another two screens are planned for the back wall.
Available bar snacks include wings and boiled shrimp, Baxter says.
For drinkers who don’t feel like ambling to what’s now the far end of trendy upper King to visit High Wire Distillery, the Cocktail Club on Oct. 23 is hosting a free launch party featuring the new operation’s vodka and rum.
In addition to spirit samples and a pair of High Wire cocktails, the event will feature meaty snacks such as bacon fat caramel popcorn and banana bread with whipped duck rillettes.
The 5:30 p.m.-8 p.m. party will run on a first-come, first-served basis. Find more information here.
Ryan Condon has repeatedly referenced his plans to remake Big John’s Tavern as the bar he remembers, but his use of the word “renovation” in an interview apparently alarmed fellow members of the tradition-minded crowd.
“We want to know what’s going to happen to the nametags,” says Scott Sutter, a 2001 Citadel graduate, who called me from Connecticut on behalf of the many classmates who’d contacted him.
The nametags, Condon confirms, are safe.
“We don’t intend on removing any memorabilia,” Condon says. “We’d like to add more to it.” Continue reading “Citadel Alums Worry About Renovation of Big John’s Tavern” »
Despite rumors which swirled after the announcement of The Green Door’s imminent closing, bar owner Ryan Condon says he’s not only keeping Big John’s Tavern open: He’s planning to return the 59-year old institution to its former status as a traditional watering hole, where the TVs tuned to football are a bigger draw than the fish head curry.
“I want to return Big John’s to what Big John’s was when I started going there,” says Condon, who started hanging out at Big John’s as a high schooler. “If Big John would ever have seen The Green Door, he would have rolled over in his grave. I don’t even know what the hell grilled kimchee is; I just want to restore Big John’s the way it was.”
Condon says he evicted The Green Door from Big John’s Tavern because the concept didn’t square with the institution he vowed to protect when he bought it from football great John Cannady in 1991. Continue reading “Big John’s Owner Wants to Restore the Big John’s of His Youth” »
Prohibition last Friday stationed an exuberant black-vested jazz combo in its doorway in a bid to lure customers to the new 1920s-themed cocktail den, which recently took over the upper King Street space previously occupied by Mercury Bar. But at least in the early evening, the room beyond the tooting musicians looked relatively staid, raising the question of whether the speakeasy trend is played out.
Probably not, says cocktail writer Jeff Berry. As the world’s foremost expert on tiki history, Berry is a scholar of themed bar culture. According to Berry, the current celebration of illicit watering holes isn’t the drinking nation’s first dalliance with the decade.
“The first Roaring Twenties revival was in the 1960s, when bars and restaurants themed themselves like speakeasies, played Dixieland Jazz, and dressed waiters in shirt garters and straw hats,” Berry says. “They had names like Sneeky Pete’s or Rod’s 1920s Roadhouse. The trend lasted about eight years, with a final shot in the arm when the Robert Redford version of The Great Gatsby hit movie screens.” Continue reading “Speakeasy Trend Isn’t Dead Yet” »