In Charleston, 2017 was the year of expansions and numerous newcomers. Big new openings splashed onto the scene in bold ways, bringing color and light and lots of fanfare to diners across the city. Whether it’s tacos from a boldly renovated pizza dive or a downtown tiki hut, 2017 pulled out all the stops. Here’s a handful of the most stunning bits of restaurant design work to come alive in 2017.
When a restaurant only has 900 square feet to entertain guests and include the kitchen, every interior design decision must be strategic. McCrady’s makes the best use of the small East Bay Street space with flawless design. A combination of classic Charleston elements with contemporary components make the perfect backdrop for Sean Brock’s tasting menu.
It’s all pink at sleek newcomer Tu. The interiors and food are every bit as funky as co-owner Duolan Li’s DJ alter ego Auntie Ayi. The restaurant is housed in two contrasting buildings at 430 Meeting St. with two separate vibes. The discreet main entrance feeds into a new modern space with a bright dining room, small bar, and outdoor patio. Walk next door into the first floor of a historic Charleston home, and patrons will find a private room to the left and a dark, intimate dining area to the right.
Wine bar Vintage Lounge erases all memory of the previous tenants Torch. The stunning new space is gilded with gold and marble. It feels like a hidden hideout from the bygone days of Hollywood glamour or Frank Sinatra’s New York.
South Seas Tiki Bar
Fans of Polynesian kitsch feel right at home at South Seas Tiki Bar. Bamboo covers the walls, tiki drinks come in whimsical cups, and there’s plenty of hula skirts to go around.
When entrepreneurs Ben and Kate Towill and their team at design group Basic Projects showed transformed the former Andolini’s Pizza space at 82 Wentworth St. into stunning restaurant Basic Kitchen, everyone’s jaw dropped. The interiors are bright and inviting with pops of green from plants and artwork. It’s an Instagrammer’s dream come true.
Longtime Charleston chef John Zucker (Cru Cafe and Catering) took over the building at 237 Fishburne St. to open neighborhood bistro Purlieu. Zucker did most of the work himself, with input from his mother Terry, who is an interior decorator. It’s like being whisked away to a Parisian cafe.
Pancito & Lefty
When Mexican eatery Pancito & Lefty opened, all the cool kids flocked to the North Central location to Instagram from the hip and bold interiors. The restaurant worked with Betsy B. Interiors to renovate the former Zappo’s pizza parlor. The changes included white-washed walls, pops of neon, and wicker lamp shades to equal an island cantina right off of King Street.
Beloved cheese shop goat.sheep.cow expanded with a new store/restaurant in the NoMo neighborhood. Co-owners Trudi Wagner and Patty Floersheimer transformed the 804 Meeting St. address into a European vacation, full of red leather banquettes and gilded picture frames. It feels like the perfect place to sip a glass of wine in the late afternoon while sharing a well-curated cheese plate.
Parisian cafe Felix offers a bright and elegant restaurant anchored by a rounded 18-seat bar. Pops of cobalt blue make the 51-seat dining room come alive. Antique mirrors give the room old-world charm.