Forthcoming bar Uptown Social partner Keith Benjamin began visiting Charleston five years ago and explained to Eater that he is always looking for business opportunities when traveling. After noticing the rush of tourism in the Lowcountry coupled with the heavy foot traffic on King Street, Benjamin and partners Kara Graves and Jonathon Arzt felt that it was a great time to expand their NYC Best Bars group, which operates eight bars in Manhattan and two in Chicago. Recognizing the focus Charlestonians place on quality food and drink, the trio set out on a mission to curate a service that would fit this market.
Benjamin grew up frequenting a pizza parlor in Orange, New Jersey, called Star Tavern and wanted to make an offering reminiscent of this childhood experience. He made a connection with Anthony Falco, formerly of Roberta’s Pizza in Brooklyn, and together they explored the “bar pie” concept, which features a crunchy bite and cheese that goes to the edges of a thin crust.
Falco made this a project of his, visiting ten countries to try out different versions of the pie. Upon his return, Benjamin, Graves, and Arzt went to his apartment in Williamsburg to go through more tests and tastings. Once the product was ready, they set up a pop-up at one of their New York bars, Hair of the Dog, with Falco at the helm serving up 120 pies to customers. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and Uptown Social is excited to bring the new pizza to Charleston this spring. Two double-deck pizza ovens will crank out the pies, with the rest of the menu featuring “upscale American pub fair” and five different types of sliders.
Uptown Social aims to be that reliable neighborhood bar that will still feel intimate, despite the massive 10,000-square-foot space that it occupies. This focus extends to the beer selection, as they paired with Palmetto Brewing Company to create a session IPA that was specially made for the bar/restaurant and will only be sold there. The name for the unfiltered beer came from 1920s dance Lindy Hop. The bar will also serve ten other draft selections and several local beer options in bottles and cans.
Step inside to the 587 King St. expansive space — especially by Charleston standards — with a 60-foot bar to the left that will have large projector-style TVs showing any and every game. The trio of partners explained that there will be about 50 TVs throughout the restaurant, many of which will be labeled, so viewers know what game to expect.
Wood paneling, exposed brick walls, and a high ceiling highlight the 6,000-foot downstairs, with the newly constructed kitchen sitting in the back. Upstairs is the home to two private event spaces, each with their own bar, that are aimed at hosting the large group crowds frequently seen in the Lowcountry. Uptown Social will also boast a rooftop with several TVs and a bar with a frozen drink machine.
Food service will go until close at 2 a.m., and they will have a Monday through Friday happy hour from 4 to 8 p.m. in which the entire bar (excluding premium liquors) will be half off. A brunch service including bloody marys, mimosas, and a brunch pizza will be offered on Saturday and Sunday.
Look for this newcomer to hit Upper King street in mid-March.
• Uptown Social Tackles Charleston With 50 Televisions and Bar Pizzas [ECHS]