When a restaurant only has 900 square feet to entertain diners, and that includes the kitchen, every interior design decision must be strategic. When Neighborhood Dining Group president David Howard and chef Sean Brock set to recreate the former Minero space at 155 E Bay St. into the next iteration of the highly lauded McCrady’s, they had a lot to think about. “We had to do a lot with a small space,” says Howard. “We needed to be able to execute the culinary vision and have all the tools for the serving experience.”
“We thought about the concept and what we wanted the experience to be like,” he goes on, “We didn’t want to make it unnecessarily formal, which is why we don’t have white table clothes. We were transforming from the original McCrady’s, which was a quiet dining experience, and we knew we wanted to lighten the experience.”
The tasting menu restaurant (and winner of Eater’s Design of the Year) became a combination of classic Charleston with contemporary components
Howard mentions that the centuries-old bricks bring in an old world charm, “It’s like art in itself,” he says, “We did nothing to that.” The modern comes in with the shimmering glass tiles in the open kitchen and the walnut tasting counter inlaid with a stream of tin. The shining metal in the wood looks like a river flowing over land.
Howard worked with custom metal and woodworking studio Reclaimed by Demant in Atlanta to perfect the counter. The counter doubles as a cabinet to hold all the tools needed for dinner service — utensils, multiple wine and cocktail glasses, and other surprises for throughout the meal, like a place setting for iPhones.
Many of the mechanics of the restaurant, which many establishments hide away, are in full view to the diners. Except for one. There needs to be plating and stemware for 10 to 14 courses, which presents the challenge of used dishes — how do they wash all of those? “We actually ended up using the elevator behind the kitchen. There’s a dish rack in there and those get washed on the second floor and those get circulated back to us,” says Howard, “That was one of the hardest challenges we had.” Guests don’t even notice.
But, that’s what makes for seamless service, when the patrons don’t see the strings to the magic happening before them.
McCrady’s opens Wednesday through Sunday for dinner service.
• Everything You Need to Know About the New McCrady’s [ECHS]
• Charleston’s Eater Awards Winners 2017 [ECHS]
• Reclaimed by Demant [Official]
• McCrady’s [Official]