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The Biggest Hopes for the Carolinas Restaurant Industry in 2023

More equity and adventure

Our hopes for the Carolinas in 2023.
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Erin Perkins is the editor of Eater Carolinas.

In keeping with Eater tradition, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, and bloggers. To kick it off in the Carolinas, Eater asked the group eight questions, ranging from the restaurants they frequented for takeout to the saddest surprises of the year. Responses are in no particular order, and readers are encouraged to leave answers in the comments.

Q. What is your biggest hope for the restaurant industry in 2023?

Amethyst Ganaway, Charleston chef and food writer
More Black-owned restaurants in the Lowcountry, more diversity in cuisines, someone bring good ramen and other noodles to Charleston — PLEASE.

Eric Ginsburg, Eater Carolinas contributor, covering NC
I hope the dining public becomes more adventurous, but I fear a trend towards regional chains and comfort, especially if inflation persists. I hope people realize that any independent, local restaurant — no matter how iconic or legendary or seemingly popular — is at risk of closure if you don’t actively choose to spend your money there. And I hope the industry further prioritizes employee well-being, including pay and benefits.

Matthew Lardie, Eater Carolinas contributor, covering NC
I hope our local restaurant scenes aren’t decimated by large developers and their cookie-cutter “live, work, play” developments and that we don’t gentrify all the personality out of some of our most unique dining destinations.

Stephanie Burnette, Eater Carolinas contributor
Specific menus with informed staff that are well-paid.

Marion Sullivan, food editor Charleston Magazine
Stability, in no small amount created through sufficient staffing.

Nikki Miller-Ka, Eater Carolinas contributor, covering NC
I hope for more equitable pay and new business structures that give employees more power and opportunities to build wealth.

Hanna Raskin, editor and publisher of The Food Section
I hope more chefs and other food creators decide to step away from big bucks and cook what they want, as Matt Wallace is doing at Blacksheep in Beaufort, South Carolina. (The hard-working crew at Chasing Sage (267 Rutledge Avenue) in Charleston also deserves a shoutout on the excellence and integrity front.)

Stephanie Burt, writer and host of The Southern Fork
That we will see the disposables go back to the to-go pantry. The pandemic necessitated that move for in-person dining for many a restaurant, and the subsequent staffing shortage has provided plenty of excuses for continuing it, but I think it’s a disservice to diners as well as the planet.

I know plastic cutlery or wax-lined boxes at the table seem like something trivial to point out, but I think it points to a larger issue of the fact that we are still working to define what restaurants look like post-2020. For me, dining in a restaurant should be its own experience, and using plastic ware and eating on cardboard or styrofoam really impacts that, not to mention the environment. And while it seems that the dishwasher position is a sincere staffing crisis point for restauranteurs across the board, I have to imagine that re-ordering disposables as well as the increase in waste, which leads to added expense in dumpster services, isn’t sustainable financially either. My hope is that we can find solutions and start using those underutilized dish pits in back of house once again.

Mike Ledford, photographer and Eater Carolinas contributor
More diversity in terms of cuisine and representation. I want to see more exposure and success for minority-owned businesses out there putting their heart and soul into every meal.

Jenn Rice, Eater Carolinas contributor, covering NC
2022, compared to 2021, was very quiet. Lots of restaurant group expansions/openings, but otherwise openings were few and far between in the Triangle. I hope to see an independent restaurant boom in 2023 with more small, neighborhood spots.

Erin Perkins, editor Eater Carolinas
I hope for more minority-owned restaurants and diversity in cuisine — no more “new” menus with crispy Brussels sprouts and truffle fries.

Jason B James, photographer and Eater Carolinas contributor
Next year, I hope for more inclusion at the table and even more focus on staff experience and mental health.

Sam Slaughter, Eater Carolinas contributor
That people stop being a**holes to servers. A pipe dream, I know ...

Cele and Lynn Seldon, Seldon Ink
Similar to last year: that they manage to keep their doors open, offering civilized service from servers who want to be there and are well-paid and taken care of. And that food costs stabilize and possibly even go down.