Hurricane Ian, the first hurricane to make landfall in South Carolina since Matthew in 2016, left restaurants in the Charleston area largely unscathed. Most people, including those in flood-prone areas, were able to reopen as early as October. 1.
Little Line Kitchen & Provisions in downtown Charleston at 176 Line St. reopens for breakfast in October. Line 1, after only 12 hours, much of Line Street marked by President Street and Ashley Avenue was flooded.
The West End day restaurant did not see any visible damage, owner Wendy Graham said, although she reported drainage issues that could be related to flooding later in the day.
Less than 24 hours after Ian passed through Charleston, other Peninsula restaurants resumed normal service.
Daps Breakfast & Imbibe, just a short walk from the Little Line, reopened the morning after the storm.
As a precaution, staff outside Melfi’s removed the restaurant’s sign and returned it to its normal hanging position. Co-owner Brooks Reitz said the restaurant was not harmed.
Huger Street, another inner-city freeway, found itself underwater on September 9. 30, but that didn’t stop Renzo, 384 Huger St. and Berkeley’s at the corner of Huger Street and Rutledge Avenue from reopening the next day.
Several bars and restaurants in the Charleston area decided to stay open during the storm, including Frannie & The Fox, Kwei Fei, Stems & Skins, Share House and Blind Tiger.
Matthew Conway, who co-owns The Tippling House bar with his wife Carissa, said he never considered closing. The couple lived within walking distance of the bar with chef Sean Clinton of The Tippling House, so Conway knew he could operate without endangering his staff.
“It was our biggest night of food sales to date,” said Conway, who eventually had to start turning away people at the end of the night. “In my career, I’ve found that those nights are nights where you can really connect with the community. It’s just the camaraderie between you and the people who come in that night.”
Chef and restaurateur Nico Romo hopes to provide the same vibe to his customers at his new Somerville restaurant, Laura. But shortly after bringing his kitchen staff in in the morning, he decided to close Laura along with two of his other restaurants – NICO Oysters + Seafood in Mount Pleasant and Bistronomy By Nico Downtown.
“I didn’t know Somerville either, I didn’t expect them to get flooded,” Romo said.
It may only be one night, but for Romo and other Charleston restaurateurs, the decision to close on Friday is a big one. Especially those who rely on local seafood (NICO) and homemade pasta (Laura).
“You don’t want to waste any product, and the product already exists,” Romo said. “You have to be as open as possible.”
The hardest hit among Romo restaurants is Bistronomy, which is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
“So now (for) a five-day week, I’ve only been able to get three days of sales,” said Romo, who said he knew it could be worse. “You have to always see the positive. In some ways, we risk living on the coast.”