by Paul Bowers
A fire broke out around 2:45 a.m. Sunday on the outside deck of Carter's Kitchen, a restaurant in Mt. Pleasant's upscale I'On neighborhood, destroying several air conditioning units, water heaters, and a walk-in freezer. No one was hurt in the fire, and Chef Robert Carter says he plans to reopen the restaurant Jan. 8 — just in time for Charleston Restaurant Week.
Carter says the Kitchen was already sold out for a planned New Year's Eve event, and he has been calling people who made reservations and trying to send them to other local restaurants.
The fire was contained to the outside deck area, according to Leon Lantagne, operations chief for the Mt. Pleasant Fire Department. Lantagne says an investigator determined that the fire started with some sort of hot debris in a rollable recycling bin, creating enough heat to cause a nearby propane tank regulator to fail, causing a propane fire to break out.
"The cause was somebody putting something in a trash bin that they shouldn't have put in," Lantagne says.
Carter, the ex-Peninsula Grill chef who took over the former Jacob's Kitchen inside the Inn at I'On in February 2012, says a small amount of smoke entered the building, but fire sprinklers were only activated in the kitchen and there was no structural damage. He says he plans to have Carter's Kitchen back open for the beginning of Charleston Restaurant Week, which runs from Jan. 8-19. During Restaurant Week, Carter's Kitchen will feature a three-course meal for $40. Options for the main course are skillet-seared and herb-marinated New York strip, crispy-cracklin' pork osso bucco, or pistachio crumb crusted local grouper.
Carter's Kitchen was the second local restaurant to catch fire within a week. Around noon on Christmas Eve, a fire broke out in the kitchen of Anson Restaurant in downtown Charleston. Charleston Fire Department officials say the fire started in the grill area as employees were preparing a holiday dinner and moved up through a vent hood before coming out of the vent's rooftop opening. A fire department report says the fire caused flame and smoke damage in the first-floor kitchen and caused heat and smoke damage in a second-floor office area.
The owners of Anson Restaurant have not announced when they will be back open for business.