223 St. Philip Street may look condemned, but the Downers see potential
There’s something encouraging about individuals who can look at a ramshackle building and see potential. It takes a certain amount of crazy and a handful of cash to refurbish some of the aging Charleston singles in this city. But we’ve seen it done beautifully on properties like Chez Nous
and Cru Cafe
So perhaps siblings Jill and Macready Downer have the right idea with their upcoming restaurant concept. The two are working on plans to rehab and connect two properties — a Charleston single and what appears to be the original cookhouse behind it — at 223 St. Philip St.
(just steps away from D'Allesandro's Pizza). The restaurant will be called Seed, and the Downers hope to have it open by spring.
But that’s still a BAR meeting a way. Right now Macready
, who will be Seed’s executive chef, is working as a bartender at The Grocery
. That said, the guy has his fair share of culinary experience. Prior to moving to Charleston with his digital marketer sister, he held positions as sous chef at Kevin Binkley's (a semi-finalist for the James Beard Award for Best Chef of the Southwest) Binkley’s Restaurant
in Cave Creek, AZ and worked under the famous José Andrés’ at Minibar
So how’d the two end up in Charleston? Jill says she promised her older brother that when he was ready to launch his own restaurant, she’d help him. The siblings had been looking for the right town, and after testing the waters in San Francisco, they decided about a year ago to make Macready’s dream happen in the Holy City.
A glass hyphen is planned to connect the front building with what may have been a kitchen house in back.
The plan now is to renovate the two St. Philip Street buildings with help from Stumphouse architecture
, and connect them with a glass hyphen.
“Seed will be all counter service,” says Jill. “My brother prefers to have guests seated in front of the kitchen so they can watch the food prepared.” The place will seat roughly 25 to 30 people and have a bar upstairs. As for the type of food on the menu, Jill says Macready comes from a molecular gastronomy and French cuisine background but plans to make Seed “American gourmet.” And while Macready has already started toying with menu ideas, for now the brother and sister duo are eagerly awaiting zoning approval. “I feel like we’re finally seeing the light,” says Jill. We’re glad she can see it, because to most passersby on St. Philip Street, the future home of Seed looks like the makings of a killer haunted house.