Park Cafe's final dinner service will be June 24.
If there was ever a local restaurant with loyal regulars, Park Cafe
(730 Rutledge Ave.) is it. Stop by before 9 a.m. and you'll see the bar stools seated with the same people who join each other every morning, shooting the breeze and catching up on the day's news over cappuccinos and the Cafe's beloved avocado toast. Roll in around lunch a few days a week, and you'll likely catch familiar faces munching on smoked chicken salad and honey poached turkey. Not surprisingly, happy hour is the exact same. Regulars have designated seats they grab at the bar for pre-dinner drinks that many enjoy there multiple nights a week. So if you're one of those regulars, you might want to sit down to read this next part: Park Cafe is no longer going to offer dinner.
Mushroom Banh Mi
"After three years, we've just realized that our business is really breakfast and lunch," says Xan McLaughlin, Park Cafe's operating partner. While the Wagener Terrace and North Central neighborhoods make up the bulk of Park Cafe's patrons, McLauglin thinks that many still associate a big dinner out with King Street, which may have hurt the cafe's dinner numbers over the years. McLaughlin adds that he knows the news will make some people sad, but he reassures Park Cafe's loyal followers that their favorite local hangout isn't going anywhere. There will, however, be some additional changes.
For one, McLaughlin is going back into the kitchen where he'll join new Executive Chef Pat Gottschall, who has been with the Park Cafe’s kitchen staff since it opened. After years of working the business end of things, McLaughlin is excited to return to his cooking roots.
Another change — without dinner service, wine director Michael Morris is also leaving the property. On the flipside, McLaughlin says the new hours (Mon.-Fri., 7 a.m.-3 p.m.;
Sat. and Sun., 9 a.m.-3 p.m.) open up opportunities for Park Cafe. "We're going to be available for a lot more events now," he says. Without dinner service he adds that the restaurant can now do more wedding rehearsal dinners and parties with the addition of a tent in the cafe's parking lot.
Park Cafe will also continue its monthly Neighborhood Dinners with the next one slated for August.
"Those are served family style and will happen once a month," says McLaughlin. "They'll be three-courses and people will be able to start making reservations about a month in advance." To begin, the Neighborhood Dinners will largely feature old favorites from Park Cafe's past menus, then ease into a variety of meals — for example a Lowcountry boil in the fall. "We'll mix it up," McLauglin adds.
Park Cafe's final dinner will be served on June 24.