Three Charleston-area restaurants that announced closings in January and why we'll miss them

Winter in my heart

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Wintertime in Charleston often means a lull in the restaurant world, with tourist season traditionally (unofficially) kicking back into full swing SEWE weekend. From Jan. 1 through mid-February, hospitality folks, especially the ones who live off tips, stick to a "rice and beans" diet, pinching pennies, and picking up shifts until the tables start turning again.

In the semi-quiet of late winter/early spring, spaces open and close with a whisper, avoiding the big splash of busy season. January 2019 was no different, and rang the death knell for three area restaurants — Craftsmen Kitchen & Taphouse downtown, Congress in Mt. Pleasant, and Baker & The Farmer on Johns Island.

Downtown

Craftsmen posted on Facebook Jan. 11 "it brings us great sadness to inform you that Craftsmen Kitchen & Taphouse is shutting its doors for good. We poured our hearts into this project, in order to achieve our goal being one of the preeminent beer bars in the U.S. However, the economic realities have slowly set the pace for our future..."

What we'll miss: The Cumberland Street beer haven opened in early summer 2012, and boasted nearly 50 taps, with one bar devoted solely to IPAs. Their food menu (which appealed to both voracious appetites and light lunches, FTR) leaned toward elevated bar bites, and the service/discounts they offered industry folks was always above and beyond. Is an East Bay revitalization in the cards with growing pains part of the process? Were the cicerone-certified beer servers too West Coast for Rainbow Row? We may never know, but we do know we'll miss that place.

Mt. Pleasant

Congress co-owner Adrienne Ciaburri sent out a message that the restaurant would officially be closing this Sat. Feb. 2. She writes, "Chef Mark Ciaburri and I would like to share the news that our restaurant Congress will be closing after our last service on Saturday, February 2nd, as we celebrate our 3rd anniversary in business. We are moving on to some fun adventures, including local pop-ups and events showcasing Mark's fantastic Mexican flavors, and we hope to have a new location to serve Mark's delicious food in the near future .... We are local, and we will stay local."



What we'll miss: Lone Star state couple Mark and Adrienne Ciaburri took over the former La Ha joint in February 2016, naming the Italian/Mexican/Lowcountry/Texan concept after "Congress Street in Austin, Texas, where Mark and Adrienne worked, met, fell in love, got engaged, and carved out their dreams. So Congress is a love story." At the time, food critic Allston McCrady described Congress as "novel, polished, interesting." She lauded the "dreamily fluffy gnocchi" and "perfectly grilled flour tortillas and seasonal catch."

Mt. Pleasant strip malls are typically anathema to, ahem, anyone who doesn't live East of the Cooper, so we hope the love story continues — perhaps on the other side of the Ravenel.

Johns Island

Baker & The Farmer, which took over the former Meathouse spot in the summer of 2017, announced on social media that "despite our best efforts to avert this circumstance we are devastated to announce that against our wishes we must close our doors Thursday January 31st."

What we'll miss: Serving breakfast sandwiches, pastries, and home-made ice cream, Baker & The Farmer was a boon for Johns Islanders seeking BEC and an after dinner treat. It was a tough spot, though, tucked back off the main drag with no indoor seating and just a smattering of picnic tables for those choosing to dine in. Here's hoping that salted caramel ice cream and fat slices of carrot cake pops up somewhere else soon.

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