Last week, Smoke BBQ posted on their Facebook
that they were closed indefinitely.
Smoke BBQ owner Roland Feldman told us that he couldn't "give any comment on the situation" other than, "We have really enjoyed serving Charleston the past four-and-a-half years on King Street. We are definitely taking the opportunity to grow into a larger, more suitable space in the new year. Rent has gotten really high on Upper King ... having 40 seats on King Street has been amazing, at the same time a business has to make money."
Feldman isn't the only business owner who has noticed, and been affected, by the rising cost of rent on this stretch of King.
In March, we chatted with a handful of restaurateurs about how they manage to run a successful operation when rents have sky rocketed to figures like $18,000 a month for owners like Steve Palmer. Henry Eang, owner of longtime King Street staple, Basil Thai Restaurant, said that when his lease renewal is up, "it's a difficult decision to make. I haven't made up my mind if I'm going to stick around or leave."
While most restaurant owners we spoke with said they were on five-year leases (or longer), Feldman says Smoke was on a month-to-month lease. He says that the monthly rent was not $18,000 but "it was climbing into that range."
The 487 King St. space is pretty tiny compared to many of its restaurant and retail neighbors — they only had 40 seats. Feldman says he's actively looking for a new restaurant space, beyond King, maybe to Park Circle, which he says is the "new cool restaurant hot spot." Until then, he says look for Smoke BBQ pop-up events around town "with some really cool chefs," and you can always hire Smoke to cater your next event.
"People just assume restaurant owners are millionaires," laughs Feldman. "It's a tough game, but we love it."