Mary Scott Hardaway
Find Big Bad Breakfast at 456 Meeting St.
If you thought Hurricane Dorian was a pain, you should really talk to Big Bad Breakfast chef/owner John Currence.
"I’m praying that it has not completely wrecked my belief system," he laughs. "It's one of those things where I finally sort of have surrendered myself. We haven't gotten a gift since we started, the hurricane, that just kicked us right there."
We're sitting at one of the booths in the freshly renovated space at 456 Meeting St., a 3,400-square-foot building formerly occupied by Simply Fashions. The interior brick walls are painted the lightest blue/green shade, with bright white and yellow "fried egg" pendant lights hanging from the ceiling. The kitchen is buzzing — pitmaster and neighbor Rodney Scott is visiting at another booth, waiting on a burger, which the kitchen is whipping up as part of their training (see the IG below). "Tell them to put mayo and ketchup on it," Currence advises.
The all-day breakfast spot was slated to open last Wednesday, but once the city shut down in advance, during, and post Dorian, their progress slowed. They're back up and running though, going through practice service runs simulating a "moderately busy weekday."
"We take an actual day from one of our other stores where we did X number of dollars in sales and then our staff basically takes the orders and go through as if they’ve taken an order from a table," says Currence. "So say, one breakfast plate with eggs over easy, grits, bacon, and wheat toast and one cheeseburger medium rare with French fries — they send the order into the kitchen and it gets assigned randomly to a table in here."
We look over at a couple of staffers packing up bags to the brim with to-go boxes. "We're just generating all this food — it hurts my heart because I hate waste, but it's the only way to do it," says Currence. The staff will take home as much of the food as they can, and Currence has made good friends with a handful of neighboring churches, who he can potentially donate some of the food to. "We will get progressively busier all week as we do this exercise over and over again until the weekend."
Starting on Saturday and running through Sunday, Currence will open the doors, inviting people in to grab a plate from "$10,000 worth of food." "We don’t have an official friends and family we tell friends, family, neighbors we will be here and it’s like the lottery — food will come out in front of you."
Mary Scott Hardaway
Artist David Boatwright reimagined the goldilocks Sunbeam girl for BBB
With Currence's five other BBB locations, they had more of an official friends and family night with sample menus. But Charleston has not been like any of his other openings, from the delays down to the design elements. They have a commissioned David Boatwright painting of an African-American girl eating a piece of bread that says, "don't eat no white bread, please." It's a reimagined Sunbeam bread logo, flipping the idea of race on its head, as well as promoting an anti-processed-foods message, says Currence.
Currence notes that this weekend they'll have the bar open, so between the money for drinks and the tips patrons give their newly trained server for whatever food lands on their table, they'll donate all the proceeds to the community, and their staff will be paid a training wage.
"By the law of statistics, if you sit long enough you'll get something you want."
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