11 Center Street Flips
First he "flipped" his James Island Charleston Crab House location, with the help of old buddy Richard Davis of Trademark Properties and the TV show Flip This House. Now he's invading Folly Beach with a whole new concept. Crab House owner John Keener will be turning the former 11 Center Street location, smack dab in the heart of Folly — where you can hear the ocean if you can't actually see it — into Conch, an island-influenced seafood restaurant. "We're gonna do a margarita bar upstairs and have dishes like conch fritters and ceviche," says Keener, who's had this concept in his mind for 15 years. "I started drawing up the menu about five years ago, waiting for the right spot. When this presented itself, I said, that's it, right there." They're currently revamping the space and plan to open in March. As for the upside down crab sign at his James Island restaurant? Keener says they won't be flipping it back around any time soon. "We had a record year, a giant year. National publicity never hurts." —Stephanie Barna
The Mellow Mushroom's parking variance was denied by the Board of Zoning Appeals last Tuesday night, preventing the popular pizza joint from expanding its business with a rooftop deck. At the same meeting, interestingly enough, Monza was approved for a similar variance for its own outdoor project. —Stephanie Barna
Give Me Liberty, or Give Me ... Beer?
The TBonz Restaurant Group is busy expanding and revising its current local offerings. The Mt. Pleasant TBonz will be transforming into the Liberty Taproom & Grill beginning in February. According to a press release, "The concept centers on celebrating the American farmer and the rich bounty they put on our tables. It is a celebration of America's melting pot of rich ethnic cooking styles and innovative handcrafted small batch breweries. A celebration of life, family and the pursuit of happiness." Sounds like they'll still be brewing beer in that location — a smart move considering the renewed interest in small batch brews around here. We've also been hearing rumblings about a new Pearlz somewhere in West Ashley, but haven't been able to get details confirmed. We'll let you know as soon as we do. Read our Eat blog at cuisine.ccpblogs.com. —Stephanie Barna
A new little bakery on Cannon Street quietly opened back in November and has begun satisfying in-the-know sweet tooths. A couple dozen brownies were ordered for a co-worker's fifth anniversary celebration a few weeks back, and those cute little confections were gobbled up in minutes by a moaning, groaning City Paper staff. Sugar owners Bill Bowick and partner David Bouffard moved down from New York City a couple years ago and recently found the perfect location, between Hominy Grill and Five Loaves Cafe on Cannon Street. They renovated the space — easy for them since they're both architects — and saved the old Whaley's Vegetable Stand, transforming it into the cutest little bakery you've ever seen. Bill, the baker of the two, says his specialties are cookies, cupcakes, and tarts and is most excited about his Lady Baltimore cupcake, an old-fashioned treat that Charlestonians should be familiar with since it originated here a couple centuries ago. Stop by and get yourself a glazed sugar cookie next time you're in the neighborhood. They're open Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Feel free to bring the pup — they've got dog biscuits too. —Stephanie Barna
Earth-friendly, organic coffee is becoming an important designation and a new café on Folly Road will feature it prominently. Kronic Coffee plans to open Thurs. Jan. 24 and serve organic coffees, espresso, and looseleaf teas. They'll have bagels, quiche, and pastries for breakfast and wraps, sandwiches, soups, and salads for lunch and dinner. Stop by and check it out. —Stephanie Barna