Friday, August 1, 2014
Toast has opened a new location at 717 Trolley Road in Summerville.
The popular Charleston eatery, part of the Charleston Hospitality Group, joins a number of other national and regional restaurants looking to establish a presence in the Summerville area. Thus far, at least five restaurants with ties or origins in the Charleston peninsula area have opened or have announced plans to open locations here within recent months, including Toast, Graze, Mellow Mushroom, Triangle Char and Bar, and Carolina Ale House — and more are expected to follow.
Thursday, Chicken Salad Chick, a fast-casual restaurant that started in Auburn, Ala., announced plans to open its first Charleston-area restaurant in Azalea Square.
It is difficult to tell whether the surge of new restaurants is a new trend, a resurgence, or a validation of a vibrant but largely off-the-radar local foodie scene.
In fact, a number of restaurants have been going strong for many years, including Eva’s (70 years), Continental Corner (40 years), Oscar’s (30), Alex’s (40 years), and others.
Whatever the case may be, it is an exciting time for Summerville and Dorchester County, say economic development officials and restaurateurs.
“I think they are starting to see just how many people are here in the Summerville area alone — that Summerville address covers a lot of area,” noted Jan Hursey, executive director of Summerville DREAM. “I think we’re back in a good phase. People are starting to realize we’re here and we’re not very far off — we’re just 20 minutes from downtown Charleston — and I’m sure some of these restaurants are polling their customers and discovering that many of them are from here.”
“Restaurant activity overall is picking up and we’re excited about that,” said Rita Berry, president and CEO of the Greater Summerville/Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce. “It’s really neat to see these types of restaurants coming here. It’s probably not attributable to one specific thing, but overall, I think we’ve created a very positive energy.”
Chamber Tourism Director Tina Zimmerman said she believes the chamber has been very successful in promoting Summerville as a destination for many activities. Such efforts as promoting Summerville’s connection to the tea industry as the birthplace of sweet tea, for example, have not only contributed to unique aspects of the community’s character and history, but have created opportunities for many businesses to become involved. The tea plantation connection has been one such effort that has reaped major benefits, not only in the historical aspect but in the versatility of it — many businesses have been able to become involved through that connection, she said.
Sip and Savor Summerville is an effort aimed at getting the word to people that one does not need to leave Summerville to find great food and drink, Zimmerman said. “We have all these great places and great amenities — our downtown area is a prime example — but it just didn’t seem like people knew about it,” she said. “And yet, when the Mellow Mushroom opened, the Summerville opening was their biggest ever.”
“On the other hand, when you can have a business like Eva’s, for example, that has been going for 70 years, that’s pretty amazing,” she said. “So I think people are seeing that Summerville can and would support the restaurants.”
Toast of Summerville has been open since April, and thus far is doing well, Corporate Manager Alexis McDaniel said.
“We are definitely seeing a lot of regular customers coming in — individuals and groups — returning week after week, so the word is definitely getting out about us,” McDaniel said. “Weekends have been just crazy busy here.”
The menu at Toast of Summerville reflects the same specialties served at its downtown location, McDaniel said. Brunch entrees include Eggs Meeting Street served with a pan-seared crab cake atop a homemade buttermilk biscuit and the Deluxe French Toast stuffed with warm cinnamon apples or peaches. Signature drinks include the Bacon Bloody Mary cocktail or a carafe of fresh mimosas for the table.
“We are thrilled at the success of Toast and excited to bring the same delicious offerings into the charming city of Summerville for the first time,” Charleston Hospitality Group Founder Sam Mustafa said. “Toast of Summerville is the premier restaurant for families and friends to venture for an exceptional southern brunch or dinner at an affordable price.”
Toast of Summerville is open every day at 7 a.m. Seating is generally first-come, first-serve, although the restaurant does take reservations for dinner. The restaurant also does catering and box lunch delivery.