CHARLESTON, SC—October 20, 2014-Limehouse Produce Company has been selected for the 2014 South Carolina Excellence Award amongst all its peers and competitors by the US Institute for Advancement of Trade & Commerce (USIATC).
Each year the USIATC conducts business surveys and industry research to identify companies that have achieved demonstrable success in their local business environment and industry category. They are recognized as having enhanced the commitment and contribution of small businesses through service to their customers and community. Small businesses of this caliber enhance the consumer driven stature that South Carolina is renowned for.
Limehouse Produce Company has consistently demonstrated a high regard for upholding business ethics and company values. This recognition by USIATC marks a significant achievement as an emerging leader within various competitors and is setting benchmarks that the industry should follow.
As part of the industry research and business surveys, various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the selected companies in each category. This research is part of an exhaustive process that encapsulates a year long immersion in the business climate of South Carolina.
The USIATC is a leading authority on researching, evaluating and recognizing companies across a wide spectrum of industries that meet its stringent standards of excellence. It has spearheaded the idea of independent enterprise and entrepreneurial growth allowing businesses of all sizes to be recognized locally and encouraged globally.
Particular emphasis is given to meeting and exceeding industry benchmarks for customer service, product quality and ethical practices. Industry leading standards and practices have been developed and implementation of the same has been pioneered by the dedicated efforts of the business community and commerce leadership.
Several months have passed since the first signs of construction appeared at 819 Coleman Boulevard in Mount Pleasant. And since then, we’ve heard rumors, followed by several articles featuring renderings of the concept to come.
Earlier this week, Eater Charleston caught up with the man behind the new project, John Adamson of The Rarebit and Big John’s, reporting that The Americano will open by the end of this month. Described as a “1940s beach bar,” The Americano will have a Latin American and Mexican menu with Cuban flavors. The photographs reveal splashes of vibrant colors against a white backdrop, contemporary furnishings, vintage touches and plenty of greenery.
The Americano could prove to be a rather unique concept to call this location home in the past two decades. Looking back through our library of old reviews, we found one for J. Bistro, along with evidence of several restaurants that have since come and gone at this spot.
In 1995, Jane Kronsberg reviewed J. Bistro, a restaurant that was previously Jimmy Lou’s. J. Bistro was described as an affordable and tasteful spot featuring traditional menu items and newer concepts, from chicken pot pie to glazed goat cheese terrine. James Burns was the chef and owner of the restaurant. Gil Schuler, a mainstay of Charleston’s design industry and good friend of Limehouse Produce, did the logo and design work.
“The entire space is a pleasure to experience,” wrote Kronsberg, ending her piece by summarizing, “J. Bistro is a comfortable, interesting restaurant with a good menu and very reasonable prices.” The establishment did well in the neighborhood for several years, but eventually would close, starting an unfortunate trend for the location during the next decade.
In 2009, Samos Taverna appeared on the scene. Offering a Mediterranean and Greek-style tapas menu, the restaurant’s cuisine was described as that of the Greek island of Samos, complete with Greek wines. Samos shuttered after about two years.
Next at 819 Colemand Boulevard came Next Door Bistro. Opening in August of 2011, Next Door was the project of executive chef and owner Ben Berryhill, who has Red Drum down the street. The Bistro was part pizza place, part Italian restaurant, and part French bistro. And just as fast as it appeared, Next Door Bistro disappeared, closing after a final night of service on October 5, 2012.
The Americano is not part Italian, not part French, nor was it a bistro or tavern. Perhaps this new concept that calls upon the nostalgia of the 40s will break the streak of turnover at this address. See the latest on The Americano here.
We hope the best to anyone who shares our love for classic convertibles!
CHARLESTON, SC – October 6, 2014 –Limehouse Produce and Clemson University created a partnership three years ago to address the obstacles facing local farms seeking GAP certification. GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) are specific methods determined by the USDA to create food for consumers that is safe and wholesome through documentation of farm procedures and traceability of the product throughout the food system. The costs associated with achieving this voluntary certification have historically been too great for businesses that already face heightened financial pressures. By streamlining the process and subsidizing the costs, Clemson and Limehouse have made it possible for smaller farms to improve their food safety. To date, the partnership has resulted in successful certification of nine farms located in Charleston County at little to no expense to the farms.
Increasingly stringent food safety oversight has led most grocery chains and distributors like Limehouse to require GAP certification from their suppliers, cutting uncertified farms off from needed revenue. Thanks to Limehouse and Clemson, local farms that previously could not afford to complete the process, now have a viable means of attaining certification, thereby opening new and larger markets for their goods. “The most significant impact of this partnership is to allow local products into hospitals, schools and grocery stores that did not previously have access to food grown in their communities,” says Andrea Limehouse.
The increased marketability of local produce at the consumer level should provide encouragement for more local farms to seek and achieve GAP certification through this program. “Research shows that shoppers are willing to pay up to 20-percent more for items that are locally produced,” said Harry Crissy, Extension Agent for Clemson University. “GAP is allowing certified local farmers to bring their products to market in new ways that derive more revenue for their businesses and strengthen our local food system. The traceability system is giving retailers and wholesalers the confidence to offer consumers the local products they demand.”
Certified Farms to date:
Farms in the process of being certified:
To learn more, visit www.limehouseproduce.com.
“Woodlands means excellence. Period.” The title of Jane Kronsberg’s 1995 review of The Woodlands Resort & Inn codified the entirety of the dining experience—the food, the ambience, and the service. The Woodlands, located in Summerville, SC, was fine dining at its best. It was recognized as such by a multitude of awards that came in years following this review, including the only Mobile Five-Stars awarded in the state, and the only perfect score for food by Conde Nast Travel in 2002.
At the helm was Chef Ken Vedrinski, who, Kronsberg wrote, “is a master of his craft.” Coming from the acclaimed SwissÔtel Atlanta, Vedrinski brought principles of flawless execution kept lively with creativity and introduction of local, seasonal ingredients and an early adoption of the farm-to-table philosophy, a practice that earned him a place on The Today Show.
After a wildly successful start to his culinary career in the Lowcountry, Vedrinski left The Woodlands to build a restaurant of his own. He opened Sienna in Daniel Island, SC, and thus began his career as a restaurant owner and chef of Italian cuisine.
Recently, we checked in with Chef Vedrinski to talk about the development of his career, his Italian influences, and to get his take on the restaurant industry in Charleston.
The review of The Woodlands was written in 1995, how has the restaurant industry changed since then?
Ken Vedrinski (KV): Charleston wasn’t known as a culinary town. Back when I was at The Woodlands, there were only a few fine dining restaurants, Restaurant Million being one. Frank Lee and a few others were making marks downtown, but Charleston’s well-known chefs of today had not come to town, some weren’t even born yet.
Back then, most restaurants were still pretty basic; we questioned whether Charleston was ready to move beyond shrimp and grits and Frogmore stew. We found success with a modest number of local foodies supported by a steady stream of travelers from outside the region. The Woodlands was the first in the area to receive national accolades, and I believe it was part of what put Charleston on the map, along with the work of Marlene and Louis Osteen and the Salute to Southern Chefs. That’s when things began to change for the city.
The result of this work, and perhaps the most profound change for Charleston, Vedrinski said, has been the recent exponential increase in restaurants. He commented that the influx of new places is adding pressure to kitchen staff and front-of-house staff, as well. The lack of service and back-of-house staff has been reported on already, but Vedrinski went as far as to warn of a potential decline if businesses cannot find enough high quality, professional cooks to support their chefs, or adequately trained waitstaff to attend to their diners. “What we don’t want is to look back years from now and see a restaurant graveyard,” Vedrinski stated.
Vedrinski left The Woodlands to open Sienna, his first Italian-only venture, where he wore the chef’s hat along with the weighty responsibilities of a first-time owner.
KV: I learned how to be a restaurateur by going through it—chefs and owners are two very different things. Chefs don’t need to know anything about HR, insurance, and the like. Chef-owners need to be business savvy and understand every single vendor they work with, or they pay the price. As a chef, I never really knew where the money went, but when I opened Sienna, I quickly learned where it was being spent, and especially became aware when it wasn’t there.
Recalling hard lessons, Vedrinski shared the first time he had to pass on purchasing a special, high-priced ingredient because the money was not available, and sorrowfully recalled the moment when he could not make payroll on time. “Chefs have to learn by going through the ordeal of seeing what everything costs. Now, you’re no longer just cooking, you need to be well-rounded and understand every aspect of the business,” he said. Vedrinski lamented, “The world is full of great chefs who’ve lost great restaurants.”
After handing over the reins at Sienna, Vedrinski looked to the Charleston peninsula for a second course of Italian cuisine. In 2008, he opened Trattoria Lucca as the sole owner, chef, and sommelier. Noticing the rareness of a chef who is also a sommelier, we asked Vedrinski what his understanding of wine brings to his cooking.
KV: Italian cuisine has great synergy between food and wine – wine is a huge part of the Italian food scene, and the pairings are important. You can sit down with someone else, a hired sommelier, but it can sometimes feel like you’re speaking Chinese when talking about the ingredients and the flavors of your food. Besides, who knows the chef’s food better than the chef? Being a sommelier makes choosing and pairing the wines so much better.
I also love to drink Italian wine and took a huge interest in it. During trips to Italy, I went to the winemakers and saw what they were doing. I know the makers of about half the wines on our list and have been to their vineyards. This helps me understand the nuances of flavors, where they come from, and how they will work with my dishes. I can also help our guests choose a wine while telling them the story of the winemakers and their vineyards—and I think this adds tremendously to the experience at Lucca.
Vedrinski opened Lucca contented with the idea that it would be his focus for the foreseeable future; however, the opportunity arose for a new location well beyond the peninsula, one that he saw as a challenge in authenticity. He opened Coda del Pesce in 2013 on the Isle of Palms, a small beach community outside the city that typically catered to tourists.
Cultivated from his Italian heritage and travels to Italy, Vedrinski’s understanding of true and authentic Italian cuisine is rooted in the traditional ways of the people in the region—the cuisine is curated by the trades of the Italian people and their use of the land and its resources. He was adamant about maintaining this level of fidelity in what he served, regardless of the address.
KV: Italian food is peasant food, a humble and simple cuisine, and each town or region has its own style. They use uncomplicated ingredients from the farmers and artisans nearby, a practice that was once done here with the use of rice and other grains in traditional Gullah cuisine. I see the return of this in Charleston—farming, craftsmanship, and artisanal products coming back—as a very good thing for the culinary industry. But we’re not there yet. Italian in America is mostly “Americanized,” with overly ground meats, cheap ingredients, and the use of too much cheese. Even on the beach, I was not going to do this. I’d go broke before cooking like that.
As the sole proprietor of Coda del Pesce, Vedrinski is unencumbered by the influence of an owner or investor and is not driven by the bottom line—a freedom that allowed him to take a chance putting an Italian restaurant in a southern beach town. He is determined to share with Charleston and its many visitors the pleasantness of genuine Italian fare, whether through the use of Italian ingredients, Italian wine, or by showcasing the Italian application of being content preparing simple ingredients found around you. “There is a little luck involved, but if it tastes good and there’s value in it, people will come.”
During our talk, Chef Vedrinski humbly abridged more than two decades of restaurant experience through his eyes as a chef, owner, and sommelier. We hope to continue learning and sharing teachings from Ken and other industry veterans as the culinary environment grows and evolves.