Lunch service at Jestine’s Kitchen today proceeded so casually and calmly that most visiting diners apparently didn’t have a clue that the tourist haunt had just completed a six-week hiatus.
“They don’t know we were gone,” my server told me.
Although there wasn’t a line outside the door, guests swapped standard banter with new manager Michael Pendleton, sharing highlights of their Charleston vacations and citing the travel guide which pointed them to Jestine’s.
Owner Dana Berlin Strange on Aug. 22 suddenly closed her popular restaurant. While she initially refused to talk about her reasoning, she yesterday told the Post & Courier’s Abigail Darlington that “something personal happened and I just decided it was time to take a break…maybe it wasn’t a good idea to close in the middle of lunch, but that’s what I did.”
Strange wasn’t at Jestine’s for the reopening, but Pendleton – a longtime front-of-house professional whose resume includes Carolina’s, Il Cortile del Re and Water’s Edge – was actively circulating the room. According to my server, Pendleton recruited the restaurant’s current crew largely from his Rolodex of former employees.
Since I never visited Jestine’s prior to its closure, I don’t have a point of comparison for its food, but almost everything I sampled was undersalted. After salting my slab of meatloaf (which I’d be inclined to classify as a Salisbury steak, but I appreciate the distinction between the dishes is contentious), I noticed a man at the next table vigorously salting his fried chicken drumstick.
Jestine’s is resuming its normal hours, serving lunch and dinner six days a week. The restaurant’s closed on Mondays. For more information, call 722-7224.