Cooking Channel Looks to Improve Food at Local Dive Bars

“Belly Up,” a new Cooking Channel show devoted to elevating the food menus of dive bars, is now scouring Charleston for makeover subjects. Presumably, Big John’s Tavern isn’t planning to apply.

Big John’s owner Ryan Condon last month tossed out tenant Cory Burke of Roti Rolls, in part because the inventive chef’s Ethiopian-influenced cooking was too far removed from the pickled eggs and coldcut sandwiches he associated with the Big John’s of his youth. But “Belly Up”’s casting director Danya Berman believes “new, innovative, enticing bar foods that won’t break the budget” can help save struggling dive bars.

I’m super excited about the possibility of a South Carolina episode — Charleston seems to be a foodie town,” Berman writes. “Hopefully there is a dive bar that wants to remain a dive joint, but with a really delicious bar menu.”

The show, which screened a pilot in August but isn’t currently on the air, is hosted by Atlanta chef Eddie Russell. Berman pledges he is “not going to scream at or humiliate anyone.”

To nominate a bar for the show, e-mail your name; the bar’s name; owner’s contact information; recent photos and a short explanation of why the bar needs help to

“We’d love to make a total turnaround for a local business; wipe away some bad reviews, increase clientele and bring in more money!,” Berman says.

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