Casual Mediterranean Chain Zoës Kitchen Comes to Mt. Pleasant

img42After opening 94 locations, most of them in the Southeast, Zoës Kitchen is opening its first South Carolina store in Mt. Pleasant.

Zoës Kitchen at 1242 Belk Drive is hoping to pique anticipation for its Oct. 10 debut with a Facebook contest in which 500 free meals will be awarded. The contest gets underway today, and runs through opening day.

The Zoës chain started in Birmingham, Ala., where Zoë Cassimus in 1995 opened a casual lunch counter emphasizing fresh ingredients and Greek flavors. The current menu includes salads, pita sandwiches and kebabs. Zoës also offers takeaway prepared meals sized for four eaters and side dishes packed in pints. Box lunches and party trays are available through the restaurant’s catering division.

Beer and wine will also be sold at the Mt. Pleasant store, which has indoor seating for 76 people and a patio which seats 50. The restaurant plans to open daily from 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Smashburger Announces Oct. 2 Opening in Summerville

BBQ Bacon Cheese w FriesSmashburger will open its Summerville store on Oct. 2, and the chain’s founder says more Charleston area locations are likely to follow.

“We don’t do one-offs in any market,” Tom Ryan says. “I think we’re going to build more.”

Since opening its first location in Denver in 2007, Smashburger has added more than 220 stores to its portfolio, debuting in South Carolina last December. When the Columbia franchise opened, its owner told The State that if his store succeeded, it would likely prompt the chain to set up shop in Charleston.

“Burgers are Americans’ favorite food, and Charleston people love burgers as well as — if not better than — average Americans,” says Ryan, who envisions “tons of happy people enjoying juicy burgers” at Azalea Square’s Smashburger. Continue reading

Charleston Starbucks Inch Closer to La Boulange Pastry Rollout

Classic CroissantStarbucks isn’t saying when its new pastry line will reach Charleston, but local staffers suspect the switchover’s imminent: According to a barista at the chain’s International Boulevard location, the store last week received new warming equipment.

The coffee giant in April rolled out La Boulange products at its stores in San Francisco, which birthed the bakery responsible for the upgraded cookies, cakes and croissants. The pastries are now available in Seattle, Portland, Phoenix, Chicago and New York, with Boston’s stores set to start carrying the sweets and savories this month.

Starbucks last year bought La Boulange for $100 million with the intention of elevating the quality of its baked goods. “Starbucks has 40 million customers per week in America,” La Boulange’s owner Pascal Rigo this spring told the San Francisco Chronicle. “How do you scale that? How do you bring great product to that many people?” Continue reading

Marco’s Serves Up 400 Free Slices

PPP MP1 j5022a 136Marco’s Pizza — a northeast Ohio-based chain which proudly calls itself the “country’s fastest-growing pizza company” – is celebrating its Charleston-area expansion with a slice giveaway.

Since the store at 3515 Mary Ader Ave. is the 400th Marco’s location, the first 400 customers to show up between 12 noon and 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 11 will receive a free slice.

The chain already operates nine stores in South Carolina, including a location in Ladson. Marco’s plans to quadruple its nationwide store count in coming years, partly by putting eight more stores in the Charleston area by 2016.

Pasquale “Pat” Giammarco, who emigrated from Italy as a young boy, in 1978 opened the first Marco’s in Toledo, Ohio. In addition to serving pizza, Marco’s offers “CheezyBread” (join the chain’s e-mail club for a “free with pizza purchase” coupon); meatballs and subs.

The newest Marco’s has seating for 24 people. For pick-up orders or more information, call 818-4700.

Hungry For a Free Lunch?

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Newk’s Eatery

A Jackson, Miss.-based fast-casual chain is celebrating its entry into the Charleston-area  market with a “first menu item free” deal. The password is “Brack.”

Newk’s Eatery has opened dozens of location since 2004, when founder of the McAlister’s Deli chain first unveiled their new concept in Oxford, Miss. Industry publication QSR last year named Newk’s as one of the nation’s best franchise deals, citing its “combination of high-quality fare and low prices.” The Newk’s menu features salads, pizzas, soups and toasted sandwiches (I can vouch for the pimento cheese, having made a snack run to the original location when a Southern Foodways Alliance luncheon was unexpectedly delayed.)

In addition to its café seating, Newk’s also offers catering trays, party platters and a “grab-n-go option, where ready-to-go sandwiches and salads are available for immediate pick-up,” according to a press release.

The Newk’s at 210-D Azalea Square Blvd. in Summerville’s Azalea Shopping Center is one of five planned by franchisee NPR Food Services, headed by Todd Pennington, Jim Newton and Brack Rowe.

The promotion named for Rowe will run through the end of next week. Just drop his name at the counter to claim your free food.