Jestine’s Kitchen Celebrates 18 Years in the Restaurant Biz

jestdoorJestine’s Kitchen is celebrating 18 years in business next Thursday.

There aren’t any events scheduled in conjunction with the Feb. 6 milestone, but owner Dana Berlin Strange says the occasion won’t go unremarked. “Our customers will bring us presents,” Strange writes in an e-mail announcing the anniversary. “They always do.”

The restaurant is located at 251 Meeting St.

Jestine’s Kitchen Back in Business Next Week

jkkitchenJestine’s Kitchen, which last month shut down in the midst of lunch service, is planning to re-open on Tuesday, Oct. 1 at 11 a.m.

Jessica Grossman of Jestine’s Sweet Shop shared the news in an e-mail, but didn’t elaborate on what diners should expect when the tourist favorite returns. Jestine’s Sweet Shop remained open throughout the restaurant’s hiatus.

It’s still not clear what caused Jestine’s owner Dana Berlin Strange to close the restaurant on Aug. 22 without warning: According to social media reports, Strange shooed away customers, declaring the restaurant would never re-open.

The restaurant’s windows were papered over days after the closure with butcher paper on which the oddly-spelled phrase “closed for remolding” was handwritten.

Strange in 1996 opened Jestine’s Kitchen to honor her family’s longtime housekeeper. Jestine Matthews died the following year at age 112, but her namesake restaurant continued to attract acclaim from the national press and remarkably long lines.

Code Concerns Didn’t Force Jestine’s Kitchen to Close

jestintJestine’s Kitchen was not facing any citations for building code violations prior to its sudden closure, a city spokeswoman today confirmed.

According to Charleston spokeswoman Barbara Vaughn, none of the city’s departments charged with code enforcement were involved with the downtown restaurant when it abruptly shut down last Thursday afternoon. The timing of the closure and reference to “renovations” on the restaurant’s outgoing voice mail message had led some patrons to speculate that the 1949 building had failed inspection.

Although Strange still hasn’t contacted the Post & Courier, she yesterday told WCSC’s  Raphael James that she’d decided to close the restaurant so she could redo the kitchen floor and plumbing. Asked whether the decision was sudden, she said, “I’m a woman.” Whether the comment was made in earnest or jest wasn’t clear from the report.

Jestine’s Sweet Shop Still Open

jestinesAs of this weekend, Jestine’s Sweet Shop remained open, but it remains unclear why Jestine’s Kitchen closed without warning on Thursday, and whether the popular restaurant plans to re-open.

A Sweet Shop staffer refused to comment on the situation, but a man in the shop who identified himself as a friend of its employees said they’re as curious as the general public about what prompted the abrupt closure for unscheduled and unspecified renovations.

Although messages left on the restaurant’s voicemail and with the Sweet Shop for owner Dana Berlin Strange weren’t returned, rumors that the closure could be prolonged or permanent are swirling on social media. Continue reading

Jestine’s Kitchen Closes For Unplanned Renovations

Jestine’s Kitchen is closed for unanticipated renovations, according to the restaurant’s outgoing voicemail message.

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“We are closed right now for renovations, thank you very much,” the speaker says. “I’m very sorry. It was out of my control.”

It’s unclear exactly when and why the restaurant suspended service, but tipster @KeeneDawg reports hearing Jestine’s “closed yesterday in the middle of the day.” (Lunch service apparently began as usual: I swung by the restaurant around noon yesterday to shoot a picture of the line for a Seattle food writer planning a Charleston trip and wondering if Jestine’s was worth a stop.) Continue reading