The Green Door’s Owner Says He’s Nearly Secured New Location

gdoor-240x300The 150 fans of The Green Door who last night attended a final farewell party for the restaurant “partied pretty hard,” even though they didn’t have a new location to celebrate, owner Cory Burke reports.

Burke had hoped to reveal information about his future plans at the customer appreciation party, rescheduled after Big John’s Tavern booted the project from its premises. Burke earlier this year took over Big John’s kitchen, but the partnership didn’t survive a change in tavern management: Although owner Ryan Condon initially agreed to let The Green Door operate through the end of October, Burke’s announcement of a blow-out Halloween party caused Condon to shut down the bar on Oct. 21.

“Having a going away party on Halloween night and going crazy in here, and they’re not going to do that,” Condon told The Post and Courier.

Last night’s party, held at Grow Food Carolina, featured a roti bar with beef cheeks, braised seaweed, pig’s head and strong punch. Continue reading

Big John’s Owner Wants to Restore the Big John’s of His Youth

newbigjohnDespite rumors which swirled after the announcement of The Green Door’s imminent closing, bar owner Ryan Condon says he’s not only keeping Big John’s Tavern open: He’s planning to return the 59-year old institution to its former status as a traditional watering hole, where the TVs tuned to football are a bigger draw than the fish head curry.

“I want to return Big John’s to what Big John’s was when I started going there,” says Condon, who started hanging out at Big John’s as a high schooler. “If Big John would ever have seen The Green Door, he would have rolled over in his grave. I don’t even know what the hell grilled kimchee is; I just want to restore Big John’s the way it was.”

Condon says he evicted The Green Door from Big John’s Tavern because the concept didn’t square with the institution he vowed to protect when he bought it from football great John Cannady in 1991. Continue reading

The Green Door to Close on Oct. 31

gdoorThe minds behind Charleston’s most reliably inventive restaurant will now have to think creatively about location, since Big John’s Tavern is booting out The Green Door at month’s end.

The Roti Rolls spinoff late last year took up residence in the downtown dive bar, which was then run by brothers Chris and Jim Condon. But unbeknownst to Green Door owner Cory Burke, the building belonged to their uncle, Ryan, co-owner of The Crab Shack, a local seafood chain. When Ryan Condon took over Big John’s operations, doing away with braised pig heads and kimchi grilled cheese sandwiches was high on his priority list, Burke says.

“He apparently never liked Green Door,” Burke says. “He doesn’t like our food. He hates everything we’ve done.”

Ryan Condon did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Continue reading

Xiao Bao Heats Up Charleston

xbb“Lowcountry food isn’t really spicy,” says Josh Walker, owner and chef of Xiao Bao Biscuit. Although peppers thrive in lowcountry soil, and hot sauce has long been a standard condiment in local kitchens, area residents have traditionally preferred to wring flavor from salt, onions, butter and cream.

Walker and his crew didn’t set out to spice up the Charleston diet. But an unintended consequence of the young restaurant’s extraordinary popularity may be an increased collective tolerance for heat.

“When we say spicy, we mean spicy,” Walker says of dishes accentuated with chili oil and Sichuan peppercorns. Walker rues the promiscuous use of the word “spicy,” which is now blithely affixed to fast food tacos and mass-produced potato chips. As he points out, a dusting of industrial red powder can’t prepare the palate for the level of heat which is integral to certain Asian cuisines.

But the palate can be trained: Walker’s witnessed the phenomenon behind-the-scenes at Xiao Bao.

Continue reading