Our blog has moved!
Check out our new home:

Friday, August 29, 2008

Congratulations, Adrienne & Wells

Our very own Lowndes Grove Sales Manager Adrienne Boyle got engaged this past weekend in true Charleston style, in front of the pineapple fountain! We here at PP thought for sure this might have happened earlier in the year when they took a trip to Costa Rica (um, yes, we think about these things), or perhaps during football season (Wells is a huge Clemson fan). At any rate, Wells surprised Adrienne (and all of us) with a most stunning ring. Congrats you crazy kids. We lift our collective champagne flutes to you. Now, Adrienne. What are your colors?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Notes from the kitchen

Late this afternoon, over in the PP catering kitchen, Staff Accountant/Local Restaurant Co-Owner Elena and I had the opportunity to sample some of the new Fish menu. For those of you who were fans of the dim sum, never fear, it's back and it is insanely delicious. In fact, dim sum will now be a menu staple. (Which is aces for me as I could sincerely eat it all the live long day.) We also tried a fantastic tempura cherry tomato with homemade, panko-crusted mozzarella (Here ends the menu insider tips!) Sweet mother, it was delicious.

And, I have to say, I've never had the opportunity to be on the inside of a process like this. It was utterly enthralling to watch Nico, Chef de Cuisine Charron Henry, Sous Chef Deveaux Stockton and an array of cooks hovered around the stainless steel tables so earnestly discussing, tasting sauces, adjusting, tweaking, sampling, sharing. I was initially surprised at how serious the atmosphere appeared. But as I thought about it, the answer was clear. This is what they do. This is their art and passion. And who doesn't want what they do to be spot on? I walked away full, though I would have gladly sampled more, and exceedingly grateful to be allowed in on the process, to be given a glimpse of that moment of creation and celebration that is putting flavors and textures and colors together. All to bring people together, to eat and connect and enjoy.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Today's Post Brought To You By The Letter...

That "O" is for my ohmygawd. I thought the final push to get Lowndes Grove finished was something to behold? Apparently, I had to wait to witness the re-birthing of Fish to truly understand. Y'all, it's very well-organized madness here. Architects, PP maintenance staff, contractors, painters, boatmakers/woodworkers, managers, chefs and everyone in between have put it into high gear to get things ready to roll for the upcoming reopening. Today at PP headquarters, I met with Executive Chef Nico Romo on the new dinner menu. So choice. Also met with our favorite Pastry Chef Susie Ieronemo who spent her summer vacation "logging about 375 hours online researching French desserts." Might I just say...from our conversation today about the new dessert menu, Ms. Ieronemo's research sounds both extensive and deelish. Just you wait.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Byebye, old gal.

Being in the preservation and hospitality business is a constant blend of old and new. Case in point. Today at Lowndes Grove, we said goodbye to a dear, dying tree. Lowndes Grove, by virtue of its name, has an incredible assortment of historic, beautiful trees. Upon purchasing Lowndes Grove a little more than a year ago, Patrick Properties first order of business was to take a long, mindful look at the trees. Many had not received the love and care they so urgently needed. Some flourished in spite of it, and an unfortunate few suffered.

Ashley, our General Manager, sent me the photo above this morning, along with this line: Byebye, old gal! I sat there wondering if that "old gal" could talk, what stories she might share with us. After all, she has quite a long and illustrious history.

But, since we don't yet have the capability to "hear" the trees talking to us, it's a comfort to work alongside folks like Ashley who remind us of the good stuff. And that is the trees, the river, the land and the stories they hold. I can only hope that when it comes time for each of us to move on, we can make as graceful an exit as this one, magnificent tree.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Buffed, Polished & Refined...and now about that Jag...

Picture it: Lowndes Grove, just before sunrise. General Manager Ashley Gunnin, photographer Nils Schlebusch, his assistant Todd and me, all waiting for one, fabulous arrival. The front gate opens, and we watch as the hunter green Jag-You-Are rolls confidently toward the Main House. The car stops and out steps the enigmatic Mitchell Crosby of JMC Charleston.

Mitchell is simply one of our favorite people, and he was instrumental in helping Forbes put together an upcoming feature on Charleston. This morning's photo shoot was all about capturing Charleston hospitality and events, with Mitchell and Lowndes Grove as the stars.

The whole shoot was big fun. I got to play gaffer. Ashley and I snapped cell phone outtakes. Mitchell sang bits of Missy Elliot songs. You know, the usual.

We are abuzz with anticipation about seeing this one in print. For now, take a peek at these.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Happiest Hour of All

Fish General Manager Jodie Battles passed along some fantastic photos from her time in New York with the folks at Craft. This one especially caught my eye. According to Jodie, this is "possibly the best summer cocktail ever." It's called "Coming Up Roses," and it's served at The Modern. Stoli raspberry, rose petals, rose water, fresh lime and champagne. Oh, how very rich indeed!

Thoughts from 'round the hospitality campfire

One of the gems Fish General Manager Jodie Battles picked up during her time with the Craft folks in New York was their concept of "enlightened hospitality." First of all, for a word nerd like me, what a fantastic phrase. I'm already in! What's funny about this whole concept is its simplicity. The premise? First, show hospitality to the people who work for you. Of course it's simple, but for anyone who's ever worked in the hospitality business, simple ain't always so simple.

While we're on the subject of ever-so-sharp phrases, I came across this one: Happy Luxe. It's a mix of Jonathan Adler (check out this manifesto) and The Parker Palm Springs (check out the uniforms on the bell hops!). I love this concept: luxury need not be stuffy. It need not whisper. It can be warm and whimsical.

P.S. Here's where the world is media-wise: Barack Obama is going to "pre-announce" his running mate via text message to his constituency. That's before CNN, folks.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Easements, Architecture, Piazzas

One of the more interesting things about owning historic properties is the steps that must be taken to protect it, not just during the time when "you" are the owner, but in perpetuity. Got a good lesson in easements and architecture yesterday during a walking tour of Lowndes Grove with architect Glenn Keyes, Historic Charleston Foundation's April Wood and Managing Partner Randall Goldman. One of the interesting historic tidbits that came out of yesterday's tour was this: many of our fame Charleston piazzas were actually additions to homes. This piazza trend kicked off in the 1830s. Randall and I were wracking our brains yesterday to come up with any sort of socio-economic or political reason for the sudden, perceived need for piazzas. Besides, you know, people realized that a breeze in Charleston is a very good thing. Will do some research on this and report back. If anyone has some piazza insight, please let us know!

Monday, August 18, 2008

On Newsstands Now!

Isn't it just the best to come home and find a surprise waiting? Specifically, I'm talking about the latest edition of Charleston Weddings, in which Lowndes Grove has a starring role, sitting ever so beautifully on my desk. You simply must check it out. And, Style Editor Ayoka Lucas has posted some fun behind-the-scenes shots on the Charleston Weddings blog. Thanks to everyone who made the shoot, and this issue so fantastic.

And now, with little to no, non-sequitor, just have to share this brilliant and darkly funny (you KNOW how I love it) promotional piece for the now defunct (long shuddering sigh) Florent in NYC. French in roots and vibe but ever so Meatpacking District and New York in every other way. Check out this hilariously creative promo for Bastille Day.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

NOT on the moo shu menu

But he sure was tasty. This former China Lake, Maine native was reported to be both lovely and delicious, especially served with drawn butter. Thanks to my partner in crime Courtney Jo, who provided this photo, ate this lobster and today, celebrated her one year anniversary with the PP team. Thanks lady, I would be lost without you.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Moo shu? WTF?

The funniest response we’ve received to the “mysterious moo shu messages” posted in the windows of Fish was “Alright now, WTF? What’s goin’ down at Fish?”

Even our awesome UPS man, Shaq, barraged staff at The William Aiken House with moo shu questions. They kept the details secret but assured Shaq he would love it. And to answer his question, "Yes, it will be spicy! (If you want, we're all about choice here). By the way, the latest moo shu message is “Moo moo moo shu, you know I love you.” (Points for those who correctly identify the source!)

And, one of our local faves, DJ Moo Moo, who will be crafting some of his signature sounds for Fish, has had friends taking photos in front of the sundry “moo moo moo shu” messages! Nice.

On Friday, some very important and delicious taste-tasting of the aforementioned moo shu will take place. You can be certain a detailed report will follow shortly thereafter.
When last we left The American Theater, the transformation of the back theater and concessions area into a Grand Ballroom was in full-effect. Call it 2,300 square feet of elegant and inviting space that easily accommodates 140 seated, 250 theater or 160 classroom style guests. A 9 x 12 screen with ceiling mounted projector, state-of-the-art AMX A/V system, multiple handheld, lapel and headset microphones and a 340-square-foot stage for presentations/performances make it quite the hotspot for glamorous soirees. Design highlights include two custom-designed, milk glass, Art-Deco chandeliers.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tuesday on Upper King

Fish General Manager Jodie Battles made it back from the Big Apple in one piece, with a smile on her face and stories and photos galore. We'll share tomorrow!

As I write this post, Managing Partner is seated on the floor by our resident Staff Accountant, chatting about invoices and exchanging very funny verbal barbs. (It really is funny to work here.)

In other news, you know by now that I'm a huge fan of marketing and advertising. I'm always interested in how people choose to market themselves. Why they chose a particular color for their logo? What emotions are their photo choices trying to convey? What does it all mean? Anywho, along those lines, just perused our pal Calder Clark's sassy and sophisticated new website. Also, thanks to Mitchell Crosby who mentioned Lowndes Grove in a fine write up in the CRBJ, ahem, The Movers & Shakers edition, no less!

Was walking through American Theater this afternoon, checking out the renovation progress. It's quite something to watch all the hands come together to make something this extraordinary happen. Already, the new Grand Ballroom is taking on a rather regal vibe. I can't wait for the first big shindig where it can truly strut its stuff.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Guess who's 30?

Our illustrious Director of Human Resources, Elizabeth Kitchin, that's who! See how happy and alert she is? (It's the coffee.) Or, perhaps it's the insane amount of sugar we forced her to ingest today for her birthday festivities. Whatever the reason for her chipperness, we are grateful for all that she does to keep things here at PP running smoothly. Happy 30th, Elizabeth!

In rather tragic news, Alex's in Mount Pleasant is going to be undergoing a major renovation this fall that will change its very diner-esque persona to something that will help it better compete against the establishments at nearby Shem Creek. Um, what? The owners are selling their 3 other locations due to our sluggish economy. I will tell you that when I lived in Mt. Pleasant right near Shem Creek, I literally went to Alex's every weekend morning. As I am a die-hard diner supporter, I felt right at home with the breakfast all day vibe. I sat at the counter, happily ate my eggs, biscuit, corned beef hash, sipped my weak but never-ending cup of coffee, chatted with the waitresses and joyfully people-watched the array of humanity that passed through Alex's doors. Sheer heaven, I tell you. Sigh. Make sure you pay Alex's a visit before it changes forever. P.S. The new name will be: Our Bridge Cafe.

Our pal Calder Clark of Bluemoon Events was quoted in a fun little CNN piece about wedding day disasters. Ever the unflappable optimist, Calder said she tells her soon-to-be-wedded clients to just enjoy the party that is their wedding day.

And by the way, if you're really missing Nico while we refresh Fish and let's face it, who isn't, check out two of his recipes in a great write up by Abi Nicholas over at the P & C. Need more incentive, um duck fat!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Naked Fish, Killer Beef & Table to Farm

Okay, so under the penalty of death and dismemberment, I am no longer allowed to share photos of the INTERIOR of the Fish renovation. But that's cool. We all love a little anticipation now and again. However, the exterior is out there for the world to see. Check out our awning-less front above. And, you may notice a change in exterior color over the next few weeks. The color? Oh, you just wait. Or, stroll by, you'll see.

Was chatting with Nico today about his recent trip to Chicago. He was only there for a long weekend but did manage to squeeze in a visit to Avec (Help, I'm getting that jealous feeling again...) He said the food was wonderful, and the vibe unpretensious and fun.

Great write up in the Post & Courier on Cordray's yesterday. P.S. Fish serves Cordray's beef. (Sidenote: Nico was exuberant the day he burst into the PP offices with the news of his purchase of "my cow!") Cordray's takes great care with their cows, and it results in fantastic meat. Their cows get no growth hormones, no antibiotics and are mostly grass- and hay-fed. The grain feed that helps fatten them during the last few months is made on the farm from locally grown corn, soybean meal and molasses.

While I'm near the subject, I read this incredible piece the other day on Table to Farm. No, I didn't invert them. The Farm to Table concept is super popular right now, and might I add, super yummy. The Table to Farm concept brings the process full circle. According to the article, Table to Farm is the "age-old system of utilizing our discarded food scraps as a food and nutrient source in our food production system." Translation: chickens and pigs can eat our scrap food (rather than spend kajillions on corn and other feed). Better for our economy and the environment. Something to ponder.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Love, American Style & A New York Story

Guess what Corporate Sales Manager Jessica Kafer and I did last night? Oh, just helped these two lovebirds get engaged in front of The American Theater and then have some celebratory champagne at the reflecting pool at The William Aiken House. Just that. You know, a slow Tuesday night. Can you believe how utterly cute Ryan and Grayson (happy couple) are? Ryan contacted us several weeks ago to assist in his proposal. He and now fiancee Grayson are huge fans of the movie, The Notebook, which filmed a few scenes in front of our lovely theater. So, Ryan did his engagement up, American style, with the proposal on the marquee and all. Congratulations, you crazy kids. By the way, if you're looking for a place to have your rehearsal dinner, wedding reception, after party or what not, um call me, I know people.

And now, a New York story from our very own General Manager Jodie Battles who's working with the fine folks at Tom Colicchio's Craft restaurant.

Yesterday I visited the Union Square Greenmarket, which the BOH team at Craft visits 4 - 5 per week to obtain all the fresh, local items they can get there hands on. Much like at Fish, they also use local, seasonal, sustainable items whenever and wherever possible on the menu...and yesterday I actually got to see some of the snapper they were serving on the menu that Tom caught on recent fishing trip!

The kitchen trail during dinner service last night was incredibly informative...filling! I thought I was going to have to be carried up the stairs by the time the last plates of the evening went out! As I manned my expo post next to Chef de Cuisine, James Tracey, and walked around observing at the various stations, there were samples of menu items in from of me each moment I turned the corner! From roasted chanterelles and morels to suckling pig, squid ink risotto and pancetta wrapped monkfish, hamachi, foie gras with wild plums and fresh bay leaf, lamb agnolotti, sorbet samplers...you get the point...I'm not going to need to eat for the rest of the trip...!

P.S. I'm officially jealous. FOIE GRAS WITH WILD PLUMS?! Where did I go wrong?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Jodie's NYC Adventure: She's Craft(y) & more!

Where in the world is Fish General Manager Jodie Battles? Why New York City of course! Today, Ms. Battles made a trip to the Union Square Greenmarket and tonight, she'll be shadowing Craft's Chef de Cuisine, James Tracey in the kitchen. Fun! As for her eating/drinking experiences, so far Jodie has taken in nibbles and beverages at Craft Bar (of course), The Modern, Nobu and the Fatty Crab (One of my recommendations. Their Nasi Lemak: coconut rice, chicken curry with poached egg and the ribs are to die for.)

In other Fish news, Managing Partner clipped a funny from Consumer Reports' Goofs, Glitches, Gotches page (read: every marketer's nightmare). An ad for moo shu (yes, really) calls out the special as "moo shu pork with 4 creeps." We can only hope they meant crepes. Darn you, spellcheck!

BTW: the moo shu signage on the Fish windows continue to garner feedback and questions from the masses. The current message: I AM THE WALRUS, MOO MOO SHU actually elicited an impromptu burst into song from several ladies I watched pass by and read the sign aloud. And, our awesome UPS man, Shaq, asked the staff at The William Aiken House a number of questions about the moo shu. They kept their composure and assured Shaq he would love it. And to answer his question, "Yes, it will be spicy! (if you want, we're all about choice here).

Also, if you haven't yet made the trip to North Charleston's Riverfront Park at the old Navy Base, you are missing one of the most beautifully designed and maintained spaces in Charleston. Was there for a picnic on Sunday and was utterly amazed. Sculpture from the National Outdoor Sculpture Competition and Exhibition is on display and the views of the Cooper River are just pristine. While we picnicked, a giant freight ship moved by, taking up the entire horizon. It was incredible. Literally, everyone stopped and stared at the awesome HUGENESS of the ship. And you know, then we went back to eating and drinking. Just another awe-inspiring day in little Charleston.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Fish turns 8, Jodie's big adventure & cocktails in Tokyo

So much happening I scarcely know where to begin! First of all, today is Fish's 8th anniversary. Over the past 8 years, there has been some kind of celebration/shindig to mark the occasion, but of course, this year is a tad different, what with the renovation and expansion. Interestingly enough, the number 8 has great meaning: in Christianity, 8 represents rebirth and resurrection because Christ rose from grave 8 days after entering Jerusalem. In Hinduism, 8 is the number of wealth and prosperity. The 8 Immortals are Chinese deities and in Islam, 8 is the number of angels carrying The Holy Throne of Allah in heaven. In Buddhism, 8 is also an auspicious number for Buddhists, as in the 'eight auspicious symbols. Basically, 8 is great all over the place.

And, not to get too touchy feely on you, but it helps to have the universe behind you, as well as the support of our many families, friends, colleagues and clients.

In Big Apple news, Fish General Manager Jodie Battles has landed on her feet after a rather hilarious (well to us) and harrowing first day. As I mentioned, the hotel booked for her was condemned. So, those folks sent her to a second hotel that was, how shall we say, worse than condemned? (Note to self: if Randall offers to book you a trip, may I recommend respectfully declining? I mean, unless you like rubble. Your choice.) But, what a difference a day and the unflappable Jodie make! Take a look at her email:

Long story short, after walking/cabbing the streets of Manhattan with my luggage in tow for...mmm...about 6 hours, the amazing Elizabeth (Director of HR) miraculously got me into a room at the W New York...and it's fabulous! I begin working at Craft tonight...I am meeting the Director of Operations, Richard Breitkreutz this afternoon, will then be joining the entire FOH and BOH staff for their pre-shift family meal (love that they do this), and will shadow Richard on the floor and observe in the kitchen throughout dinner service. To say I'm excited doesn't begin to do justice! Pics to come!

Read a great article in the new Bon Appetit (fantastic graphic design) highlighting Tokyo as the cocktail capital of the world. (P.S. How does one get the gig to go boozing all over Tokyo and then write about it?) The article likens the attention to detail and reverence for the process/ceremony and ingredients to that of the Japanese tea ceremony. Well, isn't that just the coolest thing? Honestly, that's the thing that I believe makes the difference no matter what you're doing: cooking food, making cocktails, growing vegetables, writing copy or fashioning a 25 and a half foot bar (we measured it this week). It's the passion for and the reverence and respect of the thing you're doing that makes it exceptional. It's the energy that infuses it, and quite simply, people feel that. And, in the best cases, it resonates and creates its own story. A story that folks want to tell again and again.