WISE COLUMN: Dine With Sal group closes 3 restaurants, changes policy to open on Sunday
In the past two months, the Dine With Sal restaurant group closed Uno Mas and Sette in Mount Pleasant, and now the Boulevard Diner on James Island is dark.
So what's going on in the group that mushroomed over the past two decades from one restaurant with seven tables in 1994 to nine restaurants and 200 employees?
Andrea Sherman Parco, who handles marketing and personnel for the popular string of dining spots across greater Charleston and is the wife of owner Sal Parco, said it's all about finding balance by shaking off the less-profitable ventures and refining the six that remain, including opening on Sundays, a long-shunned practice of the dining group.
“Sometimes having more isn't the best way to have it all,” she said. “We are not really downsizing, but right-sizing and adjusting and tweaking things.”
She said her husband doesn't have time to visit nine restaurants as needed, so they closed three and are adding hours and new Sunday servings to most of the six remaining establishments.
The six are Mustard Seed lcoations in Mount Pleasant, James Island and Summerville; and Boulevard Diner, Long Point Grill and Village Bakery, all in Mount Pleasant.
For years, the Mount-Pleasant-based Dine With Sal group resisted Sunday openings, but that policy is being set aside with the new year to tap into the changing marketplace, Andrea Parco said.
The Boulevard Diner in Mount Pleasant was open this past Sunday for the first time, and the Mustard Seed in Mount Pleasant will open this Sunday for brunch. The following Sunday, the Mustard Seed on James island will open for brunch, and the next Sunday will see brunch offered at the Mustard Seed in Summerville.
Customers of the Boulevard Diner at 1978 Maybank Highway, which closed shortly after the new year began, are now directed next door to the Mustard Seed for breakfast.
And the Village Bakery, which makes cakes and desserts for the restaurant group in Mount Pleasant's Old Village and was open until 5 p.m., now serves farm-to-table fare from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. six days a week in the recast Village Bakery After Dark. The new service started Wednesday. It also will be available to rent for private parties.
As for the Long Point Grill, it will remain closed on Sunday for now, Parco said.
Dine With Sal owns the land under each of its restaurants, except for the Mustard Seed on James Island. Parco called the decision to buy the property “very smart” on her husband's part, as it will help them when it comes time to retire.
The Uno Mas site on Johnnie Dodds Boulevard is being marketed for lease, and Parco said there is a lot of interest. The former Sette on Coleman Boulevard is set to become the second location for Pane e Vino, a popular Italian restaurant in downtown Charleston, by late next week. Pane e Vino is leasing the site. The Parcos will concentrate on the lease for the closed Boulevard Diner on James Island once the Uno Mas site has a new occupant.
The extended hours at remaining restaurants also allowed Dine With Sal to transfer many existing staff members to other venues without imposing a lot of layoffs because of the closures, Parco said.
After nearly 15 years of serving the surfing and watersport community in the Charleston area, Charleston Watersport Outfitters in Mount Pleasant will close in late March. The lease on the 4,000-square-foot building expires April 1. Everything in the shop at 1255 Ben Sawyer Blvd. is on sale, said owner Dave Clifford. Clifford has his eye on a couple of other ventures, but they do not include another retail outlet.
After several years of selling books, music and supplies, the Family Christian Store in Citadel Mall is closing. In the past year or so, the store near the Belk wing had converted to an overstock shop with items from its sister stores. Its last day will be Jan. 26. Look for items up to 75 percent off. The closing doesn't affect the store at Northwoods Mall.
Do you know of a business that is opening, closing or expanding? Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.