There's now a white duck painted on the exterior wall of the building at 792 Folly Road, signaling that the forthcoming taco joint housed within is on the cusp of opening.
"Right now, we're shooting for late June," says Andrew Pannell, White Duck Taco Shop's first franchisee. "I'm cautiously optimistic."
The first White Duck Taco Shop opened three years ago in Asheville's River Arts District, promising "the freshest, most awesomest creative food every day." Owners Ben Mixson and Laura Reuss recently opened a second location in downtown Asheville, leapfrogging the James Island store long in the works.
Pannell and Mixson were classmates at the College of Charleston; Pannell previously worked as a wine buyer, but a "really enjoyable" meal at White Duck and a "fortuitous meeting" with Mixson led to the franchising plan.
According to Pannell, the James Island location will serve the same menu as the original White Duck, where available taco fillings have included lump crab, lamb gyro, mushroom potato and Thai peanut chicken. ("The menu is subject to change, sometimes daily," the restaurant's website explains.) Although tacos make up the bulk of the menu, there are also side dishes, soups and dessert.
While the James Island restaurant will serve beer and wine, Pannell stresses, "we're not a bar. We're not tailoring that to the Charleston crowd." But in deference to the beachy location, Pannell is considering adding a mojito to the standard White Duck drinks list.
Although White Duck hasn't yet settled on hours, Pannell predicts they'll mirror the Asheville schedule of 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
"I just want people to know we're a fast, good, affordable option for James Island," he says.