Steven Jackson

Steven Jackson is developing the menu at Bourbon N' Bubbles, but you might remember him from Mr. B's Barbecue. Staff/Stephanie Barna

Bourbon N’ Bubbles, the swanky new venture coming soon to Upper King Street, would seemingly have little in common with the no-frills Griffon Pub. But that favorite haunt for food and beverage industry workers has had a big influence on this latest food-and-bev collaboration.

It started with Zach Dennis, a former High Cotton manager, who as a regular at The Griffon became friends with co-owner Scott London. When Dennis was tapped by Republic Garden and Lounge, to manage operations for Republic and new sister project, Bourbon N’ Bubbles, Dennis began hunting for a chef. That’s when London introduced him to another Griffon regular Steven Jackson.

Jackson, for those who remember the food scene here in the late 90s and early naughts, owned the beloved Mr. B’s Barbecue, a humble little pig-festooned joint on Johns Island that pulled people from all over, way before anybody outside of Hemingway even knew Rodney Scott’s name.

At Mr. B’s, Jackson would put half a smoked pig on the buffet for picking and stock the hot bar with a range of “cheffy” sides. The creamy grits and tomato gravy were fantastic as was the red rice and the requisite banana pudding, which put all other versions to shame. It was affordable too. 

At a recent preview event at Bourbon N’ Bubbles, Jackson reminisced about his old place and said he wished he’d never relocated to Mt. Pleasant.

After a few years, Mr. B's finally closed and Jackson wound up at Duvall Catering. When he left that job, he probably should’ve retired, he says, but then Dennis got in touch.

Bourbon N’ Bubbles, according to Bonaparte, is targeting an older clientele than Republic, which caters to bachelorettes, Southern Charm fans and those willing to pay for bottle service and VIP status.

"It's a built-in audience," Dennis says of the bar’s location on the ground floor of the Hyatt development at 570 King Street,  "You have 325 rooms and no food service."

The house bourbon was developed with Buffalo Trace. For a fee, customers who prefer another brand can keep a favorite bottle in an on-site locker.

Jackson's menu is still under development, but employees have sampled shrimp cocktail, scallops aguachile, beef tartare with toast points, a cheese plate and smoked salmon canapes. Dennis, for one, was thrilled  y the level of flavor and finesse he noticed in the dishes.  

Jackson, for his part, says, "I'm just really, really, really glad they picked me."

Bourbon N' Bubbles expects to be open to the public within a few weeks. 

Follow Stephanie Barna on Twitter @stefbarna.