In an industry in which job tenures are increasingly measured in months, Barsa has just hired the third executive chef in the upper King Street restaurant’s history.
Barsa seven years ago opened as Charleston’s only tapas restaurant, filling the void left by the closures of Raval and Chai. Initially under the kitchen leadership of Derek Falta, Barsa was almost immediately turned over to owner Drazen Romic’s protégé Cole Poolaw.
“(Romic’s) hard work and dedication taught me what it means to be a chef,” Poolaw in 2016 told his hometown newspaper in Marlboro County. “I owe him a lot for pushing me.”
But Poolaw’s run at Barsa – which included an extracurricular appearance on Food Network’s Chopped – recently came to an end. Romic did not return messages seeking comment, general manager Brittaney Litton confirmed that Joseph “Chip” Long is now serving as the restaurant’s executive chef. At this point, she says, Long hasn’t implemented any menu changes.
The unprecedented growth of the Charleston restaurant scene since 2011 means Barsa won’t be the city’s sole source of Spanish dishes for much longer: The Chez Nous team is working to open Malagon in the former Artisan Meat Share, while Washington D.C.’s Estadio is gearing up to open a Charleston location just four blocks west on Spring Street.