Charleston area residents have grown inured to the openings of high-end hotels with signature restaurants, but Kate and Ben Towill are inverting the model by opening “a restaurant with rooms” on the site of the former Old Village Post House.
The Towills, best known locally for developing Basic Kitchen in downtown Charleston, plan to open The Post House Restaurant + Inn at 101 Pitt St. in the first half of 2020. In addition to seven rooms, the property will feature a dining room with an outdoor courtyard, private event space and street-front bar.
Ben Towill says the decision to relocate the bar from the back of the restaurant has unsettled some former Old Village Post House customers who were fond of the dimly-lit hideaway. But he’s assured them that his overarching aim is to move the historic building’s best features out of the shadows, and to better integrate the restaurant with its surrounding neighborhood.
“We’re trying to open it all up,” Towill says.
To that end, the Towills have already swapped out plain plate glass for greenhouse-style windows, and knocked out the ceiling which loomed over the one-time Captain’s Room. Currently, the building looks like a walled-in construction site.
“What started as just a refurbishing turned into a full renovation,” Towill admits.
When the project’s finished, Towill says, the restaurant and hotel components should flow together seamlessly. He compares the intended setup to old English pubs offering beds upstairs and hearty meals below. For example, he envisions hotel guests checking in at the main host stand and taking their breakfasts in the barroom, as opposed to the secluded second-floor nook where guests started their days during the Old Village Post House era.
Menus haven’t yet been worked out, but Towill imagines the restaurant will serve a fair amount of fresh seafood in a nod to nearby Shem Creek, as well as burgers and salads.
“Because of where we are, we’re super sensitive to price point,” he says.
Towill isn’t complaining. “We heard this was coming on the market, and it’s very rare that something like this comes up,” he says. Still, “I don’t know if I would have jumped on it if it had been downtown.”
Built in the 1880s, Old Village Post House in 1984 was redesigned as a restaurant and inn. Hall Management Group, which took over its ownership with the 2015 purchase of Maverick Southern Kitchens, sold it to local investors in February 2019.