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Former Bar Normandy chef and friends to open hot dog and crudo joint on James Island

Alex Lira's hot dog

Alex Lira's chili dog at Bar Normandy is needlessly fancy, but the chili is right on the money. Stephanie Barna/Staff

Alex Lira thought his James Island neighborhood could use a laid-back restaurant with hot dogs and raw fish, so he’s joining with friends to open just such a place.

Bar George is slated to open this October in the former Bowties JI Speakeasy, next door to the Terrace Theater. In addition to half a dozen kinds of hot dogs and oysters, Bar George will offer cocktails and crudo, although Lira says just about anything “refreshing and fun” could make its way on to the menu.

“We don’t like frou frou,” says Lira, a longtime chef who received national attention for his work at the late Bar Normandy. “We like good ingredients.”

Lira is one of five people backing the project: John Griffiths, who’s helped with the restoration of Lira’s Airstream trailer, and Hank Weed of Chico Feo are the other named partners.

Philip “Surfer Phil” Lawrence III, a familiar face from Bar Normandy, will serve as chef. Lira stresses his involvement will be limited to ownership and setting up the kitchen for success, since he’s committed to spending his time at Estadio: The Charleston branch of a popular Washington D.C. tapas restaurant is scheduled to open this year on Spring Street.

But Lira did contribute the restaurant’s name. Bar George is named for Lira’s uncle George Bacalis, known as the Hot Dog King of Norfolk, Va. The menu will feature Greek-style chili dogs in his honor.

Reach Hanna Raskin at 843-937-5560 and follow her on Twitter @hannaraskin.

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