When John Berkeley died in 1678, he likely had no idea that his name could one day signify a low-key Charleston restaurant serving Northeastern-style food. But Marc and Elizabeth Hudacsko, who are weeks away from opening Berkeley’s in the former Uneeda Sicilian space, hope it conveys exactly that.
“Naming a restaurant is probably the toughest part,” Hudacsko said. “But in doing some digging, we found out Berkeley County and Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, where Elizabeth’s from, are named for the same person. It just felt like a cozy neighborhood name.”
Immediately prior to the pandemic, the Hudacskos operated a pop-up called We Flew South, named for the couple’s 2016 relocation. At venues such as The Daily and Dap’s Breakfast and Imbibe, We Flew South gained a following for its cheese steaks, meatballs, clam sauce and chicken parmesan.
While a few of those favorites will reappear at Berkeley’s, Marc Hudacsko stressed that the forthcoming restaurant won’t be so strictly themed.
“A pop-up needs more of a hook,” he said. “We’re not trying to be a New Jersey restaurant. We want to be an awesome restaurant on the corner of Rutledge and Huger.”
Hudacsko described Berkeley’s as located both physically and conceptually at the halfway point between Moe’s Crosstown Tavern and Little Jack’s Tavern, where both he and Elizabeth Hudacsko worked.
She added that the planned lineup of “sandwiches and suppers” should appeal to neighborhood families.
“We’re not going to not have a children’s menu,” Hudacsko said, referring to a strategy popular with downtown restaurants eager to attract an of-age clientele. (Berkeley’s will serve beer and wine, but its license doesn’t cover liquor.)
Because Berkeley’s came together during the pandemic, Marc Hudacsko said they were able to develop the restaurant around contemporary concerns. For instance, they’re renovating the space to maximize outdoor seating and only offering food that performs well when given the takeout treatment.
“The cheesesteak is actually better after a few minutes,” he said.
Additionally, Berkeley’s will have a small retail section for to-go customers seeking locally made provisions to round out their dinners, such as Tiller Baking Co. bread or Jack Rudy Tonic Syrup.
The Hudacskos are aiming to open Berkeley’s in May, but allow that projected opening dates are never guaranteed. They’ve already run up against a few permitting delays related to the pandemic.
John Berkeley, first Baron Berkeley of Stratton, might not have been so cautious. He was “the hottest, fiery man in discourse, without any cause,” according to legendary diarist Samuel Pepys.