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Founding pitmaster takes over ownership of popular Charleston-area barbecue chain

Swig & Swine

Pitmaster Anthony DiBernardo, shown lifting the lid on the smoker, has taken over Queen Street Hospitality's shares in Swig & Swine. Grace Beahm/Staff

By buying out his partners in Swig & Swine, pitmaster Anthony DiBernardo has made good on a 30-year-old promise.

Alongside his senior picture in the 1989 Clearview High School yearbook, DiBernardo announced his intentions to serve four years in the military and own a restaurant. The Mantua, N.J., native quickly achieved the former by joining the Navy, which put him to work cooking on submarines but didn’t fulfill the latter ambition until this week, when he took over Queen Street Hospitality’s shares in the 6-year-old barbecue chain.

“It’s always been my dream,” says DiBernardo, who previously controlled 50 percent of the business.

According to DiBernardo, Queen Street Hospitality Group’s decision to back away from Swig & Swine was rooted in owner Steve Kish’s desire to retire. “This was one of the first steps,” he says, stressing that Kish has been active in the local restaurant community since 1982 when he opened 82 Queen.

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Queen Street Hospitality also operates a catering company and Florence’s Lowcountry Kitchen, which briefly functioned as Swig & Swine’s downtown outpost. Swig & Swine now has three restaurants, in West Ashley, Mount Pleasant and Summerville.

DiBernardo says he has no immediate plans to add additional locations. Because he developed the brand and owned half of the business from the start, it already reflects his vision. “Infrastructure doesn’t change; we’re keeping the same staff,” he says. “The only thing that changes is no Queen Street Hospitality.”

He adds, “It’s always been on the horizon. Now is just the time.”

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

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