Hide your wives, hide your kids because big bad chef John Currence is coming to the Eastside with his Big Bad Breakfast concept. The James Beard Award-winning chef says this will be the sixth location for the restaurant that got its start in Oxford, Miss.
“I’ve never been first to the table at anything in my career,” says Currence, “And it just dawned on me about 10 years ago that nobody had addressed breakfast and was giving it the attention it deserved.”
He grew a loyal following in Oxford serving up a chef-inspired slate of eggs, skillets, burgers, short stacks and more. It’s a casual brunch all day sort of place.
“We’ve been lucky,” says Currence. “We did it for five years before Nick came along and said let’s lock arms.”
Nick is Nick Pihakis of Jim N’ Nick’s Bar-B-Q, which expanded from an initial Birmingham restaurant to an empire with dozens of locations. Pihakis is an expert in the fast-casual space and recognizes a good concept when he sees one.
“He helped mold BBB into what I always wanted it to be,” says Currence, who admits to being a nostalgic hoarder who let his menu at Oxford get bogged down with old favorites. “Oxford remains its own little entity.” The first expansion location was opened in Birmingham, Ala. in 2014 and a second Birmingham spot opened a few weeks ago, followed by more locations in Florida and Alabama.
Pihakis found a good location in Charleston and showed it to Currence a few months back. The partners have been in town this week meeting with architects and the city to discuss plans for transforming the old Simply Fashions at 456 Meeting St. into Big Bad Breakfast.
“It’s an architectural gem,” deadpans Currence. “It’s funny dealing with the [Board of Architectural Review] and all these concerns about what we’re going to preserve. There is nothing historically significant about it unless your nostalgia runs from 1976 to about 1983.”
He also took time to visit the nearby Methodist church and speak to the pastor. “To let her know what we’re doing, and give her a little jump on the info before she gets concerned for her flock that sin peddlers are moving in down the street.”
The plan is to begin demolition in the next couple weeks and start construction once they get all the permitting in place.
Currence says the BBB concept is flexible enough to be tailored a bit to each location. He says they’ll incorporate local seafood and as many local products as possible into the menu. “I’m eating Geechee mill grits right now that I’m in love with,” says the chef, who may not know that the guy who makes those grits is also opening a breakfast concept downtown in the next few months. It seems like all-day breakfast will become a staple offering in Charleston this year, while Currence has his own plans for making BBB a staple across the South with many more locations planned in the coming years.