Robert Dickson (copy)

For three days in September, Robert Dickson will transform Saint James Church into his former restaurant, Robert's of Charleston. He retired after more than three decades in the restaurant business. The unique dining experience featured gourmet food along with Dickson's singing.

Nearly a decade after the beloved restaurant closed, Robert’s of Charleston is returning for a three-day stint this fall.

Robert Dickson, the opera singing chef, hosted an array of celebrities, tourists and locals at his namesake restaurant, which he ran from 1976-2010.

Since closing its doors, Dickson has returned to the singing and cooking stage only a handful of times, including a 2017 dinner during the Charleston Wine + Food festival.

Dickson’s food and Broadway show tunes are coming back for a close-to-home cause: his church.

He is hosting three dinners Sept. 13-15 at Saint James Church on James Island, where Dickson is a member, to raise money for the church choir’s upcoming residency at Carlisle Cathedral in England.

When Saint James choirmaster Chris Walchesky began brainstorming fundraiser ideas for the group’s 2020 trip, he immediately thought, “How can Robert help?”

“Robert has such a name and presence, so I thought people would come out for that, especially since it’s an experience they haven’t had in nine years,” Walchesky said. “It’s a little different than selling candy bars or something else we could be doing.”

They then started planning the intimate six-course dinners, which will likely look familiar to patrons who have visited Robert’s of Charleston. The menu includes scallop mousse with lobster sauce, breast of duckling with raspberry sauce, Chateaubriand steak with Béarnaise sauce and chocolate chestnut torte, plus wine and other drinks. A wine reception and silent auction precedes the dinner.

“We are going to replicate the restaurant as best we can,” Dickson said. 

Meals are limited to 40 people per night and tickets cost $100 per person. Reservations can be made by calling 843-714-9502.

Robert’s of Charleston opened in 1976 on Market Street and later moved to East Bay Street. Dickson ran it with the help of his wife, Pam, and later their daughter, MariElena Raya. After it closed, Raya transformed the restaurant’s final location into The Gin Joint, which since has been taken over by new owners.

Dickson said he’ll have help from his family members and other volunteers at Saint James.

“I’ll be a big undertaking,” he said. "I'll be focused on singing and supervising."

Still, he said, he’s excited to return, in a way, to the restaurant he ran for 34 years.

“It’s the rush of doing something you’re good at,” Dickson said. “It’s like going back to your favorite sport, or whatever you did well in your life.”

Reach Amanda Hancock at 843-937-5320. Follow her on Twitter @Amanda1hancock.

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