Business weighs anchor

The Buccaneer restaurant on Faber Street in downtown Charleston closed Wednesday after only a couple of years.

Queen Anne's Revenge opened on Daniel Island in 2001 a week after the 9/11 attacks, and the restaurant not only survived but continues to thrive.

In late 2008, the same company, Neighborhood Dining Group, opened the pirate-themed Buccaneer restaurant in downtown Charleston shortly after the financial market meltdown.

At the time, company President David Howard said, "Opening a restaurant at any time is a tremendous challenge, but we are optimistic things will come around."

They didn't.

The 220-seat, Faber Street restaurant closed Wednesday, another victim of the sputtering economy.

"We opened right at the downturn of the economy, and that was unfortunate," Howard said. "The truth is we opened a large seating-capacity, family-style restaurant, and that formula is not working for us. It's too big a space for what we are trying to do. We stayed the course and gave it a shot, but it's not working."

Howard said summer business was generally good in the 6,500-square-foot space during its two-year run, but it was not enough to keep the restaurant open long-term. The owners tweaked the concept earlier this year to tavern-style dining to increase sales, but it didn't catch on.

"We did everything in our power to make the restaurant successful and, unfortunately, it was not successful enough," Howard said. "It's a very tough business climate. I don't see any event that's going to occur in the next six months that's going to make a significant positive impact."

The Neighborhood Dining Group hopes to reopen the space early next year as a totally new venture.

"We have no idea what it will be yet," Howard said.

And as for what will happen to all those period pirate artifacts, he said, "That's a good question."

The Buccaneer is owned by Tony Bakker, founder of Daniel Island-based software company Blackbaud Inc., real estate developer Anthony McAlister, and former Blackbaud executives Gary Thornhill, Tim Smith and Nigel Cooper.

Neighborhood Dining Group also manages Bakker-owned McCrady's Restaurant and Queen Anne's Revenge.

Howard said he will try to place as many of the 20 employees at the Buccaneer as possible in the other company-owned facilities, including Husk Restaurant, a farm-to-table concept set to open on Queen Street in November.

Reach Warren Wise at 937-5524.