Newk’s Express Cafe could be coming to Charleston by early next year, making its first entry into South Carolina.

Known for its healthy salads, it also offers made-to-order pizzas, sandwiches, soups and homemade cakes made by Newk’s Bakery Co.

A selection of wines by the glass and beer is also available.

The new restaurant will be the product of Braxton Rowe and business partners Todd Pennington and Jim Newton. They have signed on to open five restaurants in Charleston and Savannah over the next three to five years.

They hope to open their first location in the first quarter of 2013.

Rowe, who will be the operating partner in the deal, owns three Moe’s Southwest Grill restaurants in Atlanta, Athens and Columbus, Ga., and is building another in Columbus.

Since opening its first location in Oxford, Miss., in 2004, Newk’s Express Cafe has expanded to 11 states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

Newk’s has about 50 restaurants. More than 40 are franchised. Five new restaurants opened in 2010 and 15 opened in 2011. Projections call for 20 restaurants to open in 2012 and 32 in 2013.

Gennaro’s Italian Ristorante in North Charleston is adding a second location.

The 30-year-old restaurant, which started in West Ashley, is aiming to open Gennaro’s Little Italy at 1280 Sam Rittenberg Blvd., back in its old stomping grounds, by the third week of July. The opening date depends on licensing, inspections, etc.

The site near Bi-Lo and GDC Home Interiors once held Senor Tequila, a Mexican restaurant that closed earlier this year.

Gennaro’s started on Savannah Highway before opening a second location at 8500 Dorchester Road in 1991. The original restaurant closed in 1995, according to Jimmy Gennaro, one of the managers at the family-owned restaurant.

The Drake School of Irish Dance, based in Atlanta, is coming to Charleston. The school is renting space at Catalyst Creative Arts Studio at 13 Amy Elsey Drive in West Ashley. Summer camp is set for July 9-12. Fall classes start Aug. 13.

Jack’s Cosmic Dogs has teamed up with Sep Harvin of the Williamsburg Packing Co. in Kingstree to produce four new locally made sausages just in time for July, which is National Hot Dog Month.

New product items will include a bratwurst, all-beef kielbasa, chicken chorizo and a hot Italian.

Toppings include Jack’s favorites with added condiments such as Jack’s barbecue sauce, Jack’s zippy onion relish and the new Mango Peppa ketchup.

Jack’s Cosmic Dogs is in Mount Pleasant, James Island and West Ashley. It’s open 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. daily.

Do you know of a business that is opening, closing or expanding? Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or