Although Charleston Bakery and Deli stays open until 9 p.m. most days, the Summerville restaurant's menu doesn't change in the evening: Customers have always had to select a salad or sandwich and call it dinner.
Now, though, the deli is readying to institute full-fledged dinner service. Come February 11, Charleston Bakery and Deli will feature an entrée menu eight months in the making.
"We're very successful," owner Randy Jarvis says. "But the true test is: Can we do dinner?"
According to Jarvis, the menu incorporates nostalgic childhood favorites, such as lobster Cantonese, and a few of his current obsessions, including barbecue shrimp and pho.
"We're going to knock it out of the park," Jarvis says of the Vietnamese beef noodle soup, noting that he plans to use real broth, as opposed to the powdered starter associated with inferior pho houses.
Charleston Bakery and Deli specializes in traditional Jewish dishes, but Jarvis - who serves a BLT by day - doesn't plan to practice "kosher-style" cooking at night. (While "kosher" entails a rigid set of dietary restrictions, "kosher-style" refers to food that could plausibly be kosher, but isn't: The century-old cuisine makes room for uncertified ingredients and forbidden foods - so long as they're effectively disguised.)
In addition to shrimp and lobster, Jarvis will offer seven different bowls of mussels and seven different clam bowls.
Jarvis, 56, grew up boiling bagels at his father's North Miami Beach bakery. "Without gloves!," he says. "Gloves were for sissies." That impatience for frills is evident in his current approach to kitchen matters.
"We're not throwing any drips on a plate," he says. "We're not hiring a chef."
But Jarvis is hiring servers, and equipping them with iPads for order-taking.
"They have to have talent and passion," Jarvis says of the people he's looking to hire. "I'm very passionate."
Charleston Bakery and Deli is located at 10597 Summerville Road. For more information, call 875-0630, or visit charlestonbakeryanddeli.com.