Xiao Bao owners Joshua Walker and Joey Ryan emphasized that the project is still in the exploratory stage, citing cautionary tales of other people’s restaurants that were touted prematurely; they declined to comment on what they have in mind for 428-430 Meeting Street.
“I think this is really a great new take on that part of Meeting Street,” board member Glen Gardner said prior to the vote.
The restaurant site is located immediately north of Hot Mustard, the Chinese take-out restaurant at the corner of Meeting and Woolfe streets. It would encompass both an existing single house and new construction. Architect Kenny Craft described making “fairly minor” modifications to the single house, which he plans to fuse with a greenhouse-type structure.
“You would sort of see a glow from the windows harkening to the garden house beyond,” he explained.
Representatives of the Historic Charleston Foundation and The Preservation Society of Charleston questioned the precise nature of the connector between buildings, but generally applauded the proposal.
Details regarding the restaurant were scant, but there were hints that Walker and Ryan are envisioning something lovely. Speakers who had been briefed on the project repeatedly used the word “elegant” to describe it, and Walker talked about allowing diners to reserve tables in the single house. Xiao Bao Biscuit has a firm no-reservations policy.
“We understand everyone is concerned with how the old meets new,” Walker said. “We saw that house as a special opportunity: It would be like coming into a private residence. For us, that was part of the experience we wanted to evoke.”
Upper Meeting Street was a popular topic at the meeting: Following the presentation on the restaurant project, the board weighed changes to the signage and paint color of Church’s Chicken.