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Plus: Charleston Mulls New Booze Laws

Changes are afoot in Columbia’s food and beverage world: Fulvio Valsecchi, owner and chef at classic Italian restaurant Ristorante Divino, has sold the business to longtime chef Henry Griffin, Mike Deevey and Bertrand Gilli. (If Griffin and Deevey’s names are familiar, it’s because they also own The Kingsman, a West Columbia old-school favorite.) Divino will undergo some renovations at the beginning of July, after which it’ll reopen with an updated menu, plus a new look for the restaurant and the staff. We recently tried a sous vide pork tenderloin with bacon jam atop a bed of chard that bodes quite well for the new menu.

Café Caturra has closed; in its place will be a restaurant called Tazza, a Virginia-based chain with an upscale-bistro aesthetic.

MoMo’s Bistro closed a few weeks ago. In its place, according to The State, will be an Eggs Up Grill, a local chain you may have become familiar with while at one of South Carolina’s beaches.

And Goatfeathers, after many years in business, has closed. Maybe. The Five Points bar’s last day of operation was Saturday, May 31, but owner Jeff Helsley also told Free Times it might reopen soon. Either way, Helsley is moving to Hawaii. Want to see a photo gallery of Goats’ last night in business? Visit free-times.com.

Charleston Mulls New Booze Laws

Speaking of changes afoot in the food and beverage world, strange things are happening down in Charleston, where City Council has taken an initial vote to stop new bars and restaurants from being able to sell alcohol after midnight — in certain areas of downtown, at least.

The Entertainment District Overlay Zone would only apply to future businesses, and requires two more votes to pass.

For a city with such a vibrant restaurant culture, it seems a strange move — but Council members say it’s needed. Mayor Joe Riley and the police chief wrote in a letter to Council, “We believe we are close to a tipping point in terms of the late-night and early-morning bar related activity and challenges in our city.” Neighborhoods near downtown have complained about noise around bar-closing time. Several technology firms planning to move to downtown Charleston are also among those “concerned about the downtown Charleston nightlife scene,” according to the Charleston Regional Business Journal. The firms have declined to identify themselves, but have approached city leaders about their worries.

If it seems like this idea came out of nowhere, it kind of did: City officials have told media they didn’t want to discuss it with restaurant and bar folks first because they didn’t want a rush on new business licenses while the law was pending.

The only councilman to oppose the law, Dean Riegel, told the Post and Courier, “Philosophically, I have a problem with this. It’s like we’re turning into a living, working museum of history. We’re the No. 1 tourist city in the country, and we got that way for a reason. I think we can handle this.”

Charleston problems? Maybe. But it just goes to show you: Keep an eye on City Hall.

The Kraken Reaches Its Tentacles Into Sunday Brunch

The Kraken Gastropub will begin offering brunch, which kicks off this Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Brunch items include a fried softshell crab benedict, catfish and grits (featuring Congaree Milling Co. grits, which are actually milled on site at The Kraken), and tomato pie. The gastropub will also be getting some of Quest Brewing’s jalapeño and cucumber saison, which probably goes pretty well with brunch foods. The Kraken is at 2910 Rosewood Dr.

Drip Loves You

It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since Drip first opened its doors on Saluda Avenue — it’s become such a part of the life of the city. Well, those three years are up, and on Tuesday, June 10, the coffee shop will be giving away a cup of free coffee to each customer to celebrate its anniversary. Stop on by.

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