A few weeks ago, a rumor was circulating that a big-name four-star chef was coming to the crowded downtown scene. Turns out that chef is Nathan Thurston of the venerable Ocean Room at the Sanctuary.

Over the last couple of years, Thurston, a 2005 grad of Johnson & Wales, has become an important player in the farm-to-table movement, supporting the local food community by using as much product as he can get his hands on.

Now, he’s coming downtown to participate a little more directly in Charleston’s dining world. It reminds me of when Nathan Whiting made the jump from Woodlands — a five-star property — to Tristan. Downtown is just going to be more local, more vibrant, and probably more fun than working out in those fancy resorts.

I’ve been playing phone tag with owner Keith Jones, but I’ll be getting a tour of the space and some more information soon. In the meantime, here’s the basics: the restaurant — called Stars — will be located in the old antique mall at 495 King St. It will feature a wood-fired oven and a plancha. It will open sometime in mid-April. Jones’ partners in the venture are Bill Upson of San Francisco and Bill Blalock of Charleston.

David Thompsons architectural sketches
  • David Thompson’s architectural sketches

Architect David Thompson is working on the design of the big space, and Brett McKee is notably absent from the plans, even though a few months back he was connecting himself to the project on Facebook. (McKee has since surfaced at Eli’s Table on Meeting Street… more on that later.)

Looks like Upper King’s transformation from Design District to hip restaurant and nightlife zone is nearly complete.

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