When it’s all said and done, The Ordinary will have 100 seats, a mezzanine overlooking the first floor dining room, and one very large bar with room for 20. But right now, the new oyster hall being built by Mike Lata and Adam Nemirow of FIG is a massive, gutted bank building with a lot of work still to be done.

  • Mike Lata standing where the bar will soon be

Last week, Lata gave me a hard-hat tour of the space at 554 King St., which is brimming with potential. The partners purchased the building last January and began gutting it as soon as they had a plan in place, courtesy of their architect David Thompson. Getting rid of the bank vault was a two-month challenge. “This thing was all river rock and rebar,” Lata says. They’ll be keeping and refurbishing the vault door, using it as a centerpiece of the raw bar.

Interestingly, one rejected name for the Ordinary was Herring Hall. See the name on the lock:

  • Behind the vault door

Despite the cursed bank vault door, the building has proven to hold many treasures, including a soaring ceiling with crown molding and a glass skylight that was hidden by an ugly drop ceiling. The windows are also a stunning architectural detail, flooding the space with light.

  • The drop ceiling stopped where the color changes

The centerpiece of the restaurant will be the raw bar, where you’ll probably see Lata spending some time shucking. The oyster selection will range from local Capers Blade to May River with some New England species as well. Lata would like to keep the focus on East Coast waters, but is open to some West Coast bivalves. It all depends on quality and availability.

The seafood will be given very simple preparations: baked, steamed, gratin, scallopini of grouper. Lata says they will probably include a soup and salad with the entrée price in a nod to the name, Ordinary, which refers to a restaurant that serves a full meal at a fixed price.

  • Big windows define the exterior

When they first announced the project, Lata and Nemirow said they’d be open by September. Now that the reality of the project has sunk in, Lata’s being much cagier with an opening date, saying only, “Hopefully Decemberish.”

Stay cool. Support City Paper.

City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.