Last we’d heard from Chef Brett McKee he was hosting a birthday party for Bill Murray in Jedburg (click here for video evidence). But this morning we learned that it hasn’t been all movie-star hangouts for the former chef of Oak Steakhouse. He’s been hard at work. 

Today McKee announced his plan to open his own event space at 139-B Market Street, right between City Lights Coffee and Sweetwater Cafe. Interestingly, the space is just a heartbeat away from Chef Bob Waggoner’s new cooking school In the Kitchen at 164-A Market St. Perhaps the harbingers of Market Street’s doom are wrong after all. 

From a press release we’ve learned that 139-B Market is three levels and can accommodate up to 200 guests. “The first floor has an open floor plan with exposed Charleston brick, beautiful hardwood floors … The second floor lounge and mezzanine is the gateway to a luxurious third-floor private rooftop terrace overlooking the city,” the release reads. And McKee is now taking reservations for all events including bridal luncheons, rehearsal dinners, cooking classes, private dinners, etc. 

Since leaving the restaurant business, McKee has been operating as a personal chef and the experience exposed him to what he feels was a better side of service. “I realized, when I do intimate stuff, I leave with friends,” he says. “I thought, ‘How can I get back to that?'” 139-B Market, where he’d done some private events for the past owner for years, seemed to be the answer. So, together with his partner Kathy Downey, the two have launched the business. 

And in another new development, McKee also plans to open the space as a private dining and social club. “We’re only going to have 150 members,” McKee says. The idea was hatched from his experience growing up in Brooklyn where big group dinners were common. “It all revolved food, fellowship, wine,” he says.

For his own club, the plan is to reclaim some of that community feel. “It’ll be a circle of people who don’t want to get drunk and sloppy. I want it to be people who can network and support each other,” he says. Members will automatically be included in two scheduled dinners, two rooftop events, and two brunches. In addition, they’ll have access to the building’s two bedrooms and rooftop terrace. The price of membership is $1,000 a year.

“The space rents for $1,500 during the week, $3,000 on the weekend — that’s if they hire me to cook. If not, that’s a different price. But if one of the members wants to book it, they get $500 off,” McKee explains. 

McKee has already tapped into the city’s booming wedding market thanks to the added bonus of offering a bride and groom one of the properties’ bedrooms as a bridal suite. “Then, if they want breakfast in the morning, we’ll send someone in to have that ready for them the day after the wedding,” he says. 

McKee acknowledges that in his early career he earned something of a reputation as a bigger-than-life personality. But whatever truth there was to that, he says this calmer version of himself is the real Brett. “This project is just two single parents maintaining six kids, and a granddaughter, and we’re open to something new and innovative,” he says. “I’d rather be the innovator than imitator.” 

No hard dates for either opening were given. To stay tuned on developments, visit

YouTube video

Love Best of Charleston?

Help the Charleston City Paper keep Best of Charleston going every year with a donation. Or sign up to become a member of the Charleston City Paper club.