Chef and restaurateur Ken Vedrinski is busy. He owns and operates the peninsula’s intimate Tuscan restaurant Trattoria Lucca and Isle of Palms’ oceanside Italian spot Coda Del Pesce in addition to being involved in a couple of projects in Grand Cayman.
With his newest venture, Binky’s Seaside Oyster and Liquor Bar, Vedrinski says he wants to get away from the chef-driven, high-end concepts he’s already successfully fostered in the city.
Located beneath Coda at 1130 Ocean Blvd. — the space occupied by Banana Cabana for nearly three decades until December 2018 — Binky’s will be reminiscent of the “coolest, funkiest” bars on the water of the Florida panhandle. Vedrinski points out that, other than Shem Creek restaurants and Fleet Landing, there aren’t a whole lot of waterfront dining options in the Lowcountry.
“The big deck out back, we raised it like 30 inches so you can see the water, overlooking the dunes,” says Vedrinski.
Inside there will be more than 60 seats, with a simple menu consisting of East Coast oysters (duh) and fried seafood — “local, but that’s a given” — and some sandwiches. They’ll get creative with a grouper salisbury steak, with the fish served over mashed taters and brown sauce, and a blue crab grilled cheese. Don’t expect craft cocktails, though, or a huge draft beer wall. “We’re not that kind of place,” says Vedrinski.
They’ll have cold canned brews, liquor, and three different wines — nothing Italian. “It’s going to be a fun funky place, we’re not looking for Beard awards, or for anyone to come in and rate us,” says Vedrinski.
[pullquote-1] He’s hoping they can open up in time for the summer rush, around Memorial Day or early June. He’s also hoping they draw a large local crowd, and is even instituting a special “locals’ price” on the liquor menu. Tourists will pay just a little bit more, “maybe 50 cents,” says Vedrinski. “Being on the beach, it’s not liked it used to be, it’s not super seasonal. You see people all the time, we have a great local following [at Coda], we want to reward those people … it’s someone you see once a year versus someone you see once a week.”
Vedrinski thinks the special locals’ price will encourage some fun banter, and he notes that if the bartender is serving a tourist and thinks they’re pretty cool, they can be awarded the discounted drink. “There are no rules, it’s completely up to the bartender,” he says.
As far as aesthetics, Vedrinski says they’ll have TVs for the sports and music played through coconut speakers. And beach bums — feel free to keep on that wet, sandy bathing suit. “If you come in with sweaty shorts and a T-shirt and smell like Coppertone, awesome.”
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