Just a few years after taking his talents downtown, chef Alex Lira is headed back to James Island to help open his own restaurant.

Last Thursday,  James Island’s “shabby speakeasy” Bowties announced that after a little under two years in business, they were closing up shop. According to a Facebook post from Bowties’ owners, the spot, located at 1956 Maybank Hwy. in the Terrace Plaza, will undergo some renovations from new owners and will re-open as Bar George later this year.

Owners/investors for the new spot include former Bar Normandy chef Alex Lira, who will also serve as executive chef at the Spring Street tapas joint Estadio, opening this fall; as well as Chico Feo’s Hank Weed; Philip “surfer Phil” Lawrence, who Lira has known “forever and ever” and who also worked at Bar Normandy; longtime industry supporter John Griffiths; and two yet-to-be named “amazing” bartenders who are currently employed at “established” downtown joints according to Lira.

Lira will be overseeing operations at Bar George, which is named in honor of his late uncle and Norfolk, Va. “hot dog king” George Bacalis, but he notes he will be focusing his culinary energy on Estadio. Lira says Lawrence will serve as chef at Bar George. For the past few months, Lawrence has been working in the Northeast, “cutting up fish” and dialing in his fish butchery skills. So expect bomb crudo and expertly shucked bivalves, plus uncle George inspired-‘dogs.

Lira says Bar George will have a full bar, serving some refreshing, beachy, rum-centric cocktails that pair well with his favorite “summer-y” food items, oysters and hot dogs. They plan to be open six days a week from 4 p.m.-until.

Lira lives nearby in Riverland Terrace and says that he wants to give back to his neighborhood the best way he knows how.

“I want to start branching out from the downtown thing, it’s starting to remind me of Manhattan, being unapproachable,” says Lira. “With Paddock [& Whisky], Kwei Fei, Crust, Seanachai, people are moving in that direction. I want to pioneer it up with them.”

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