Photo by Rūta Smith

Changes are once again afoot at the grocery-turned-cafe-turned-frosé empire known as The Co-Op on Sullivan’s Island. You may already know Chad, but it’s time to meet Brad and set your GPS for a whole new Co-Op, as the city’s self-proclaimed Frosé King gets set to move to Isle of Palms.

The Co-Op has been ever-changing over its time on the least-busy island beach near Charleston, according to owner Jess Patterson (the aforementioned king). The “small island shop with a chip on [their] shoulder” has become something of an icon in the Charleston area. The shop is known for its chatty and comedic beach-party vibe, which can be easily understood through a quick scroll of their eccentric Instagram page. 

Think plastic pink flamingos overflowing with frosé, juicy sandwich pics and an owner so committed to the brand he dyes his hair pink, flaunts a pink suit jacket and rides around on a pink moped all in the name of boundary-pushing DIY social media marketing. 

Photo by Rūta Smith

While the party-forward Co-Op brand may be the face of the shop, it’s backed up by classic sandwiches (think pimento, egg ‘n cheese and BLTs), morning coffee and frosé galore. Although the shop claims the title of “Frosé and Eatery,” it also sells beer and wine to go, suntan lotion, Co-Op merch, local goods and more.

For many of the Co-Op faithful, it’s not just about getting a sandwich to-go or picking up a magnum of frosé for the pool party. The shop invites customers to be part of the Co-Op community, as long as they like to make fun of anything and everything along with the staff. 

In many ways, “the customers dictated what Sullivan’s is,” said Patterson. He gives credit to the shop’s flexibility over the years for its near-decade residency in the petite café space. Even today, the Co-Op is constantly evolving. On weekday mornings it’s a spot to relax and drink coffee outside, maybe chat for an hour or two. Come lunchtime, they’re churning out sandwiches as customers stock up for the beach. When the weekend comes, the shop juggles whatever is thrown at it and serves as a sort of one-in-all beach day prep shop.

Patterson is the one behind The Co-Op’s rambling, ridiculous social media posts | Photo by Rūta Smith

With the Sullivan’s shop thriving and COVID shifting the operation to take-out-only, the team decided to throw two new ventures into the business; opening a new location on Isle of Palms (located in the Harris Teeter shopping center), and debuting Brad the Frosé Trailer. 

Patterson said the COVID takeout-only model was so efficient for them, they recognized a new potential for their company and landed on opening the second location on IOP. While their Sullivan’s location is quick counter service, there’s nothing quick about finding parking on Sullivan’s. Patterson cited these parking difficulties and the nature of Sullivan’s itself as a slower island than IOP and Folly, that has shaped the Sullivan’s shop into what it is today. 

Their new Isle of Palms shop will serve up much of the Co-Op favorites, offering “breakfast and lunch as usual” but with a “tighter, more simplified menu.” Patterson emphasizes efficiency as the goal for the new IOP shop, highlighting their focus on online ordering.

The goal is this: you’re 10 minutes out from the beach, you place your mobile order on the Co-Op website (BLT, potato chips and a 16 oz frosé, maybe), pull into the lot, hop out, skip the line, put a couple of bucks in the tip jar cause you’re cool like that, grab the bag with your name on it, then boom you’re off to the beach, stocked up on Co-Op goodies. 

The IOP location will also have a frosé upgrade. Where the Sullivan’s location has 12 flavors rolling at a time, the IOP shop will be rocking 20 flavors to satisfy all of your wine-slushie needs. That’s 20 flavors that can be bought in a variety of sizes, all of which come sealed and ready for to-go activities. They offer a 16 ounce personal frosé bottle for when you don’t want to share, a 24 ounce bottle for date night, and a 1.5-liter magnum to establish yourself the Frosé King or Queen of your own party. Customers are free to choose, but we recommend the magnum, because what’s cooler than showing up to literally anything with a magnum bottle of frosé? 

Maybe you don’t drink alcohol, or you’re looking to chill on the sauce for a little bit, luckily the Co-Op also offers non-alcoholic frosé. Patterson says the hope is to delegate one machine to specifically spin non-alcoholic choices, but the demand is so high they have trouble finding non-alcoholic rosé at times. The non-alcoholic potion is nearly identical to their original strawberry-based frosé, just hold the booze. Patterson says he’s “always up for someone not drinking,” and looks forward to the day their non-alcoholic frosé is in constant rotation with multiple flavors. 

Brad the Frosé Trailer — appropriately named, but not a blood relative to Chad the Pink Flamingo — is bringing frosé to weddings, graduation parties, pool parties, or any other party in need of frosé services. The trailer is equipped with four machines, potentially providing eight different flavors, and beer and wine service available upon request. Keep in mind, Brad is a drinks-only-trailer, but will also be serving up the Co-Op attitude. Brad will show up to the party towed by a pink Jeep, music bumping, and frosé-a-flowing. Why just frosé you ask? Because “frosé is the best thing we do,” said Patterson. In a time where weddings and social events have become purveyors of boutique oyster roasts, Champagne bars and whole-hog celebrations, Patterson hopes their trailer can add another fun element to the Charleston catering scene. 

So whether you’re stopping by the Sullivan’s location for a coffee, sliding through the IOP shop with an online order, or booking Brad for your next party, remember that frosé can still give you a brain freeze, so chug accordingly.

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