Rudy Royale Instagram

The management teams behind Semilla, Street Bird Westside, Stars Restaurant and Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar are teaming up for Rudy Royale, a fried chicken-inspired downtown restaurant. After opening with limited hours last week, the East Bay Street eatery will host a grand opening July 1, co-owner Jillian Schenzel told the City Paper.

Schenzel, her brother Mcready Downer, Bill Upson and Heather Greene will lead Rudy Royale — Schenzel and Downer will handle the food and beverage side, while Upson and Greene will manage the restaurant. Former Stars owner Keith Jones, who died in April 2021, first approached Schezel and Downer about a potential partnership in 2020, Schenzel said. 

“It really started out as a casual business partnership,” said Schenzel, who owns Semilla, Street Bird Westside and Charleston Burger Company, which share a President Street brick-and-mortar called Bodega Todo, with Downer. “It quickly turned into an idea to do something together. He loved our fried chicken and thought all the stuff we were doing with mobile was really unique.” 

Downer and Schenzel | Bodega Todo Instagram

At Bodega Todo, customers can place contactless orders using their phones, and this service will also be available at Rudy Royale, although the restaurant will have a full waitstaff. 

“We wanted to focus on how people are eating, giving guests more ways to order and different options in a more casual environment,” Schenzel said. 

Located in the space previously occupied by Pawpaw and Sipango, two restaurant concepts that were owned by Jones, the restaurant is an ode to the restaurateur, whose nickname was Rudy.

Rudy Royale’s fried chicken is made using a recipe specific to the Lowcountry-inspired restaurant, which serves whole, half and two-piece chicken meals, along with fried chicken sandwiches and tenders. There’s also macaroni and cheese, cast-iron cornbread, charbroiled oysters and more on the shareable menu. 

Rudy Royale specializes in fried chicken | Rudy Royale Instagram

Rudy Royale is bringing something different to East Bay Street — Schenzel hopes the food offering and atmosphere will attract a local crowd to a part of town that’s frequented by tourists.

“We’re in really good company, and we have so much respect for those restaurants,” said Schenzel, referring to the celebrated restaurants lining East Bay Street that are popular among tourists. “But the district is driven by tourism, and we want the locals to be going down there.”

Rudy Royale is open for lunch and dinner Thursday-Sunday, and it will expand its hours after July 1. For more information, visit

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