Lorraine and Antwan Smalls | Andrew Cebulka

The Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) is continuing to advocate for the local restaurant community, and it’s now asking the Small Business Association (SBA) to refill the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. During a Thursday conference call, My Three Sons co-owner Antwan Smalls, of North Charleston, was one of three restaurant owners to share thoughts on just how dire the situation still is for independent bars and eateries. 

Just 101,004 restaurants out of the 278,000 that applied received funding through the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, according to the IRC. But, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act, introduced in the House and Senate, could provide an additional $60 billion in funding. So far, 181 members of the House and 13 members of the Senate have co-sponsored the bill. 

“As things have opened up, we have found ways around navigating the shortfalls from the pandemic. Now, those means are coming to an end,” Smalls said on the call. “This relief fund would give us some breathing room and right the wrongs of the last year. I would ask Sens. Graham and Scott to assist in any way they can with allowing this fund to pass to ensure that the restaurants that are still alive will not fall to the wayside.” 

Smalls, his mother Lorraine (head chef) and Alice Warren opened My Three Sons in a North Charleston shopping strip on East Montague Avenue in 2014, and in January 2020, they moved to a stand-alone brick-and-mortar at 5237 Dorchester Road. 

“We were literally in the process of opening, and everything shut down,” Smalls told the City Paper Friday. “We had some catering that sustained us, but it still wasn’t enough because moving into a new space also meant new expenses.” 

My Three Sons is located in a former KFC on Dorchester Road | Andrew Cebulka, provided

The new space, a former KFC, officially opened after the 2020 shutdown, when Smalls said his wife came up with the idea to utilize the drive-thru window. They’re still using it today, and they were also able to add a new website during the pandemic, giving customers the ability to order online

“I will say being in the Liberty Hill community, we built up a huge following there, and one of the things I’m thankful for is social media and word of mouth,” Smalls said. “Some of our old customers are still finding out about us.” 

Since moving into the larger space, expenses have increased, and so has costs. Oxtails, an occasional My Three Sons special, have gone from $6 to $9 per pound, and the price of chicken goes up every week, Smalls said. 

“We’re getting the same amount of supplies and food, but at the same time, the cost to get those goods has gone up significantly,” said Smalls, adding that he feels like he’s standing in quicksand. “Even though we think we’re moving, we’re not.” 

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