Jonathan Boncek file photo

Restaurants aim to please the masses, but how many serve oysters, martinis, local vegetables and, for good measure, hot dogs? With an offering unlike most in Charleston, Bar George ha been bringing those items and more to James Island since opening on May 23.

The ownership team is made up of a group of friends and industry veterans who wanted to open a neighborhood restaurant with a vibe mirroring that of downtown establishments. Executive chef Alex Lira, chef Philip Lawrence (aka “Surfer Phil”) and bar managers Joey Goetz and Brad Cline make up the team running the day-to-day operations at Bar George, located at 1956 Maybank Hwy. Chico Feo owner Hank Weed and John Griffith are also partners on the project.

“We’re trying to be the connector for downtown and the James Island folks,” said Lira, who’s also the chef at Estadio on Spring Street. “We want to find the oasis between two lovely places.”

[image-1] Fittingly, the menu also bridges the gap between highbrow bites and neighborhood joint staples. Find Tarvin Seafood shrimp tacos and squash crudo on one table, while another patron might be sinking their teeth into a snappy Norfolk-style hot dog.

“We wanted to take the pretension out of prices and dining experience,” said Lira. “Our prices are approachable.”

Peruvian half chicken ($17), Johns Island potatoes and broccoli for the table ($15) and a hot dog with green chiles and pineapple ($6) are just that. Utilizing nearby purveyors like Spade & Clover Gardens and Rooting Down Farms adds the intended sophistication to Lira’s farm-driven menu.

According to Joey Goetz and Brad Cline, Lira’s menu lends itself to fun, vibrant cocktails.

[image-2] “Brad and I are from The Belmont and come from a whiskey background, but we wanted to bring something different to this strip,” said Goetz, who spent seven years at the King Street cocktail lounge before leaving to help open Bar George. “We felt that a rum and agave-focused bar would pair well with the food.”

Cline said the Spanish Fly, a combination of mezcal, Aperol, ginger, cucumber and lemon, has been an early favorite.

“It’s mezcal-based, but we also hit it with fresh ginger so it comes out pretty spicy,” he said. “It’s hard to make a mezcal drink approachable and I think this drink encompasses all of those things.”

Patrons looking for another craft cocktail, martini, glass of wine or local craft beer to pair with bites from Lira can stop in Tuesday through Sunday starting at 4 p.m. (2 p.m. on Sundays).

“All of us live on James Island,” said Cline. “After spending so many years working downtown, we wanted to take that focus and put it into our own neighborhood.”
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