George Street gourmet grocery and grab-and-go eatery Caviar & Bananas is looking ahead to the future after a year filled with change. Moving forward, the shop will look to streamline its operations to make for easier ordering and pick-ups and expand with more local and regional storefronts, Caviar & Bananas chief executive officer Joe Caradonna told the City Paper.
“It’s still kind of an outdated operation that we have here,” said Caradonna, who was hired by Caviar & Bananas founders Margaret and Kris Furniss in 2010. “We want to try to kind of bring it up to speed.”
The Furnisses sold the company to New York City-based venture capital firm Feenix Venture Partners in 2018. In January 2020, ownership closed Caviar & Bananas’ out-of-town outposts in Greenville and Nashville before shutting down its Charleston City Market stand during the pandemic. But, Caradonna says they are poised to expand.
“As of spring last year, I became the new owner-operator of C&B with their support to grow the company,” Caradonna said. “We’re positioning ourselves financially and operationally to do just that, hopefully within the next year. It goes without saying there have been a few hurdles in the past 12 months, but I think we’ve put it all behind us at this point.”
The company’s expansion plans have not yet been determined. But after reopening the Caviar & Bananas in the Charleston International Airport after a temporary pandemic closure, Caradonna says he’s open to adding more airport shops in the Southeast.
“If we could continue to grow just through airports, that’s great,” he said. “It’s kind of like a huge billboard before they get into the city.”
But for now, the focus is on 51 George St., where he hopes to start renovations soon. Caradonna wants to revamp the front of the store, add more seating and move all the food service providers to the back of the store.
“It would ideally give the store a less confusing feel if you’ve never been in,” said Caradonna, adding that finding a contractor to complete the project has been a challenge during the pandemic. “Ideally, I’m looking to shut the store down for, call it a week, but we want to dump quite a bit of money to polish the place up.”