The Charleston Grill will open its doors for the first time since the start of the pandemic Thursday with Julie Hennigan leading front-of-house operations. Hennigan takes over for Mickey Bakst, who recently announced his retirement after 16 years at the restaurant.
Hennigan was promoted to GM after serving as the dining room manager for the last year and a half. Prior to joining The Charleston Grill, Hennigan was the general manager of The Macintosh.
“I’m excited. I worked with Mickey for a year and a half, and he would tell you that this was his vision, which makes me feel very honored,” Hennigan said. “We just want to continue the legacy that was started and bring in some fresh ideas. We want to honor Mickey and [former beverage director] Rick Rubel and just have a joyous, celebratory dining experience.”
Guests are welcomed back to the fine dining room after staff developed new protocols for safe dining.
“All of our tables are distanced, we have eliminated any shared touch points, we’re going to be offering the menus via QR code and we’re doing contactless temperature checks,” Hennigan said. “You have to simultaneously make people safe and welcome like we’ve thought of everything for them.”
For years, The Charleston Grill’s menu has been comprised of four sections: entrees, roots and stems, social and shared plates and the chef’s tasting experience. Executive chef Michelle Weaver’s updated menu will feature three of the four sections.
“Obviously we’re going to be scaling back the menu a little bit, and we’re going to take the shared part off the menu. ” Weaver said. “We’ll have some familiar things like the crab cake, steak and some beautiful local fish.”
She’s also adding more vegetarian dishes to the roots and stems section like chicken fried hen of the woods mushrooms and black truffle parsnips.
Andrew Marshall, who was promoted to head beverage director, will be in charge of The Grill’s 1,300-label wine list. Marshall became former beverage director Rubel’s assistant shortly after arriving at the restaurant in 2006.
“I’ve basically been living as the cellar rat for the last decade or so,” Marshall said. “That cellar has been my second home.”
Marshall will cater recommendations to his guests, just like his predecessors.
“There’s a diversity to the list, and I really try to approach what the guest loves first. My role is to make them as happy as can be,” he said.
The Charleston Grill will be open for dinner daily from 6-10 p.m., with the bar opening at 5 p.m. For more information, visit charlestongrill.com.