Charleston is an ever-changing food town. Restaurants come and go, and chefs are oft taken by flights of fancy, branching off to explore new concepts. Over recent years, though, a few staples have settled throughout the city, and Edmund's Oast has been a constant presence on north Morrison Drive since 2014. The restaurant/brewery has achieved a stability that so many establishments strive for with the help of Bob Cook and Suzy Stone, who have recently both taken on larger roles within the organization in 2020.
Since joining Edmund's Oast in 2017, Cook has helped lead one of the more well-rounded kitchens in Charleston, blending the beer, wine, cocktail, and dining programs.
"I've always wanted this place to exude that fun, something-for-everyone feel," he says, noting that he's proud of the eatery's ability to cater to both happy-hour goers and those in search of fine dining flair.
"Our ability to attract and retain talent under Bob's leadership has been next level," says operating partner Scott Shor. So when it came time for Cook to become an official Edmund's Oast partner, it was a no-brainer. "Bob's dedication and leadership speaks to the type of people we have working here."
One of these team members is Suzy Stone, who has gradually climbed the ranks at Edmund's Oast, starting as a bartender in 2017 before eventually transitioning to front-of-house manager. Stone will look to use her previous experience at The Tattooed Moose to excel in her new role as EO's general manager.
"Alongside the owners, I helped open the Tattooed Moose downtown in 2010," says Stone. "We built it from the ground up, and five years later we opened the one on Johns Island. As the general manager, I was able to learn all about Charleston while making the necessary food and beverage connections." This experience coupled with her degree in social work has taught her how to build a culture within a restaurant. After developing an understanding of the Edmund's Oast identity, Stone now bridges the gap between kitchen staff and front-of-house crew.
So why did management decide to shift Cook and Stone's titles and roles now? According to Shor, the restaurant takes a patient approach when it comes to structural changes. "We're not the type of organization that fills a role just to fill it," says Shor. "We're patient, prudent folks who are going to wait for the right people to come along." It turns out, the right people were there all along. The main programs that fall under the restaurant's umbrella, The Restaurant, The Brewery, The Exchange, and the private events arm, make the operation of Edmund's Oast more complicated than other spots around town. "We have so many different styles of service, and Bob and Suzy are always bringing new improvements that allow us to execute all of these programs at a high level," says Shor.
One of the bigger changes at Edmund's Oast has been over at The Exchange, a retail concept next to the restaurant that combines craft beer with world class wine from sommelier Sarah O'Kelley. Cook has furthered this part of the business by adding curated bites to go along with the beverages. "With Bob's leadership, we've taken what used to be a retail shop and turned it into an all-day café," says Shor. "We've developed a menu and whole system for serving food in what used to just be a retail store." Patrons can now stop in for sandwiches and small bites at all hours of the day while learning from the beverage experts inside the shop.
As for the future of Edmund's Oast, day-to-day operations will for the most part stay the same. Cook likes the dynamic he has in the kitchen and doesn't feel that his new role will warrant any big changes. As partner, the chef will continue to contribute to the creative thought process behind the many concepts at Edmund's Oast, while also assisting with talent acquisition. When it comes to future goals and plans, Cook, Shor, and Stone all stress the importance of consistency and continuity.
"I want us to stay right in the top 10 percent of restaurants in Charleston but still provide this huge umbrella of what we offer," says Cook. "We will continue to expand on this vision moving forward."