Fast & French went 36 years without outdoor dining, but the pandemic prompted owners to add sidewalk seating and secure a temporary permit to serve guests in the courtyard behind the Broad Street cafe.
“We were quick to get the sidewalk seating from the city, but we went through a real struggle with the backyard because that’s county property,” said Fast & French partner David Lawrence Mitchell. “We are very grateful to the county for granting us the use of the courtyard.”
Fast & French welcomed guests to its new courtyard for the first time last week. The tenured restaurant joins other Charleston establishments that have gotten creative with outdoor seating following City Council’s vote in May to pass an emergency ordinance expanding the areas where restaurants can serve guests.
Last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio made the Open Restaurants initiative permanent, allowing restaurants to use sidewalks and street space like parking spots to serve diners outdoors. The ordinance to use this space is temporary in Charleston and most other cities for the time being, but de Blasio’s decision could lead other cities to follow suit.
Mitchell thinks the move could be helpful for Charleston’s restaurant industry, but right now he’s just taking it day by day.
“Our entire business model was about communal tables, meeting new people and being part of something,” Mitchell said. “When you take that away, I was really worried about the business. But having a courtyard presence outside, I’m hyper aware of what it’s like to be on Broad Street and feel more a part of the community.”
Fast & French is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m.-8 p.m for indoor and outdoor dining. For more information, visit fastandfrenchcharleston.com.