Halls Chophouse founder Bill Hall died unexpectedly Wednesday, according to a statement from Hall Management Group. Hall was 73 and is survived by his wife Jeanne. 

“It is with great sadness that I need to inform you of the passing of our founder, leader, encourager and friend, Mr. Bill Hall,” said Jim Wahlstrom, the director of human resources and operations for Hall Management Group, in a letter to employees Wednesday. “Mr. Hall died unexpectedly this morning. His family, friends, colleagues and I are devastated.”

Born in San Francisco, Hall started his hospitality career on the West Coast before coming to Charleston when his daughter was attending the College of Charleston. He opened Halls Chophouse in 2009, one of a few high-end restaurants on King Street at the time. In the 11 years since, he opened locations in Columbia, Greenville and Summerville. Hall’s company also owned Rita’s on Folly Beach and acquired Maverick Southern Kitchens, adding Slightly North of Broad and High Cotton to the Hall portfolio.
[content-2] “Bill was an extraordinary presence and benchmark for hospitality in this restaurant community,” said Mickey Bakst, general manager of the Charleston Grill, founder of Feed the Need and a close friend of Hall.

“There are very few people in the restaurant business I am in awe of and I am in awe of everything Bill gave to this community,” he said. “I can’t express enough what a profound loss this is.”

The company did not state a cause of death.

Hall was active in the Charleston community, serving on the boards of the Greater Charleston Restaurant Association, Trident Technical College, the College of Charleston and the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition. Last November, Gov. Henry McMaster named Hall the chair of the Patriots Point Development Authority, which oversees the museum on Charleston Harbor.

Restaurateur Michael Shemtov, who also has his hands in a wide range Charleston ventures including Butcher & Bee and Workshop, said the elder Hall’s business acumen was impressive.

“Bill Hall and the Hall family came to a city with a robust and developed restaurant market and community, yet they found a way to innovate and become not just a part of that community but a standard bearer for hospitality and for giving back,” he said.

“From the countless causes and non-profits he supported, to the F&B professionals he developed, Bill Hall Sr.’s impact and memory will be felt in Charleston for many years, if not forever,” Shemtov said.

In a statement, Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said, “The sense of true hospitality that’s become synonymous with the Halls’ name here in Charleston was never a business strategy or a show for the general public — it was just a fundamental part of who Bill Hall was.”

“Bill was a leader in our community, a peerless friend, and an old-fashioned gentleman in the best sense of the term, always ready to put service above self. Our hearts go out to his family and countless friends at this terrible time.”