Tucked in an alleyway, across the parking lot from the Family Dollar on Meeting Street, is a small cafe serving cheap eats and healthy smoothies. It’s been open for over a year now, but finding an Oasis is never easy.
The small space finds home in the back of F45 Training, owned by Scott Mowers, who, along with his cousin and fellow F45 trainer Joseph Wade, opened the cafe in 2020 after having an extra 500 square feet of space in the downtown location.
“We saw there was a need,” Mowers said about deciding on the cafe. “We have all these gym clients, these healthy people, and we need to feed them.”
And fortunately for Mowers and Wade, executive chefs Ramon Taimanglo of Park & Grove and Mark Bolchoz of Indaco, both clients of the F45 trainers, were eager to help in the opening of the cafe.
“Luckily we had Ramon and Mark and kind of became friends with them,” Mowers continued. “They approached us as well and said, ‘Oh, what are you planning on doing with that extra space back there?’ And after some talking and finding the need, we came up with Oasis.”
The core of Oasis, according to Wade, is to be healthy-minded, offering a variety of bowls, wraps, toasts and sandwiches with vegan and vegetarian options, like the pesto chicken wrap or tomato and cucumber bowl.
“With the menu, we wanted to find super simple, healthy ingredients that we could source to keep the items at a reasonable price,” Wade said. “And sometimes healthy doesn’t taste good, so we did our best to make sure things actually tasted good.”
The talents of Taimanglo and Bolchoz also played a role, as they designed the cafe’s breakfast and lunch menu.
“We’re happy with our product and our menu,” said Oasis manager Thomas Bessent. “We’re about to roll out some sandwiches and really focus on the food menu going into the colder months.”
“It’s just good, healthy clean food for a decent price downtown,” Wade added. “Which is hard to find.”
In addition to food, Oasis offers coffee and smoothies, like the Sunday Morning Call, a peach, mango and raspberry smoothie, or The Masterplan, made with cold brew, cocoa powder, whey protein and oat milk. There are also specialty monthly smoothies.
And just recently, Oasis obtained its beer and wine license, but “still trying to navigate that to try and find the best possible way to be a wine, beer and cocktail place as well,” according to Wade.
“Scott has always said, ‘I always wanted to own a bar,’” Wade continued. “And I guess we technically own one now.”
With its location tucked away and opening its doors at the end of 2020, Oasis’ journey hasn’t been easy, according to Mowers.
Because of the location, it’s hard to spot the cafe, other than a sign on the sidewalk pointing you in the direction of the entrance. Nevertheless, the exterior has a painted mural that draws the eye into the alleyway, which doubles as the cafe’s outdoor seating area.
Another issue comes down to Apple and Google Maps, which directs potential customers – including myself – to turn into the UPS parking lot, despite Oasis and F45 having its own dedicated parking area.
“It happens to more people than we want,” Bessent said. “And we’ve tried to fix it with Google Maps, but there’s just been difficulty there.”
But that doesn’t mean Oasis is completely unknown.
Fortunately, with F45 just a door away, trainees at the studio regularly show, some even on a daily basis, according to Bessent. College students, especially those attending College of Charleston, know about the small little cafe, too.
Oasis is part of College of Charleston’s off-campus meal plan, Wade said.
“We’re hoping to make more of a name for ourselves with the residential buildings and apartment complexes coming up,” Bessent said.
“We like what we’re providing, we just want to let the world know that we’re here.”
Oasis Charleston is located on 476 Meeting St. behind F45 Training and open Mon.-Fri.
7 a.m.-2 p.m., Sat. 8 a.m.-2 p.m. and Sun. 8 a.m.-1 p.m.