Photo by Emeline and Lindsay Shorter

Frannie and the Fox has managed to open in the midst of a pandemic, making small adjustments to a dining room that might make you forget you’re eating at a hotel steps from Market Street. 

Frannie and the Fox debuted on July 1 inside Emeline, an independent boutique hotel at 181 Church St. The restaurant is divided into three parts: a lounge with tables, a patio with a retractable roof and a courtyard with several four-top tables. 

“Without COVID, this is a beautiful restaurant and we’re very lucky to operate in this space,” said executive chef Tim Morton. “With COVID, there isn’t a better space to feel safe but also chic and comfortable.” 

The layout, set prior to the pandemic, has allowed the restaurant to establish an ambiance while following statewide social distancing guidelines, Morton said. 

The chef drew on past experience to build Frannie and the Fox’s menu, which relies on the restaurant’s wood-fired oven and local ingredients from Storey Farms, Spade and Clover Gardens and Abundant Seafood, among others. 

Heirloom tomato toast with whipped ricotta | File photo

After spending a year and a half at Chicago’s three Michelin-started Alinea, where he “learned what’s possible in a day,” Morton joined Raleigh’s Umstead Hotel as executive sous chef. 

“It was an invaluable experience,” said Morton of working at the Umstead. “It had that independent philosophy within the hotel. Offering a high quality product that you would find in an independent restaurant is something that I very much learned and is a part of my mantra of what a good hotel F&B program should be.” 

Morton acknowledged celebrated local hotel restaurants like the Charleston Grill and Peninsula Grill as some of the best spots in the city, but he said working at Frannie and the Fox allows him to run with a more playful and reasonably priced offering that doesn’t skimp on quality. 

Look for wood-fired pizzas, refined appetizers and seasonal mains that compliment the setting, which is filled with local art. 

Take the “Foxhole”: a walkway inside the restaurant featuring works from 20 different local artists. The alley, which has four bar stools, sits between the kitchen and the bar where patrons can alert the bartender by pressing a button. 

The Foxhole | Photo by Emeline and Lindsay Shorter

“You push the button, and it’s the responsibility of the individuals sitting at the bar to alert the bartender that the light’s on,” said Emeline general manager Brad Harvey. 

Frannie and The Fox may have had some good fortune along the way, but making a hotel restaurant that would be comfortable for locals was intentional. 

“Anywhere that we could find high quality in Charleston to celebrate the local artists and makers, we always did that because we want this to be a Charleston experience,” Harvey said. “We have some guests that are here three to four times a week, and that’s really great to see.” 

Frannie and the Fox is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday. For more information or to make a reservation, visit hotelemeline.com/frannie-and-the-fox.