Last month we learned that after eight years millenial favorite Social Wine Bar & Restaurant was closing. Brad Ball, Social’s managing partner, blamed the closure on the loss of nightlife and younger crowd on East Bay Street. “East Bay now has an older demographic that’s more touristy,” he told CP. To keep up with the shift, in less than three months time Ball says Social (188 East Bay St.) will be transformed into what he’s calling “Southern cuisine with a barbecue backbone” — Poogan’s Smokehouse.
Ball, whose family owns the 39-year-old institution Poogan’s Porch, is capitalizing on Poogan’s name recognition with a barbecue and Southern cuisine spot in Social’s old space. The pizza oven is out, a smoker is moving in.
“We had a wonderful run with a wine-focused concept in that area, but the dynamic has changed and we have decided to pivot accordingly,” says Ball.
We’re told Ball and team decided on the concept following the success of Poogan’s annual Pig Roast & Bourbon Sip fundraiser for Lowcountry Food Bank. For the past three years Poogan’s Sous Chef Jeffrey Myers has been the pitmaster at the event. Now Myers will bring his skills to Poogan’s Smokehouse while Poogan’s Executive Chef Daniel Doyle will oversee the menu. The restaurant will serve both mustard and vinegar sauces in addition to some of Poogan’s Porch’s classics. Ball is keeping mum on the full menu right now, but shrimp and grits are a sure bet. The restaurant is estimating $14-$20 on entrees and $12-$24 for barbecue ribs.
The dark, gallery-like interior of Social, once home to monthly art shows, will also be transformed to fit the theme. So far exposed brick, a white-washed ceiling, and a mix of rustic elements are in the works. The bar area will also change and now feature a large communal table.
With the opening of Poogan’s Smokehouse, downtown Charleston will soon be home to eight barbecue restaurants, three — Queology, Sticky Fingers, and Cumberland St. Smokehouse — within blocks from Ball’s new spot. Not to mention the plethora of pork places off the peninsula. But Ball doesn’t seem fazed by the competition.
“We are very pleased with the direction that the menu is going. It will be a wholly unique concept to the Charleston restaurant scene,” he says.