Update:The Hidden Countship design was deferred by BAR for further study to look into fireproof glass. Matthew McLaughlin, the store’s manager, says the store will return for the next BAR meeting in two weeks to see if design changes can pass muster with BAR members.


For years the home of dive bars, Burns Lane may soon offer palates something a bit more refined — a taste of Umbria. Donatella Cappelletti and Giulio della Porta, owners of The Hidden Countship (21 Burns Lane) boutique, are requesting BAR approval tonight to construct a one-story addition that will serve as an as-yet-unnamed cafe.

Hidden Countship store manager Matthew McLauhglin tells us that the owners, who sell a variety of Italian imports from linens to ceramics, Roman jewelry reproductions to alabaster bowls, want to add another dimension to their tucked-away storefront.

“It will be for people looking for an Italian offering, like aperitivo, wine, cheeseboards, and Umbrian-inspired food,” says McLaughlin. “In Charleston, Italian food is very sauce-laden, but this would be more light.” Cappelletti and della Porta plan to work with long-time friend, Spoleto’s own chef Giovanna Tarli Tomassoni to build the menu.

The small addition to the pre-1820s building (rumored to have once been a brothel) would run the length of the right-hand side of building. So far the design drafted by Thomas and Denzinger Architects has already faced two rounds of BAR analysis. McLaughlin says the original plan was for the space to be a garden area, but now it has been redesigned as an enclosed area with 10 two-tops. “It’s a small scale, intimate setting,” he explains. “We wanted a conservatory design, but due to ordinances, we couldn’t do that. Instead, we’re proposing a walled garden idea. There will be fountains at either end, and it will have a cool refreshing feel.” While Hidden Countship lost it’s courtyard concept, the enclosed space will still be part glass, and the plan is to cover the exterior in espalier vines. As for the million dollar question, What about parking?, McLaughlin says that the store already has half a dozen spots in the small alley, but is hoping to cater to people strolling along King Street and staying at area hotels.