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  • Writer's pictureSteven Keith

Another Sergio restaurant coming to old Books & Brews?

The “for lease” signs have been taken down at the former Books & Brews restaurant at 222 West Washington St. in Charleston, with building owner Tighe Bullock teasing on Facebook that there will be a big announcement to come.

The vacant location of the old Books & Brews on Charleston's West Side
The vacant location of the old Books & Brews on Charleston's West Side

Word on the street is that the owner of Sergio’s Cucina Italiana & Steaks in Hurricane and Guadalajara Modern Mexican is the one who will be moving into the space – a rumor that seems pretty likely since said owner (Sergio LugoMata) shared Bullock’s post with two “winking” emojis.

There’s no official word on whether the new restaurant will be a second location for Guadalajara or Sergio’s – or something entirely different – but a few sources have told me it’s supposed to be another Sergio’s Italian & Steak, which opened in Hurricane to mostly positive reviews late last year.

Stay tuned here for more details about one of Elk City’s newest restaurants!

Green Chili Shootout re-brings the heat

The Green Chili Shootout at Capitol Market returned with a bang this past Saturday.

Or maybe I should say it came back with a slam, since Saturday’s cookoff ended with a two-hour “Market Mayhem” wrestling event put on by Regatta Pro Wrestling.

Green Chili Shootout at Capitol Market
Green Chili Shootout at Capitol Market

Before things heated up in the ring outside at Center Court, more than 40 professional, amateur and corporate teams sliced, diced, simmered and served nearly 100 gallons of chili as guests sipped beer and wine while grooving to the tunes of DJ EJ under sunny skies.

Oh, what a day!

I served as one of the judges who helped pick the event’s ultimate winner – Lynn Berkebile from Vermilion, Ohio – who will now go on to represent Capitol Market at the International Chili Society’s World Chili Cookoff later this year.

Good luck, Lynn!

Second- and third-place pro winners were Jessica Ahlgrim and David Mallory, respectively, while Phill Williams of Johnnie’s Fresh Meat Market won the team category. Muffin’s Meat Shack won the People’s Choice Award and Mountaineer Food Bank was named Best Booth.


Sarah’s Bakery offering Easter pre-orders

Just in time for brunches and baskets, Sarah’s Bakery in South Hills has released a special menu of treats you can pre-order for this year’s Easter festivities.

Green beer and green chili at Capitol Market
Green beer and green chili at Capitol Market

In addition to breakfast offerings like cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing, salted caramel pecan sticky buns and a variety of quiches, they’re offering a “brunch box” filled with a whole quiche, six assorted pastries and a fruit salad that serves 4-6 people.

You can also reserve whole pies (lemon meringue, apple crumb, blueberry buttermilk, graham cracker, pecan, coconut and peanut butter) and Easter-decorated cakes (lemon raspberry, vanilla, carrot, coconut cream and chocolate truffle).

Pickup times for pre-orders are 4-6 p.m. on Friday, March 29, and 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, March 30. To place your order, stop in the bakery in the South Hills Shops, call 304-343-2253 or email

Has restaurant tipping gotten out of control?

Nearly 75% of Americans believe tipping has gotten completely out of control, according to new research just released by WalletHub.

Mountaineer Food Bank won Best Booth
Mountaineer Food Bank won Best Booth

The survey asked consumers about a variety of topics, such as when people believe they should have to tip, whether they feel pressured to do so and how they think gratuities should be split among restaurant staff.

Here are some of the other highlights revealed …

Nearly 65% of customers believe a tip is something you should give when you feel like it, instead of something you always have to give. (On a similar note, 50% say they often leave a tip because they feel pressured to do so, not because they felt they had good service.)

More than 25% of Americans admit they tip less when they are prompted to give a suggested amount, while 22% claim to tip more in those instances.

Lynn Berkebile and Market Director Evan Osborn
Lynn Berkebile and Market Director Evan Osborn

“More and more types of establishments are starting to ask for tips, and suggested tip amounts are growing higher, so it’s understandable that people are frustrated,” said WalletHub analyst Cassandra Happe, adding that resentment gets especially high when these pressures are paired with ongoing inflation.

According to the survey, nearly 60% feel that businesses are replacing employee salaries with customer tips.

And, no surprise here, nearly 80% of those polled believe that automatic service charges should be banned.

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Steven Keith is a food writer and restaurant critic known as “The Food Guy” who writes a weekly column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and has appeared in several state, regional and national culinary publications. Follow him online at or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or at

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