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  • Writer's pictureSteven Keith

Downtown Charleston's The Block closing its doors today?

If you want to grab a drink and dinner at The Block, you’d better hurry. The downtown Charleston wine bar on the corner of Capitol and Quarrier streets may be closing its doors Wednesday night – just 10 days before Christmas.

The Block in downtown Charleston is closing its doors Wednesday.
The Block in downtown Charleston is closing its doors Wednesday.

A couple of the restaurant’s employees confirmed that they received a sudden notice from owner Des Baklarov this Monday saying that Wednesday would be their last day on the job.

Speaking confidentially, one front-of-house worker said the announcement “came out of nowhere” and they were “100% blindsided” by the news. As recently as this past Friday, the employee said the restaurant had adjusted its hours and was making plans for upcoming specials.

Gorgonzola Shrimp & Grits from The Block
Gorgonzola Shrimp & Grits from The Block

“I have no idea what happened over the weekend, but something must have,” they said. Two others on the kitchen staff said they were stunned as well.

Reached on Tuesday, however, a spokesperson responding to a message sent via Facebook said the owner was in contact with someone who’d like to continue operating the venue with minimal or no interruption of service.

“The Block Restaurant has not officially announced closing,” they said.

Although The Block opened to rave reviews back in May of 2015, the quality of its food, service and management was wildly inconsistent through the years, leading to periods of boom and bust. Business had been very brisk of late, though, and it was still one of my favorite “cool” local lounges in which to enjoy a nice adult beverage.

Its downtown location – especially that nice corner patio – can’t be beat, so hopefully a new owner or restaurant will land there soon.

• • •

The owners of Secret Sandwich Society recently secured financing for the much anticipated rebuild of their restaurant in Fayetteville, which was destroyed by a fire back in November of 2020.

Grilled Chicken Skewer & Kale Salad from The Block
Grilled Chicken Skewer & Kale Salad from The Block

After considering a few different locations around Fayetteville to make their comeback, the beloved restaurant known for delicious sandwiches named after the Secret Service names of former presidents and first ladies will rise from the ashes in the same spot where the previous restaurant once stood.

Word is Secret Sandwich still hopes to open another location in downtown Charleston, which was in the works before the fire, but that project has been delayed while the original Fayetteville location gets back up and running.

If they’re still looking for a prime spot on Capitol Street, I know a place that just opened up.

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If you’re hankering for some authentic Irish food – something woefully lacking in Charleston – you can satisfy your cravings for fish and chips, bangers and mash, and shepherd’s pie at the new Connolly’s Irish Pub in Hurricane.

Located on Main Street with Irish flags flying outside, Connolly’s bills itself as the only true Irish pub in the area. I haven’t been able to visit yet to bless that claim, but it looks legit from what I’ve seen and heard so far.

• • •

In case you missed the story in last week’s paper, there’s a new open-air pit barbecue joint that has set up a permanent location on Charleston’s West Side.

Serving up ribs, fried seafood and salmon cake dinners along with hot dogs, sandwiches, bowls and sides like honey sriracha wings, cheddar mac ‘n’ cheese, tator tots, seasoned cabbage, fresh-cut fries and more, Phat Daddy’s on Da Tracks is located at 480 Railroad Ave. behind Denver Depot and the shuttered Rite Aid on West Washington Street.

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A central West Virginia B&B has not one, but two, dishes featured in a new set of 24 artsy recipe postcards that have been released as an “edible advent calendar” of sorts to count down the days until Christmas.

Encouraging people to count blessings, not calories, as they gather to celebrate the season, the free gift set features printable, mailable and shareable cards featuring 19 different inns and B&Bs across the country as a way to bring people together during an uncertain time.

“Now it’s possible to actually cook together in different kitchens, in different states, even in different countries, thanks to video calls,” said Dena Finneran, innkeeper of the Caldwell House Bed & Breakfast in Salisbury Mills, NY, who contributed a Pomegranate Sangria for the cause. “Our hope is the recipe postcards will provide many opportunities for friends and families to virtually connect.”

West Virginia’s own Gillum House Bed & Breakfast in Shinnston was selected to feature both the inn’s Herb Bread (flavored with nutmeg, sage and parsley) and the dressing they make with it (adding celery, onion, more herbs, butter and broth).

Other recipes featured in the set include Baked Apple Cider Donuts with Maple Glaze, Baked Crème Brûlée French Toast with Cranberry Sauce, Gingerbread Waffles with Cinnamon Cream Syrup, Eggnog-Spiked Bread Pudding, Cranberry Orange Scones, Breakfast Pot Pies with Puff Pastry, Pecan Pumpkin Bread and more.

To download a free copy of the book of edible postcards visit between now and Jan. 1, 2022.

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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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