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  • Writer's pictureSteven Keith

Local chef opening a new restaurant in old Gonzoburger space

A local chef with experience at several top-notch restaurants is opening her own place inside the space formerly occupied by Gonzoburger on Charleston’s West Side. (Or Elk City, as the cool kids call it today.)

Elk City Bistro opening in old Gonzoburger location
Elk City Bistro opening in old Gonzoburger location

Donesha Barrett – who has worked in kitchens at Le Bistro in Huntington, Bridge Café & Bistro in Hurricane and The Block in Charleston – says she hopes her new Elk City Bistro will be ready to welcome guests at 207 West Washington St. as early as next month.

After taking a break to devote time to being a mother, Barrett started doing a few catering jobs, saw how much she could grow that business and decided it was “time to stand out on my own.”

This dream to open her own brick-and-mortar restaurant was a long time coming.

Elk City Bistro plans to open in early November
Elk City Bistro plans to open in early November

“I started cooking at a very young age and learned a lot from my family,” she told me. “As the years went on, I finally knew that it was my purpose. I graduated from culinary school and landed my first job in 2015. Ever since, I have worked in and excelled at every position in the kitchen.”

One of those success stories was starting in the kitchen at a former downtown Charleston restaurant, The Block, and eventually working her way up to its Executive Chef.

“I always envisioned opening my own restaurant, but never thought it could happen,” she added. “But with the push of my partner, it’s been a dream come true!”

Barrett has an ambitious goal to open the new restaurant by early November, but says that depends on her own high expectations that everything will be just right by that time. And what can folks expect when they come in for a bite to eat?

“We’ll offer contemporary, causal food that represents Elk City through a creative menu using local ingredients.”

I’m not sure exactly what that means yet, in terms of specific dishes, but I can’t wait to find out.

Coming off the heels of nearby Books and Brews shutting down earlier this year, followed by Gonzoburger’s sudden closing in July, the new restaurant is welcome news to those who reside, work or play on the West Side.

“We are thrilled she is going to be in our beloved building in Elk City,” said Andy Tanner, who owns the Gonzoburger property with DeWayne Duncan. “She is young, energetic and talented. She has a proven track record and has a great vision for the space. We’ve sampled her food and it’s delicious, healthy and unique.”

Stay tuned to The Food Guy for an opening day and sneak peek at the new restaurant’s menu!

Capital Cocktail Classic winners announced

Since I was wining and dining across the rooftops of Chicago last weekend, I missed this year’s Capital Cocktail Classic to benefit Fund for the Arts. Total bummer.

DT Prime's appetizer won the Capital Cocktail Classic
DT Prime's appetizer won the Capital Cocktail Classic

But I heard it was another fun affair that saw these two restaurants bringing home the wins.

Based on votes cast by all participants, DT Prime won “Best Appetizer” for their Hernshaw Farms portabella mushroom wellington with fig glaze, paired with a New York Strip shaved beef roll stuffed with cream cheese and jalapenos from Gritt’s Farm, then drizzled with a blackberry balsamic reduction.

And Ichiban/Bar 101 won “Best Cocktail” for their Appalachian Sour cocktail featuring Old Forrester bourbon, house-made fuji apple-ginger puree, a splash of sour mix and lemon juice with a cinnamon apple garnish.

Coincidentally or not, both restaurants are owned by Todd Moore and Dave Andrews. Congrats, gents!

Café Appalachia’s downtown location almost ready

Café Appalachia’s second location – coming to the downtown Charleston space that once housed the original Noah’s Eclectic Bistro at 110 McFarland St. – is just a few weeks away from its grand opening.

Bar 101/Ichiban's drink won the Capital Cocktail Classic
Bar 101/Ichiban's drink won the Capital Cocktail Classic

The original café, tucked inside a church in South Charleston, not only serves delicious breakfast and lunch, but also supports women recovering from addiction by offering them a stable job and purpose.

It’s such a great program and you can learn more about it at It’s also one of my absolute favorite casual dining spots in the Kanawha Valley, so I can’t wait to have a second location to frequent.

After a “by invitation only” soft opening that will run from Oct. 23 through Nov. 3, the new restaurant will host its official grand opening on Nov. 8. Stay tuned for more details as that date rolls around!

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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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1 Comment

Oct 18, 2023

I look forward to visiting a new restaurant and wish Donesha Barrett all the best in her new venture. I wish she had chosen a different name name, though. Bistro is being used by several businesses from Charleston to Hurricane to Huntington. Although the locations are widespread and each restaurant has different owners and different vibes, the general public continually confuses them with each other. I hear this in conversation and see it daily in restaurant review sites online.

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