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  • Writer's pictureSteven Keith

Soho’s beer garden gets a makeover at Capitol Market

When guests show up to dine outside at Soho’s this week, they’ll be surprised to see more on the menu than tasty Italian pizzas, salads, sandwiches, pasta and entrees.

New lounge area at Soho's outdoor beer garden at Capitol Market
New lounge area at Soho's outdoor beer garden at Capitol Market

They’ll also be greeted by a makeover of the Capitol Market restaurant’s outdoor beer garden, which has been transformed into a nicer dining space complete with a new lounge area with sofas and chairs, two new fireplace tables, four suspended TVs, new dining tables and eight tower heaters on the way.

And it’s all situated under a canopy of strung lights surrounded by the market’s colorful outdoor sights and sounds, fruits and produce, greenery and scenery.

“The beer garden has been a big hit with our customers,” Soho’s co-owner Tracy Abdalla said, “but we think they’re going to love this new space even more.”

Although the beer garden was added during COVID as a temporary measure to provide the restaurant more outdoor seating, the addition became so popular that Soho’s approached Capitol Market about occupying the space on a more permanent basis for now.

Two new tables feature fireplace centers
Two new tables feature fireplace centers

Once those plans were in place, Abdalla said they wanted that space to look nicer and more permanent as well.

“We’ve invested a lot to make sure Soho’s remains one of the area’s favorite places to eat and our customers have supported us through it all, especially during the past year and a half when a lot of places have struggled,” said Abdalla, who owns the popular restaurant at Capitol Market along with local commercial real estate manager Martin Riggs and attorney Roger Nicholson.

Abdalla is especially excited that the transformation took place this week, with Capitol Market’s largest fund-raiser of the year, Market Mixer, happening there Wednesday night from 6-8 p.m.

“The timing is perfect, because so many of Capitol Market’s and Soho’s biggest supporters will be here to see the new space,” he added. “We can’t wait to show and see what people think.”

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Speaking of Capitol Market's Market Mixer, although it’s typically one of THE parties of the year in Charleston — drawing nearly 500 guests for food, drinks, live music and giveaways in the market’s indoor and outdoor space — this year’s celebration will be a slightly more intimate affair, capped at a couple hundred attendees and mostly outside, due to COVID safety precautions.

But it will still be a good time, with all the same amenities as usual, so I hope to see many of you there!

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Remember earlier this year when I teased the pending arrival of several new local restaurants, including a new Cozumel Express cantina on downtown Charleston’s Capitol Street?

I know a lot of time has passed, but never fear. The new spot is set to open next month, and an employee there tells me the place is gorgeous.

It’s been many, many moons since Rio Grande once thrived in the space now occupied by Rock City Cake Company downtown. It’ll be nice having some tasty Mexican food and frosty margaritas on Capitol Street once again.

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On a sad note, however, Fusion Teriyaki Grille suddenly closed its doors Monday after a few years in business in Kanawha City.

“We want to thank everyone for their support,” the restaurant said in a Facebook post over the weekend. “These past few years or so have been extremely hard for little restaurants such as ours, and we are grateful for each of our customers who stuck it out with us.”

Although I hadn’t been in a while, I’ll miss that little place and its delicious Asian bowls.

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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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