Award-winning chef, television personality, and cookbook author, Vivian Howard, recently announced plans to open two distinct culinary concepts at 68 Wentworth Street in downtown Charleston this summer. Handy + Hot will be the first brick and mortar location for Howard’s online, small-batch bakeshop run out of her home kitchen in Kinston, NC; and Lenoir will be a "casual yet refined restaurant that aims to spotlight food traditions that perpetuate, honor and evolve the cuisine of the rural, agricultural South."
Handy + Hot will present a "modern take on the American-style coffee shop that places equal significance on both their coffee and food programs." The shop will open early in the morning with a menu of grab-and-go biscuits, hand pies, Southern pastries, fresh-pressed juices, and a full coffee and espresso menu. In the afternoon, the café will offer a variety of lunch options, from made-to-order sandwiches to seasonal salads and fresh sides, all available for dine-in or take away. Handy + Hot will also be available for catering and special events.
At Lenoir, named after Howard’s hometown of Lenoir County, NC, Howard says she will put "bright, creative and modern riffs on Southern food that exalt the fruits, vegetables, grains, meats and seafood of the region." Accoreding to a press release, Lenoir’s "streamlined menu will reflect the food of the frugal farmer, rather than traditional Lowcountry cooking. The restaurant’s convivial ambiance coupled with the quality and consistency of the experience hopes to attract guests looking for a more nuanced portrayal of Southern cooking. The menu is made up of small plates that set the stage for sharing, balanced by a selection of more substantial offerings."
Lenoir’s beverage program will "focus on approachable, timeless cocktails, a celebration of local craft beer culture and a succinct wine list with an emphasis on food-friendly, affordable, medium-bodied bottles."
Howard is currently working with local architect David Thompson to completely rehaul the historic space.
"I lived in Charleston for a bit in my early 20s and promised myself I'd live there again,” Howard said. “Clearly that wasn't in the cards, but opening a restaurant here gives my family a chance to spend more time in a city I love. We are so excited."
Howard has multiple awards under her belt, including four IACP awards for her first cookbook, Deep Run Roots; a Peabody Award for Excellence in Broadcasting, two Daytime Emmys, and two James Beard Foundation Awards for her PBS show, A Chef’s Life. She is also a four-time semifinalist for James Beard Best Chef Southeast for her Kinston, NC, restaurant, Chef and the Farmer
Opening summer 2020, Handy + Hot will be open for breakfast and lunch, and Lenoir will be open for dinner and weekend brunch.