The Rustic Muffin A Unique Coffee & Bagel Shop

Summerville Eatery Bringing Northeastern Staple Food To Cane Bay / Nexton Area

Jeff Walker, Business Review

I've been screaming this for as long as I can remember, or at least until I am blue in the face, 'Charleston is a food and beverage community'. When it comes to BBQ, shrimp & grits, pecan pie and other southern delicacies the low country has much to offer. On the flipside of the coin, the low country doesn't quite measure up when it comes to regional foods, especially those originating in north east part of the country.

The latter part of the food equation began to turn the tide over the past 30 years as northerners brought their dining heritage to greater Charleston. That's when everyday foods like pizza and cheesesteaks (Philly's in Oakbrook) began to emerge. Although they are great additions to the overall Charleston food community, one of the last great food groups popular to many from New York, Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut is the morning staple, 'the bagel'.

Sure bagels are not new to Charleston, but authentic New York deli style bagels are almost unheard of in the low country. All that changed in September 2018 when husband and wife team Grant and Jennifer Dalling threw open the doors to 'The Rustic Muffin' in the Cane Bay and Nexton communities of Summerville. A retired police officer from Fairfield, Conn. Grant had always envisioned opening a coffee shop, much like the ones he and his wife frequented growing up in Connecticut.

After relocating to Cane Bay Grant went to work for a couple of low country area businesses just to fight the boredom, but deep down he longed to open his own business. Seeing a newer and smaller business park spring up less than a mile down from the entrance to Cane Bay on State Road (Hwy 176), he had his wife a part time real estate agent (Coldwell Banker) check into leasing a parcel.

Before long the couple along with help from SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives), were busy laying out the groundwork for Grant's dream, although Jennifer quickly vetoed his first business name aka Muffin Hut. She agreed on muffin, but didn't think hut fit with all they had in mind. It wasn't long before she came up with rustic and the Dalling's vision was set in motion.

After eight months of build out, working on layout of the 1500 square feet eatery, Grant partnering with the right vendors the Rustic Muffin welcomed breakfast and lunch diners in September of 2018. Although they do sell muffins, sweet treats, cake pops, hand held bites, Rustic Muffin is as the Dalling's describe 'a community coffee shop that sells hellacious (awesome) bagels'. The kind of bagels a native New Yorker would be proud to enjoy.

With more and more northerners moving to the low country, with many finding residence in Cane Bay & Del Webb, The Rustic Muffin is a welcome reminder of the comfort foods they left behind. While dining on a $50 steak and French cuisine is nice once in a while, it's the everyday more affordable foods that attract diners of all backgrounds. You'll find that at the Rustic Muffin.

So we're all on the same page, bagels are much more than donut shaped bread, to many bagels are a morning tradition, with New York style bagels considered among the best of the best. There is something about the consistency of a New York style bagel. It all has to do with the overall preparation, the salt to malt ratio, and the way they are baked to provide a plump crispy crust, and chewy interior.

While The Rustic Muffin bagels are not made from scratch, they do get them from an old school bakery out of the Bronx! They come partially pre-baked, then frozen, and shipped weekly to the Dalling's location. Beginning his day at 4am Grant places a variety of flavors in the oven, allowing patrons several option before opening the doors at 6am.

You'll find everyday staples such as onion, sesame, pumpernickel, and plain, alongside specialty bagels like asiago, blueberry, multi-grain, jalapeno, and my new favorite the pizza bagel. The Dalling's and their cheerful staff will craft any bagel into a morning sandwich complete with your choice of eggs, cheeses, and breakfast meats. Not a bagel lover (God forbid), have your breakfast sandwich on a fresh made muffin or a flaky croissant.

Open 6am until 2pm Monday thru Friday, and 8am - noon on weekends, the Rustic Muffin is an ideal breakfast, brunch, and lunch destination. There are seven specialty 'bagel-wiches' several reflecting New York boroughs, including The Rustic Rueben (classic), the Manhattan, the Brooklyn, Da' Bronx, and the SOHO, an artsy everything bagel teeming with turkey, applewood bacon, swiss, under avocado, tomato, and lettuce, slathered with srirachi mayo (chili sauce, lemon juice, garlic, etc) for a zestful kick.

Those few hours Grant is in The Rustic Muffin before welcoming guests, he's busy tidying up the shop, creating cream cheese spreads for bagels, and yes baking muffins and cookies. And as awesome as the bagels are, Grants homemade cookies especially the Sea Salt Caramel is worth travelling across town to munch on. The cookies as well as chocolate or blueberry muffins will satisfy your hunger and sweet tooth.

Now let's talk coffee. The Rustic Muffin at it's core is a coffee shop that serves up incredible edibles, but coffee and other caffeinated elixirs are the go-go juice to get you moving at daybreak. Hot, cold, and iced coffees and teas. Espressos, lattes, and frappes catering to discerning tastes. The Dalling's labored long and hard over their essential coffee partnership.

While many in greater Charleston use local roasters, The Rustic Muffin opted to maintain their north east feel and go with Downeast Coffee Roasters out of Rhode Island. Look them up online, Downeast is a third generation coffee brewer who've been delighting coffee lovers for nearly 70 years. Simply put, they are a family run business that knows how to roast coffee beans. Enough said!

Quick recap. Great bagels, great sandwiches, Italian pastries, incredible sweet treats, awesome coffee, all served up with a pleasant smile. Great way to start your morning commute or enjoy food and drink the way it's meant to be. The Rustic Muffin is not New York pretentious, it's more low country and Summerville laid back. Jennifer and I agree it's 'New York taste meets southern ambiance'.

Many regulars travel 30 or 45 minutes to grab up a dozen bagels, $18 -$21 depending on the variety. Regulars know they can buy bagels, take them home and either refrigerate (next day) or freeze them until they want to dine on them. Ask Grant or Jennifer, they will be more than happy to get anyone up to speed on how to best store bagels for later consumption.

I took two pizza bagels home and enjoyed the very next day. One for breakfast and another as a sandwich with sliced pepperoni and provolone. Both times it tantalized my palate.

Don't bring your gold card, because The Rustic Muffin is aptly priced. Most coffees range $3-$5. Most bagel-wiches and five signature salads under $8. Good food at a good price is always very appetizing.

Maybe you're not going to make the trip from Folly Beach or downtown Charleston for a morning sandwich and a cup of joe. However if you plan to be in Summerville for business or pleasure I would highly recommend putting The Rustic Muffin on your itinerary. They are just seven minutes off I-26 exit 197. Take Nexton Parkway until it meets 176, hang a left and it's the first strip center on the left. You can dine in or on the go with their drive thru. Enjoy!

For more on The Rustic Muffin follow them on Facebook or visit their website at https://www.therusticmuffin.com/

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