Another season, another business venture: That's the way Shep Rose of Southern Charm rolls. True to form, in the Season 2 opener, Shep has a new restaurant called the Palace Hotel, and it's not located anywhere near Buckingham or Kensington, I can tell you that much. It's in Charleston, South Carolina of course. Shep may have been raised in the nearby city of Hilton Head, but as soon as Southern Charm hit the air in 2014, his new blood Charleston status became unavoidable, although his adult status was still a little ambiguous at the close of Season 1. Something about Rose's resemblance to a lovable golden retriever and proud boasting about rarely working earns him that playboy reputation. But now that he's getting down to business in Season 2, where might you be able to find Shep's latest venture?
Around the time the first season of Southern Charm was filming and getting ready to bring a different geographical region of sass to the Bravo network, Shep was working on becoming a restaurant owner in the form of investing in Hanover Street's hippest new dive that was kept mostly secret until its opening in Spring of 2014. The Palace Hotel serves up cheap drinks alongside innovative food dishes — perhaps its "haute dogs" are where it gets its royal moniker — and that's not its only obvious dichotomy: in a city full of hip, new spots opening every week, Rose's restaurant puts a twist on location, menu, and the typical reality TV restaurant investor...
Eater Charleston calls the Palace Hotel an "Eastside anomaly." That's because there a lot of restaurants in downtown Charleston, but just about none of them are in the Eastside neighborhood. It's an interesting place to open a bar that boasts innovative menu, but a little idiosyncrasy rarely hurts a joint looking for some new attention.
And the Palace Hotel has gotten it. The food critic at The Post and Courier noted her wariness to head to a neighborhood that "has an entrepreneurial streak: Of the 22 arrests recorded on the street in May, nearly one-quarter of them were associated with drug dealing." But it seems that the contrast between unassuming exterior and surprisingly tasty interior is key to the bar's appeal. Beware, though; the Charleston City Paper critic missed the bar altogether and had to return to his search after hearing that he shouldn't be looking for a restaurant but "an old storefront with a neon PBR sign in the window and 'Cigarettes & Beer' scripted above the barred doorway."
Frankly, the food sounds great, and I'll be requesting a visit the next time I'm in the Palmetto City. But it should be mentioned that many of the Palace Hotel's positive reviews upon its opening centered around Executive Chef Blake Joyal, who has since parted ways with the kitchen. Still though, the menu offers dishes that beg to be sampled alongside a $2 can of PBR. Joyal brought his New York City training — he was executive chef of Country and sous chef at Craft — to the Palace Hotel's small plates menu: Favorites seem to be the moist rice patties in a mix of soy sauce and oyster sauce and the Chicago Style hot dog.
The owners have lucked out on a risky venture, it seems. Owner/operator Taylor Grant told Charleston City Paper he was glad the Palace Hotel opening didn't make it onto Southern Charm because the restaurant was about much more than just becoming the Shep show. (And I have to imagine no restaurant in Charleston is aiming for the "Bravo crowd.") Grant and Rose met in high school and when they reconnected in 2013, Rose decided to invest in Grant's big Eastside gamble. They brought in consulting chef Eva Keilty to help get the menu and kitchen started. Now it's just word or mouth, good atmosphere, and hot dogs that stand between Shep Rose and becoming a bonafide grownup.
Image: Jeff Gentner/Bravo; Palace Hotel/Facebook