It’s becoming harder and harder to allow historic structures to sit empty in this town anymore. It wasn’t all that long ago that a lot of buildings downtown Savannah sat. Empty, in some cases in varying degrees of disrepair. Sure, developers were snooping around kicking tires here and there, but not too many were willing to drop the kind of investment needed to really bring the history of downtown Savannah back to life. The Grey on MLK, Jr Blvd was among the first to truly refurbish an old space. Since then a number of others have followed suit. The latest set to open sits at the corner of Price and Broughton Streets downtown Savannah, it’s the latest from the Gaslight Group. East End Provisions.
If you’ve been around long enough, you remember it as Juarez Mexican Restaurant. If you’ve been around longer than that, you remember a way ahead of its time high-end European restaurant. Juarez, though, drew the biggest gasp when it closed for good after 21 years on the far East end of Broughton. That story made headlines. Then the property sat empty for a good while. In desperate need of repairs and a makeover, frankly.
“We came in an looked at it.” says Brian Huskey, Owner of the Gaslight Group which also owns B Matthews Eatery, Blowin Smoke Cantina and others in Savannah. “We thought there was some potential.”
Once the decision was made to move forward with the building, Brian, his staff and Linn Gresham, a local designer, went to work. “They spent a couple of days at the Georgia Historical Society trying to find out whatever they could about the building.” Brian says “Then Linn went to work. She is so good at what she does, it all kind of fell together.”
They found some photos. They found a little bit of information. What they determined was that building had been an old grocery. A provisions store. They sold biscuits, drinks and other simple items. A concept was born.
Brian tells me about $800,000 has gone into revamping the space. Most of it cosmetic. The bones were largely in tact in the building. The front room is now dominated by a bar with built-in stools. There are a few tables, however. The back wall adorned by a massive mural of what that property looked like Circa 1900. Plenty of seating in the back as well, including a room for private functions. “We should be able to seat about 130” Brian says.
Downstairs there’s a spot to hang your hat, have a few drinks or watch a ball game. “Lot 33” will have a different menu, different hours, darts or perhaps a shuffleboard table, and some seating for a full afternoon or evening of fun. That concept remains something of a work in progress, but it promises to be a good-looking hang out.
The menu features a wood fire burning grill. “We don’t know of any others downtown.” Brian says “And we hope to take full advantage of that on our menu.”
As of this writing, the menu is also a bit of a work in progress. It will feature seafood, flatbreads, sandwiches and I spotted a seafood mac and cheese dish on a menu I got a quick look at. Brian says the goal at East End, as it is with all of his restaurants is to make their menus feel approachable. “We don’t see the need to compete with celebrity chefs or with large chains.” Brian says “We want to offer the kinds of price points that will bring out the neighborhood.”
That is important to note. Dining options on the East end of downtown aren’t as plentiful as they are, say, 4 blocks to the West. Meanwhile, the neighborhood between Price and Broad Street to the East continues to grow. That’s the target audience for East End Provisions. There will be no dishes you can’t pronounce at East End Provisions.
Brian may disagree, but it would be safe to say his Gaslight Group has figured out how to appeal to the masses. The crowd at brunch at B Matthews or Lunch at The 5 Spot in Habersham Village will tell you that. Now you’ve got something new to try on the East End of downtown.
East End Provisions expect to be open around November 10th, give or take a couple of days. We’ll keep you posted.
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