Savannah’s Restaurant Scene Grows

At the end of every calendar year in television news, we are sent a series of “year in review” pieces from the networks.

The Year in Entertainment, The Year in Scandal, Year in Politics, even obits for the year.

It’s typically at that point that we recall: ”Oh yeah, Andy Griffith passed away this year.” Or “Jay-Z and Beyonce had their baby this year.”

It’s bittersweet because you remember the great and are touched by the nostalgic.

Truth is, you don’t need me to tell you that these types of things apply to everything in life — even the comings and goings of food in our lives and our favorite places to eat. These types of happenings make us stop and say “oh yeah …” and at the same time should remind us all that while this beautiful corner of the world doesn’t have the culinary scene that, say, a New Orleans, New York or Miami does, we do have a lot and, more importantly, it’s pretty clear to anyone paying attention: We are growing.

I will prove it, and I will start with dessert first.

Chocolat by Adam Turoni made the move to Broughton Street in 2012. The former chocolatier at Wright Square Cafe broke out on his own not even two years ago. He started in a modest space in Savannah’s Starland District. Now he’s in the heart of the downtown shopping area wowing locals and tourists alike. A tremendous accomplishment in such a short time. Adam is even providing all of his handmade wonderfulness to the Andaz hotel.

Our Eat It and Like It Tour launched in June 2012

Not two blocks away, the ladies of Lulu’s Chocolate Bar have expanded by leaps and bounds. They are renting out a huge kitchen in midtown Savannah to keep up with demand. Lulu’s has been providing desserts for the Westin across the river, and the requests continue to trek northward.

It made me smile one day when I saw a Lulu’s delivery truck drive by me on Abercorn. The ladies have big plans for 2013, and if all goes well, they could even see Lulu’s shipped directly to your door. Anywhere in America. The demand is certainly there.

Not to be outdone, three guys with various backgrounds opened up a “what exactly is that?” kind of place on Habersham and 33rd. They were already supplying half the restaurants in town with cheesecake. FORM is seeing record numbers of cheesecakes flying out their doors, and now people are finally catching on to the fact that they can cook, too. I’m told they aren’t seeing a January lull. They are booking private dinners far beyond their expectations to this point.

Sweet Carolina Cupcakes crossed over the river from Hilton Head and set up shop on Whitaker Street with some of the areas best cupcakes.

Lastly, a couple of ladies on Savannah’s southside turned their macaron hobby into a full-fledged business and have already expanded to a larger location midtown.

The golden arches also made a downtown debut in 2012. (Hey, don’t like it? Don’t eat it.) But the mere fact that something like that was able to open within the historic district showed me that someone was forward thinking. Frankly, the tourists who stop here for a few hours on their way north or south now have an option to eat and run. And if a fast food place keeps them here a little longer, then we all win.

The Coffee Fox, Sage, B&D Burgers, Screamin’ Mimi’s Pizza and Moe’s have all popped up within blocks of each other, so someone is obviously Eating and Liking. Even World of Beer rolled out downtown with a bazillion beers and half a bazillion TVs for those of you who prefer to Drink It and Like It.

Fire Street Food opened on Chippewa Square, an extension of the Ele, Tangerine, King and I brand downtown. Local 11 Ten expanded with their “Perch” upstairs (love that spot) and The Public Kitchen and Bar on Liberty and Bull. Brian Huskey of B. Matthew’s, Blowin’ Smoke and Blue Turtle Bistro rolled out his 5 Spot in the old Clary’s location at Habersham Village. Every time I drive by it’s full. Even Betty Bombers has stuck inside the American Legion Hall on Bull near the park.

Speaking of the park — I have certainly noticed the growth at the Forsyth Farmers Market, haven’t you? I love seeing that place bursting at the seams.

Cafe Florie came on the scene on Barnard Street with accolades pouring in from near and far, including from the New York Tiimes. Leoci’s Trattoria was named top 10 in the state of Georgia by Georgia Trend Magazine. Leopold’s Ice Cream added to their list of awards by helping Savannah be named “City with the Best Ice Cream” in Travel + Leisure, which even got a mention on CNN.

And last but not least, (at least in my book) this little thing we call Eat It and Like It has kept me busier than I ever possibly imagined.  Not only are we sharing this space with you every week, but we got what we hope will be our first of many EMMY Award nominations in 2012.    We have also begun production of Season 3 of our television show.  We launched Savannah’s first gourmet foodie tour,  proving that there are a good many sophisticated palates in this city and a good many have joined us to Eat It and Like It. (all but one has been sold out).  We’ve got big plans for 2013.  I can’t bore you with those details just yet.  You know I will soon enough.    Big hi-five to the cheerleader section who believed when it was just an idea scribbled on a napkin.  You know who you are.  Thank you.

Eat It and Like It launched in Savannah, Georgia with television personality Jesse Blanco as the host. His passion for food and travel has made Eat It and Like It a two-time EMMY nominated program about contemporary and traditional Southern food.