South of Pearl brings uptown cuisine to Darlington
By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Built in 1899, the elegant two-story residence located at 117 Edwards Avenue has been home to some of Darlington’s more upscale citizens. Now, under the guidance of new owner/proprietor Todd Hardee, that “uptown” spirit is alive again with the home’s reincarnation as South of Pearl, a restaurant and venue with authentic southern class and charm.
Hardee says the home was of particular interest because the property lies adjacent to the Kistler-Hardee Funeral Home, and Hardee had an informal agreement with the homeowner to buy if the family ever decided to sell. So when that opportunity arose, he bought the house even though he was initially unsure what to do with it.
Contractor Lee Privette went through and made a few spot repairs, and then Hardee suggested a few more things, and then a few more, and a few more, until they found themselves in the midst of a full-scale renovation. The decision to edge toward transforming the home into a restaurant came when Hardee realized he could run the place as a part-time eatery and full-time rentable location for parties, meetings, and other events.
“I’ve always loved to cook and I like the restaurant business, but I don’t have time for it, so I wanted to find a way to cook as a hobby and open up this house for the people of the community to use for wedding receptions and that sort of stuff… on a smaller basis than the Darlington Country Club,” says Hardee. “We took an older home and turned it into a venue.”
Hardee and Privette played up unique architectural details – like the home’s spacious wraparound porch now bedecked with cushy rocking chairs – and salvaged many others, like several old window frames transformed into mirrors, and the wooden doors converted into a warm and welcoming bar where guests can enjoy wine and cocktails.
The home also pays particular tribute to one famed former resident, Elizabeth Boatwright Coker, the novelist and wife of Sonoco owner James Lide Coker III. In the upstairs (which will soon be open for expanded seating), Hardee dedicated a room to her memory with a lovely portrait and several of her published works on display.
South of Pearl is open Thursday evenings for dinner, featuring a rotating menu of seasonal local produce and fresh meats procured from farmers and ranchers as close to Darlington as possible. Reservations are advised, as the current seating capacity of 48 gets booked up fast. Menu announcements are made on the South of Pearl Facebook page, and you can reserve seats by phoning the restaurant or messaging through Facebook.
For more information, visit www.SouthofPearl.com online or call (843) 857-8438.