Sweet Jane’s brings upscale casual dining to Darlington

Sweet Jane's co-owner Jane Johnson prepares to ice a freshly baked cake. Photos by Samantha Lyles

Sweet Jane’s co-owner Jane Johnson prepares to ice a freshly baked cake.
Photos by Samantha Lyles

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, slyles@newsandpress.net

“For a large part of our life, we’ve cooked and catered and given parties, with the idea that somewhere down the line we would like to do that as a living,” says Jane Johnson, the nurse-turned-restaurateur whose name is on the sign at Darlington’s newest eatery, Sweet Jane’s Cafe and Wine Bar.

With husband Gary Johnson and her brother Julian McLennon, Jane co-owns the nifty little bistro housed at 26 Public Square, the former home of the Chameleon Art Gallery. Jane says she had her eye on this space for a while – long enough to start imagining ways to make her family’s dream a reality.

“We moved to Darlington three years ago, bought an old house and began fixing it up, and every time I came through town I would see this property and I just fell in love with it,” says Jane. “I thought it would be the perfect place to put what we want to do.”

Their business concept evolved over time from a bakery to a sandwich shop to a full-on restaurant with elegant food and a nice selection of craft beers and quality wines.

“I would be driving home from work and wishing there was someplace I could stop, and there just wasn’t anything nearby,” Jane says, noting that the downtown location should appeal to others looking for a cool spot to decompress after work. “We wanted to be somewhere that people could walk to, where they could come after work and relax, have a glass of wine and something to eat and socialize with their friends.”

The cozy dining room at Sweet Jane's Photo by Samantha Lyles

The cozy dining room at Sweet Jane’s
Photo by Samantha Lyles

Sporting natural woodwork and warm tones, the dining area is welcoming and bright, but cozy enough for intimate date night dinners. The menu focuses on fresh, seasonal ingredients, with locally sourced items used whenever possible. Items range from crisp and flavorful salads to sandwiches to charcuterie trays of savory meats and cheeses. A tapas menu is available for those seeking novel snacks, and heartier entrees boast an array of meats smoked in-house and slow-cooked stocks.

“We want to be able to offer variety,” says Jane. “Everything is fresh; nothing is from a can.”

For those looking to enjoy a potent potable with their meal, Sweet Jane’s offers a variety of craft beers – both bottled and on tap – and a wine cellar sure to please the vino enthusiast. In fact, those looking to learn more about wine can reserve a spot in one of Sweet Jane’s wine tasting and education events. For $20, guests can enjoy samples of several different wines (paired with light foods to complement each) while learning about the grapes and procedures involved in making some of today’s most popular varietals. The first of these classes is set for April 28, and Gary says more will follow. Check in with Sweet Jane’s on Facebook for details.

Reservations are also required for Sweet Jane’s Saturday date night dinners, which offer new special menu items that change every week.

“We found that Saturday night was really slow because so many people go to Florence… and we were trying to think of a way to keep them in Darlington. It also gives us the chance to expand and play with our menu a little bit,” says Jane. “So far, we’ve had a really good response. Some people have been here every Saturday night.”

Sweet Jane’s Cafe and Wine Bar is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 am to 9 pm, with brunch and date night dinners served on Saturdays. For reservations or more information, call 843-393-0550.

Sweet Jane's offers a well stocked wine bar, with selections curated by co-owner Gary Johnson Photo by Samantha Lyles

Sweet Jane’s offers a well stocked wine bar, with selections curated by co-owner Gary Johnson
Photo by Samantha Lyles

Author: Jana Pye

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