Eat

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Cory Burke is closing the Green Door, but he will roll on

Business Lessons

Posted by Stephanie Barna on Thu, Oct 10, 2013 at 2:37 PM

click to enlarge Cory Burke will be back on the streets after losing out on Big John's deal - JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek
  • Cory Burke will be back on the streets after losing out on Big John's deal
After investing upwards of $25,000 and nearly a year building his restaurant business, The Green Door's Cory Burke is finding himself back on the streets where he began with his Roti Rolls food truck.

Ryan Condon, who purchased Big John's Tavern back in 1991 from the original Big John (and former NY Giant) John Cannady, intends to take Big John's back to what it was — and Burke and the Green Door have no place in it. Condon was not available for comment, but a source closely associated with him and his business, who wished not to be identified, says the bar was not run well by Condon's nephews and that Condon wants to take it back to what it was originally.  

Condon's nephews had been running the business since 1999, according to a report by the Post and Courier, and Burke had reached an informal agreement with them to run the restaurant and eventually take over the Big John's bar operations too, which he did a few months back. "Our long-term plan was a big renovation and a rooftop bar," Burke told me in a phone call yesterday. 

For a young entrepreneur like Burke, the situation was a good deal. He was able to get a good location in the heart of downtown for minimal investment. "It would have cost me $100,000 to $250,000 to renovate another space and get up and running." Instead, a colorful update to the Big John's back room and an aggressive social media campaign spread the word about their innovative cuisine.

The accolades soon followed. Back in February, Robert Moss deemed it one of the ten best places to eat in Charleston and in his March review had some glowing praise: "They're marching to the beat of their own drum and creating food that's novel and delicious. They're already becoming the forward-thinking crowd's go-to spot for lunch or some spicy late-night munchies. Behind those green double doors, there's some serious cooking going on."

Unfortunately, it seems Ryan Condon has no use for that kind of food, telling the P&C, "I don’t even know what the hell grilled kimchee is; I just want to restore Big John’s the way it was.”

Burke had planned to close Oct. 31 with a big party as a way to try and make some money before losing his business, but those plans might be blocked by Condon, who told P&C that the idea of a big party was "scary." 

Here's hoping Condon has a change of heart and lets the Green Door go out in style. Burke and his employees could use the send-off. He says they'll be looking at an opportunity in DC, but his main source of revenue will once again be the Roti Rolls truck. 

In the meantime, Burke has learned an expensive business lesson. "Get it in writing," he says. "You can't trust that other people will take care of you."

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