"The core of the place is Steampunk," Thompson explains. "The restaurant looks 1800s, very Victorian with muted colors. Steampunk colors aren’t bright colors — teal, burgandy, tan. The toilet paper holder is made out of pipes. It's like if the future happened sooner. It’s like a science fiction thing, taking 1800s, that movie Wild Wild West,
science fiction and putting them all together
— that's kind of like the restaurant."
After running Chick-fil-As for 37 years, the Charleston native says he wanted to give his own idea for a restaurant a spin. "I told my wife, 'Listen, before I die, let me do my concept.'"
That concept will be called Krazy Owls
, a name that plays off the Lowcountry's many adjective-plus-animal restaurant names. "We were looking for a place and I wanted a theme. We had a Fat Hen across the street. There's Green Goat, Tattooed Moose, which I thought was a tattoo parlor. My wife suggested Krazy Owls and owls are my favorite bird," he says — name solved.
So what do Steampunk enthusiasts eat at Krazy Owls? Thompson says his restaurant will be a family friendly sports bar with reasonable prices. "I want to take a sports bar and a fancy restaurant and merge them together. No one is doing that. When you go to a nice restaurant, you can’t get wings and pizza. We’re putting the two together, keeping some of the same menu items from Sweeney's," he says. "I want it to be more sensitive to working families and those moving to Johns Island. When it costs $11 or $12 on Johns Island for a burger, that's crazy."
And Thompson hopes Krazy Owls will appeal to kids as well. His wife is helping design a healthier kids' menu that's not filled with grilled cheese, mac 'n' cheese, and fries.
But Krazy Owls won't just be about the food. "It’s an entertainment restaurant. You gotta see all the stuff we’re doing," Thompson says. "I’m a Disney fan, I go five times a year, so I said, what would Disney do with a restaurant?"
With that in mind, Thompson has invested in a series of Steampunk hats guests can wear to take selfies. Plus, the restaurant will be filled with TVs and a few surprises he's keeping secret until the opening. And his years of Chick-fil-A's "It would be my pleasure" customer service style, is at the heart of what Thompson hopes to do. "I want it to be nourishing to the soul and the stomach," he says.
Thompson plans to unlock Krazy Owls' doors on March 1.
If there's one thing I can appreciate, it's moxie, and Al Thompson has plenty. He's about to open the Lowcountry's first Steampunk-themed restaurant on Johns Island in the former Sweeney's (3157 Maybank Hwy.).