Green, fresh, and cheap —how's that for a concept?
Nick Bergelt, a 23-year-old with a fly suit and a tight business plan, is bringing WOK to 349 King St.(former space of Chopsticks). An acronym for World Oriental Kitchen, WOK is an "eco-friendly fast casual restaurant."
Bergelt, a recent graduate of the Darla Moore School of Business at USC, has worked for two years putting together his idea for WOK, a place that he says will be a healthier alternative to typical fast food fare.
The globally-inspired menu presents customers with three choices. Pick a $5 base like noodles, rice, or an organic spring mix. Add some ingredients — there's 25 to choose from —like all-natural, hormone-free chicken, local shrimp, Niman Ranch beef, bamboo shoots, edamame, baby corn, and the like. And then top it with one of 10 sauces. Bergelt's favorite combo: duck with organic tofu and sweet and spicy plum sauce.
The prices will be economical — he expects you can get out of there for under $10 — and the fresh food will be cooked-to-order via high-heat woks.
He's currently in talks with a couple of finalists for the job of executive chef. Even though the menu and concept is easy to implement, Bergelt says he's interested in providing a culinary experience, particularly at that price point. "We'll have an open kitchen and they'll be wearing chef's jackets," he says. "And we'll always be reinventing our flavor profiles."
In addition to the S.C. Certified Fresh menu, which will be as organic, locally-sourced, and eco-conscious as possible, the beer and wine list will be fully sustainable and the building will be green. To that end, he's working with Studio 2LR out of Columbia to create a truly green restaurant.
"We're using renewable solar and wind," he says. "The countertops are made from 2,000 recycled detergent bottles. We're trying to bridge the gap. To take lead in sustainable dining so people can feel good about it. It's 100 percent in line with the earth."
When it comes to the earth, everything's been considered. They'll use eco-friendly cleaners, post-consumer recycled napkins and toilet paper, LED lights, biodegradable containers made from cornstarch, organic cotton uniforms, bicycle delivery, onsite recycling and composting, and also donating resources and support to community efforts like the Charleston County Sustainability Dining education initiative.
"We are trying to begin to educate people about the sustainable dining movement," says Bergelt. "It's so new, a lot of people don't know about it."
The opening date is set for mid-September, and you can keep track of his progress on WOK's Facebook page.