Chef, restaurateur, TV star, and cookbook author Vivian Howard is opening not one but two restaurants in Charleston this summer. The North Carolina-based chef will build an IRL version of her online bakeshop, Handy + Hot, as well as Lenoir, a “casual yet refined restaurant,” to the downtown spot.
The location, 68 Wentworth St., is the home of the Renaissance Charleston Hotel, which has hosted several restaurants over the last decade, including 1KEPT, Barony Tavern, and Wentworth Grill.
Lenoir, named for the Eastern N.C. county where Howard’s family lives, will feature Southern food that “exalts” regional fare, with a streamlined menu that “will reflect the frugal farmer, rather than traditional Lowcountry cooking.” The menu will consist of small plates for sharing, paired with affordable wines and plenty of local craft brews.
Handy + Hot will serve as a modern take on an American coffee shop serving grab-and-go biscuits, hand pies, Southern pastries, juices, and a full coffee menu. Slide into H+H during lunch for seasonal salads, sandwiches, and sides.
Architect David Thompson (the guy behind the design of The Ordinary, Butcher & Bee, Mercantile & Mash, The Belmont, The Grocery, and more) will help Howard re-haul the space with a high-end design that expands guests’ understanding of the American South.[content-1] A big ask? Nothing that Vivian Howard’s brand can’t handle. As she says on her website: “I work to blend family, food, and storytelling in a way that touches people and reminds them of where they came from.”
Howard, whose family owns two restaurants in Kinston, N.C., and another in Wilmington, was the focus of the public television series A Chef’s Life, which ended its five-season run in 2019 and earned a Peabody and Emmy Award. Howard’s new show, Somewhere South, is set to debut on PBS by spring.