Restaurateurs Daniel “Dano” and Bettany Hines make their first-ever dining room set-up for their upcoming venture, Vern’s (41 Bogard Street, Charleston). A vendor had delivered a large consignment of wine just before the eater was photographed, and the cartons were everywhere. Everything is on hand to remove debris, polish windows, and light candles scattered in the room. Once the clutter is gone, and the room begins to focus – it’s a vision of a modern, upscale, modern and fantastic restaurant.
Opening Thursday, July 14, Vern’s is supposed to be an American bistro next door; It is located in the predominantly residential area of Cannonborough / Elliotborough. “We wanted this space because of the corner location,” Dano says, “we love the tightness of the restaurant – it helps create the ambiance we’re looking for. We want it lively with good music playing.”
The couple has spent the past year and a half using mismatched French chairs, bringing back tables they inherited from former Italian spot Trattoria Lucca, and picking up pieces to bring the room together. “New stuff is great in the kitchen, but old stuff is great in the dining room,” Dano says.
Although this may be Heinze’s first restaurant, they are absolute professionals in the food and beverage industry. Dano was the chef at the Charleston establishment, McCrady and Bethany ran the bar, before they left for Los Angeles in 2016 to work with celebrity restaurateurs John Schock and Vinny Dotolo (Animal and John & Vinnies). The couple returned to Lowcountry in 2021, ready to contribute to the Charleston community.
In the kitchen, Dano draws from his work with hyper-local produce in McCrady, ingredient-based cooking in California, and travels across Europe with Bethany. He describes the food as “American-style cuisine that can be shared”. The menu is divided into three sections: small plates, including made-to-order sourdough flatbread; Heavy vegetables and pasta section. and proteins of greater coordination.
When asked to give an example of a dish he knew would be on the opening menu, Dano said, “One of my favorite things is grilled chicken. So there will be a whole poisson that’s roasted, salted overnight, and toasted, and served with brown butter chicken. It was tossed with olive oil and black pepper.” There is no set menu yet (as of publication of this article), but it will be updated daily with limited-availability specials featuring super local produce.
“We wanted to be really intentional,” says Bethany, “We wanted a restaurant that felt personal and original. We didn’t want to be “conceptual,” we wanted to highlight the creativity of our employees and the food and wine we enjoy eating daily, weekly, and monthly.”
In addition to serving dinner, Vern’s will serve brunch on weekends. Dano calls it “a lighter brunch than we’re all used to,” so think omelets, sandwiches, and lots of veggies, rather than crackers and gravy.
Behind the bar, Vern’s focuses on wine and wine-based cocktails featuring sherry, vermouth, a rotating list of local beers, and a few of the couple’s international favorites. “Our wine list is an adventurous selection from around the world with no particular region or different varieties to package it in,” says Bethany, “It’s wines made in ways in the same spirit that we expect from our purveyors.” Wine selections are also expected to rotate quickly.
Dano says, “This restaurant is literally Bethany and I, and it comes out the way we wanted it to. It was really fun to see how it went. Now, we’ve seen the dining room together for the first time. And it looks great. Our mind set what we wanted our first restaurant to be.”
Heinze drove to this opening with sale popups all over town, so it’s easy to imagine reservations going through just as quickly. After July 14, Vern’s will be open Thursday through Monday for dinner, 5pm to 10pm; And Saturday and Sunday for lunch, from noon to 2:30 pm