The culinary minds behind the upcoming Society: Sandwich Bar and Social Club, which is set to open in the second week of April in the old Charlie’s Steakhouse location at 18 E. Coffee St., are driven by one key concept: having fun.
“That’s our main goal no matter what,” said chef Chris Rosensteel, who is launching the new restaurant concept alongside his business partner Jeremy Krauze. “We try to have fun with food, first and foremost, and then correlate that with our business ventures.”
For example, last year Krauze was throwing an anniversary party for White Rabbit Supply Co., the lifestyle and culture clothing brand he founded. So he hired Rosensteel, who owns the catering company Uptown Company, to handle the food. Rosensteel could’ve gone for a classic crowd pleaser — barbecue, pizza, burgers, etc. — but instead he asked: What would be the most fun?
“So we ended up smoking a whole alligator for that party,” Rosensteel said. “It was a great time.”
You won’t find whole smoked alligator on the menu at Society: Sandwich Bar and Cafe when it opens its doors, but you can find that same fun-centric philosophy driving the food.
The restaurant will offer a wide-ranging selection of 16 different sandwiches and build-your-own ramen bowls. The sandwiches are all designed to be roughly equal in size to a Wendy’s Junior Bacon Cheeseburger, but the flavor combinations will be much more eclectic. Options include a deep fried PB&J reminiscent of a toaster strudel; a “Pig Mac,” which is a mac n’ cheese cake with shredded barbecue and signature sauce; a healthy open-face Mediterranean sandwich; and more combinations that highlight Spanish, Latin, Italian and other global cuisines.
“You can snack or mix and match and hopefully experience a bunch of different flavors,” Krauze said. “That’s why we went with the name ‘Society,’ that umbrella of all culture, as a way of showcasing all these different regions and styles.”
That holistic take on flavors is also what led the duo to experiment with build-your-own ramen bowls. Rosensteel is well aware that sandwiches and ramen aren’t traditionally the most obvious combination, but that’s exactly what made the concept so appealing for him and Krauze.
“There are some great ramen houses in Greenville already, but they’re all pretty traditional,” he said.
The whole “something for everybody” approach can be a risky endeavor, they both admit, so they’d rather say they’re aiming for an overall accessibility — a place that will be just as appealing to the business professional in formal wear as it will the casual sweatpants crowd.
“We don’t like pretentiousness,” Krauze said, “and we don’t do stuffy. Come in wearing flip-flops and shorts or come on in wearing your button-down and sports coat and have a great happy hour. It’s a room for all walks of life.”
The 16 sandwiches and build-your-own ramen bowls will be on the menu daily, but the menu will also feature daily or weekly specials and experimental sandwich creations, as well as fun takes on holiday food throughout the year (think a Thanksgiving or Christmas sandwich, whatever that looks like to you).
The cocktail menu will highlight unique drinks as well as the standard classics.
The restaurant will be open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.