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Charleston's restaurant industry heating up

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The restaurant industry in Charleston is thriving. Now many fine dining restaurant owners are opening second restaurants with a cheaper menu.

"It's anything from French influences, Cajun influences, good old southern cooking," General Manager of Lowcountry Bistro Patrick Kish said.

Lowcountry Bistro is the new bistro on the block in the heart of Charleston's tourist district on Market Street. It is owned and operated by the same family who owns the fine dining restaurant, 82 Queen.

"We saw the economy on an uplift. I wouldn't have opened this restaurant up in 2008, 2009. After we got through 2011 and saw how great things were getting, our business up 20%, 2012 rolls around, it was time to do it," owner Stephen Kish said.

The Kish family describes the bistro as casual, but with fine dining aspects.

They aren't the only fine dining owners opening a second restaurant, with a less expensive menu. For the group that owns and operates Tristan in downtown Charleston, it's hammers to nails and nails to walls, at their second restaurant on Sam Rittenburg Boulevard.

"Something that is a little bit different, on this side of town. Something I think is in the West Ashley price range, as well as a fun environment," Bucks said.

The owners of Tristan are keeping the name of the new restaurant a secret, but say they hope to open by the end of summer.

Lowcountry Bistro and 82 Queen owner Stephen Kish is also chairman of the Charleston Restaurant Association.  He says business is cooking and diners are hungry for options when it comes to eating out.

"Charleston has been very blessed with the tourism that comes through here; our CVB does a great job of getting folks in town. It's just been a positive past couple of years," Kish said.

More new restaurants are on the horizon in downtown Charleston, including Craftsmen Kitchen and Tap House on Cumberland Street and Cesca on Faber Street.

Last year the city of Charleston issued nearly 100 licenses for new restaurants and bars. So far in 2012 the city has licensed 40.

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