New wine bar, coffee shop opening soon on Charleston’s East Side | Food

New wine bar, coffee shop opening soon on Charleston’s East Side | Food

Two highly anticipated establishments are nearing opening dates in downtown Charleston’s East Side neighborhood.

City Lights Coffee, which grew a dedicated following during its 15 years on Market Street, and Bar Rollins, a wine bar that’s introduced itself through a series of pop-ups, will both open in the coming months.

Bar Rollins will be at 194 Jackson St. across from Tobin’s Market, which reopened Jan. 31 after closing for the month due to concerns about COVID-19. City Lights will take over the long-vacant 12 Line St. space that housed a billiards bar more than 50 years ago.

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Community café

City Lights owners Candace Patterson and Gregg Lambton-Carr served a mostly local crowd when they first opened their small café steps away from Charleston Place in 2006. As the area and city grew, more Charleston tourists visited City Lights.

“Our biggest goal was to be a part of the community. If you were a tourist for five days, we wanted you to feel like you had a home,” Patterson said. “It was a thriving, wonderful place, then COVID happened, which also coincided with the end of our lease.”

A subsequent rent increase made continuing to operate on Market Street next to impossible. After taking some time off, the duo landed on a new location for City Lights: A Line Street building steps away from East Side breakfast taco spot Dos Taqueria and Lucky Luchador, an Irish cantina that’s set to open in the former Palace Hotel space this spring.

“I love the East Side. We went to the last neighborhood meeting and received an unbelievable response from all parts of the community,” Patterson said. “We’re excited to get in there and be a spot for everybody. We just want to be a vibrant place in the community and a meeting spot.”

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While the old City Lights was modeled after a small 1910s-inspired Parisian coffee bar, Patterson and Lambton-Carr will use the new space’s larger footprint to expand City Lights’ offering. Equipped with an outdoor patio and a bigger kitchen, City Lights will serve more morning and daytime food options, along with wine and beer. Out of respect to the neighborhood, the patio area will open later than the coffee shop at 9 a.m. and close in the early evening, Patterson said. 

“Now that we have more room, we can put a couple of kegs in, we can have a wine fridge, we can have a happy hour,” Patterson said. “We’re excited to be a spot that will be a coffee spot with some additions.”

Building owner Doug Hickerson will begin his renovations soon, and John Sullivan is the architect for the project. City Lights is targeting a summer 2022 opening.

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‘Bar Rollins loves you’

Most wine bar owners sell merchandise and start email newsletters after they’ve opened — not Bar Rollins owners Chris Rollins and Jess Vande Werken.

Through Bar Rollins’ newsletter and Instagram account, Rollins and Vande Werken hinted at a future wine bar throughout 2021. Most entries ended with the signature: “Bar Rollins loves you.”

Bar Rollins building

Bar Rollins will open at 194 Jackson St. in spring 2022. Chris Rollins/Provided 

The cryptic posts left a lot to the imagination, and even now, after they signed a lease to open Bar Rollins at 194 Jackson St., the duo is staying tight-lipped about what’s to come at the forthcoming wine bar.

“We never closed. We are opening. If I could see all my friends tonight it would be at Bar Rollins,” they wrote in their newsletter after the opening. “Cheers to all. See you this spring. Bar Rollins loves you.”

In an email to The Post and Courier, Rollins described the forthcoming project as “a wine dive bar more or less” that’s “natural wine focused and (offers) a small snack menu.”

Pop-ups have helped Bar Rollins build excitement ahead of its opening. At Babas on Cannon, Munkle Brewing Co. and other locations, chefs like FIG’s Jason Stanhope and Dough Boyz Pizza’s Evan Romano and Jasmine Cofer served food to pair with wines selected by Bar Rollins.

“Pop-ups have been a massive help,” Rollins said. “Would advise anyone and everyone to do pop-ups.”

Bar Rollins will host at least one more pop-up before its spring opening. On Feb. 25, Bar Rollins will visit Lo-Fi Brewing alongside Weltons Fine Foods wood-fired pizza pop-up, musician Veja Du and DJ Sista Misses.

Rollins says the best way to stay informed about the wine bar’s upcoming opening date is to follow their Instagram account and subscribe to their newsletter.

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Reach Parker Milner at 843-830-3911. Follow him on Twitter @parkermilner_.