While Columbia can check off a few new restaurant concepts, some food and drinking choices could stand out more, experts said.
“Columbia’s always had this issue: We want to be a big-city environment,” said Neal Smoak, director of the University of South Carolina’s McCuthen House in the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management. “That very high-end market still eludes Columbia. ... (It’s) never going to be a New York.”
Smoak’s colleague, Joel Reynolds, an instructor in the college and executive chef at the McCutchen House, said he’d like to see more of the following trends, which are just getting started in the area:
• Craft breweries and microbreweries. Columbia has one longstanding microbrewery in Hunter Gatherer. Craft brewers, such as Conquest and River Rat, which can sell their brews outside venues, are just joining on the scene.
• Food trucks and food carts. The city is “starting to pick up on that,” Reynolds said, with more carts along Main Street and a handful of regular food trucks, such as 2 Fat 2 Fly and Wurst Wagen, circulating.
• Bakeries. The city is seeing some new bakeries, such as Crust on Rosewood Drive and Silver Spoon on Devine Street. But Reynolds said he would like to see more outlets making their own breads and cakes. “All three of them are starting, but I could definitely see more of a competition needed,” Reynolds said.