Hidden F&B: Kevin Johnson

Acclaimed Charleston restaurant scene veteran is branching out to Mount Pleasant with a new project close to his heart.
Kevin Johnson



By Helen Mitternight / Image by Andrew Cebulka


Editor's Note: Charleston is such a foodie town that food and beverage superstars are hiding in plain sight, out of theJames Beardlimelight, but still very much creating and serving amazing food and drinks. This series profiles Charleston’s “Hidden F&Bs.”


Seems the new place is the daughter they never had.


You probably know Kevin Johnson well from his acclaimed Charleston restaurant,The Grocery. After all, he’s been nominated repeatedly for aJames Beard Foundation Award.But what you may not know is that this summer, he’s opening a new concept in his home neighborhood out in the ‘burbs. The restaurant heading to 3450 Park Avenue Boulevard in Mount Pleasant's Carolina Park is a relaxed Coastal Mediterranean one calledLola Rose— and after having three sons, Kevin and his wife finally got to use the name they were saving for the daughter that never arrived! Seems the new place is the daughter they never had.


Kevin’s take


Favorite kitchen tool or gadget

Rubber spatulas.


In my refrigerator (three things)

Sparkling water, anchovies, lemons.


In my pantry (three things)

Pasta, cereal (with three boys, it’s a backup and I also will have it when I get home at night), and lots of oils and vinegars.


Comfort food

Collard greens.


Favorite smell

The straining of chicken stock or brown butter with thyme.


Favorite drink

Sparkling water or coffee, depending on the time of day.


Most underrated ingredient



Customer pet peeve

When they treat their aversions like allergies. We treat allergies very seriously, as if we could make someone extremely ill, so if someone says they have an allergy just because they don’t want to experience something, it puts a big hindrance on us.


Favorite meal to cook at home

I make these Asian rice bowls where we roast off a ton of vegetables and marinate chicken and everyone makes their own.


Best advice a mentor gave you

It was the work ethic Frank Lee instilled in me when he hired me.


What’s next

Well, I’ve heard the second restaurant is the hardest and the third one is easy, so we have goals for that!


Kevin Johnson

Kevin Johnson / Image by Andrew Cebulka


Johnson has more to say, and you can listen to him now on thelatest episode of the Hidden F&B podcastbrought to you byCharleston Grit.Tune in on the Home Page of the website, directly to the episode linked above, or wherever you get your podcasts. We can't wait to check out Lola Rose when he opens her doors! 


Curious who's hiding beyond Charleston? Find national episodes of the Hidden F&B podcasthere.