Hidden F&B: Mike Lata

Helen Mitternight

By Helen Mitternight

(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.”)

We never got around to answering questions about “favorite ingredient” or anything else we normally ask. But then, these are not normal times forMike Lata,James Beard Award-winning chef and partner atThe Ordinaryoyster bar andFIG Restaurant. 

While he’s not normally “hidden,” these days he’s rudderless with both of the popular establishments currently closed.

His days are now filled with home-schooling his 8-year-old son, and a very different kind of life with his new wife,Jenni Ridall,owner ofTK Culinary Consulting & Test Kitchen. 

Lata talks about what it was like deciding to close both restaurants to get ahead of the evolving threat of Covid-19: “Our daily mantra is let’s make the best decision today with the information we have today.”

He also discusses how most restaurants, even the good ones, are one step ahead of insolvency, and how the government’sPayroll Protection Programhas left independent restaurants like his “in the dust.”

Concerned about displaced workers, a fundraising effort has been established to help offset health insurance and other costs for the nearly 100 employees of both restaurants. Want to contribute? Go to theFood is Good Restaurant Worker Relief Fundpage now.

And listen to Mike on another special Coronavirus Edition of our Hidden F&B podcast!