HIDDEN F&B: Steve Palmer, The Indigo Road Hospitality Group

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.”)

Normally, Steve Palmer is far from hidden. The head ofThe Indigo Road Hospitality Groupthat includes popular restaurants Indaco,O-Ku Sushi,The Macintosh,Mercantile & Mash,The Cocktail ClubandOak Steakhouseis well known in Charleston. But, in these difficult quarantine days, everyone is hidden.

Please check out the links at the end for how you can help the almost 1,000 employees laid off, and how you can find support if you are in the food and beverage industry and are dealing with substance abuse.

Steve’s take:

Favorite Kitchen Tool or Gadget: Tongs. I can use them with my grill.

In My Refrigerator (3 Things): Garlic, butter, cream.

In My Pantry (3 Things): Olive oil, sea salt. Think that’s it!

Favorite After-work Hangout: My couch.

Favorite Charleston Restaurant Other Than Yours: FIG.And I thinkMalagónis my favorite new restaurant in the city.

Comfort Food: Ice cream. It has always beenJeni’sSalty Caramel. But this is a plea. There’s a local ice cream company calledOff Trackand they had a honeycomb flavor with bits of honeycomb in the ice cream. It’s been discontinued. I don’t know the owners, but please bring it back!

Favorite Smell: Other than my wife’s perfume, rosemary.

Favorite Drink: Cold brew. I’m drinking one right now.

Number of Hours You Work a Week: 80.

Customer Pet Peeve: We love our guests. We try to visit every table. But if we ask if you’re enjoying yourself and you say yes and then go outside and trash us on social media… please, give us the opportunity to fix whatever it is!

Most Under-rated Ingredient: Rosemary. This new generation of chefs isn’t using it as much.

Favorite Meal to Cook at Home: I’m going to dig one out from the archives. Patina in Los Angeles had a recipe for lobster risotto. Otherwise, simply grilling meats on my grill.

Best Advice From a Mentor: It was [restaurateur]Danny Meyer[of Union Square Hospitality Group]. He said if you want your guests to have a hospitable experience, your employees first have to have a hospitable experience.

What’s Next? I want to rebuild Indigo Road. And I look forward to the lessons I’m learning right now, lessons I don’t even know about and that I will only learn in retrospect. And I look forward to becoming a better restaurateur.

If you want to buy a gift card to help Indigo Road employees, 100% of the purchase goes to the employees while Indigo Road bears the actual cost of the meal:theindigoroad.com/giftcards/

If you are struggling with addiction and you are in the food and beverage industry:bensfriendshope.com/

Want more? Check out the special companionHidden F&B Coronavirus Edition Podcast Episode with Steve!