Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Full Day In The Lowcountry--Summerville's "Sweet Tea Day" At The Toast And "The Party In The Park" In Mount Pleasant

Sometimes great things just happen randomly or to put another way, by chance. For me, Tuesday started out like any other day. My plans were to participate in Summerville's "Sweet Tea Day" celebrations early in the day and later attend the "Party in the Park" at Waterfront Park in Mt. Pleasant. No randomness there.

As part of the "Sweet Tea Day" celebration, restaurants throughout Summerville were offering free sweet tea to everyone along with selected house specials. Participating restaurants were West Farm Cafe and Market, Newks, Oscar's Place, Montreux Bar and Grill, Gilligan's, Cantina's Burgers Tacos and Beers, and Toast of Summerville. My plan was to have lunch at the Toast, which would make it my first visit.

Located on Old Trolley Rd, the Toast of Summerville is fast becoming one of town's more popular eateries. It is called the Toast of Summerville because there is also a Toast in Charleston known for its bottomless Mimosas and was hailed as a must-eat by the NY Times.

Upon my arrival, I was greeted by the host, Zach Smith who, when not working at the Toast, is also a performer with the Flowertown Players and recently completed a successful run of "The Three Musketeers" as the character D'Artagnan." I was seated, handed the simple lunch menu, and shortly thereafter greeted by the table's server. She stated the specials and my decision was quick. I chose the Palmetto cheese hamburger topped with bacon and onion special with a side of fries and of course the bottomless free sweet tea.

During my visit, I got to converse with a few of the friendly staff. I learned Channel 2 News along with Summerville Dream's Janyce Hursey and Summerville Visitor Center representative Tina Zimmerman had just left the restaurant fifteen minutes before my arrival. They were asking patrons the question of the day, "How do you like your tea." Notably featured in the interview was the Sweet Tea Mojito making skills of Toast's charming and experienced bartender, Robin. My server, Vanessa, was helpful and willing to engage in small talk, which I consider an important quality in a server. The burger was surprisingly tasteful and after having my fill of sweet tea, which is the way I like it, my pleasant and relaxing visit at Toast came to an end.

The afternoon passed quickly and the evening weather was looking to be superb--no early evening storms on the horizon. A short trip from the baseball parking lot on the open-air trolley to Waterfront Park was rewarded with a stunning view of the Ravenel Bridge towering over the pier in the sun-drenched background. "Artist in Residence" for Awendaw Green, Danielle Howle, kicked-off the festivities and was playing on the raised stage. The sun was hot, so shade was highly sought after if having a good view of the stage wasn't a priority.

I had made arrangements earlier to meet some friends, so I immediately surveyed the crowd to find them, which turned out to be somewhat difficult. The action of the sprawling crowd fanning themselves with their complimentary fans to stay cool looked like sun flowers swaying back and forth in a gentle breeze. It was rather mesmerizing.

A pretty lady standing to my right side, with her cell phone in hand, casually mentioned to me she was looking for a client. Standing there with my cell phone in hand, waiting for a response to an inquiring message, it became profoundly obvious fate was telling us we had something uniquely in common. After waiting a short while without success, we decided to break off our search and spend the rest of the evening keeping each other company.


So, we listened to country-folk-rock duo, the Swon Brothers, play their brand of music, drank some Firefly mixes made from the distillery's Sweet Tea Vodkas and Moonshine brands, and took pictures. Top headliner, Eric Paslay, punctuated the concert under the waning sun singing his recent and most popular hits. With Firefly sold out, a final beer and a walk on the pier in the cooling bay breeze and setting sun was golden, but it didn't end there. The after party moved to Red's Ice House where under a near full moon we drank in the color-soaked waters of Shem Creek and a few brews to light-hearted conversation.

Yes, sometimes great things just happen by chance. From a serendipitous occurrence earlier in the evening, a new friendship was forged.

The June 17th lineup includes McKenna Andrews, Jana Kramer and Charlie Worsham.

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