Charleston loves a moratorium. In the last few years we’ve seen the temporary prohibition of hotel construction, development, and new bars. But why stop there? How about a moratorium on ampersand restaurants.
This “Thing & Thing” trend has reached maximum cliche and you don’t need to visit the Hipster Business Name Generator website to know it. Just look around:
Sorghum & Salt
Ice & Pan
Caviar & Bananas
Butcher & Bee
Mercantile & Mash
Tavern & Table
Pancito & Lefty
Dog & Duck
Swig & Swine
Ink N Ivy (worse?)
Stems & Skins
Grace & Grit
Butcher & the Boar (see below)
Hen & The Goat
Wood & Grain
How did all this & business start? You could blame St. Philip Street’s former Hope & Union coffee shop for kicking off the trend, but for a deeper cut, we’re looking at you first century A.D. Pompeian graffiti artist.
According to Mental Floss, some rogue artist used “&” on a wall as a cursive “et.” It stuck and eventually infiltrated the alphabet becoming the 27 letter after Z. “Kids starting inserting the phrase ‘and per se and’ to distinguish it,'” Mental Floss continues, “and over time, this all got blended together to sound more and more like ‘ampersand.'” From there, it was only a matter of time before foodie font designers got behind it.
According to Dujour.com, the ampersand becoming intertwined with the idea of handcraftedness began in New York City in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when sign makers welded metal signs together by hand. “Having an ampersand in your name associates you with artisanal, bespoke, handcrafted movement,” Phillip Baltz, president of restaurant PR firm Baltz & Co, font-splained to the publication.
But like the slapdash Footloose reboot, today there’s nothing bespoke or original about the played out phrasing. (See: Cracker Barrel’s Millennial biscuit chain Holler & Dash.) Yet even with writers pointing out ampersand name fatigue, the Lowcountry continues to churn them out. We’ll give a pass to O.G. Fast & French — it was working its loop-de-loops back in 1984. Recent arrival Mt. Pleasant’s Grace & Grit, however? Naw, son.
Until Mayor Tecklenburg (or should we say Teckl & Berg) sees the seriousness of this issue (think of the Charleston “brand,” Teck!) and calls for a moratorium, it’s only going to get worse. Even as I type, the expression persists beyond his reach. Just today another “&” restaurant was announced. P&C reports the Minneapolis-based concept Butcher & the Boar is opening in Mt. Pleasant’s former Southerly space.
For the love of creative writing, make it stop.
Please & Thanks.