Austin's / Bove Restaurant & Bar / Pastaria 811, 11359 Ocean Highway / The Exchange: 2011 / 2012 (closed,moved) 3 comments
I never went to Bove as my impression of it was always that it was too tony a spot for me to be a regular. It was the type of place that had named chefs and a deep wine selection.
Some time last year, it occurred to me that I never saw any cars there, and I stopped to take a look. There was no indication whatsoever that the place was closed, in fact there was what seemed to be a unique-for-the-day menu posted on the door and all the fixtures were in place. However, that menu never changed, and now that I was paying attention, there were no cars ever.
Bove was on US-17 in Pawleys Island, just north of the Sonic and south of the new Fresh Market. A few miles north on 17 in Litchfield Beach is an office complex and small mall called The Exchange.
My memory is that The Exchange was built in the late 1970s or early 1980s as a very upscale place. I particularly remember that on the north side of the gallery, just above where the tourism office now is (if indeed *that* is still there..) there was a specialty cheese shop, with all sorts of exotic cheeses that you could not (then) find in a typical grocery. There were also jewelers and upscale clothing botiques as well as some art galleries. Well -- it was simply a place that the Grand Strand was not ready for. First, I doubt they truly realized how seasonal the market was -- just because things looked good in June and July didn't mean that you would see customer-one in October, and second, that's not the kind of crowd that came to the beach in those days. Certainly now there are a bunch of well off retirees, but people toting a load of kids to the beach and Pavilion weren't going to have the time or inclination to peruse fancy cheeses -- essentially what happened is that every original tenant went bust over a very short period of time.
The second incarnation of the place was as an art mall. There were several galleries, one of which was very good and stayed many years and others which came and went. There were also spaces for painting classes and exibits and a couple of artist studios.
During this phase one of the long term tenants, The Coffee & Chocolate House opened. I never could understand how they subsisted on the meager foot traffic, but finally decided that mostly the place was a work area for their catering which seemed to carry them (and as far as I know they are still there).
The other long term non-art tenant was Pastaria 811. They were in a back slot which had originally (during the inital incarnation of The Exchange) been some sort of deli, and were a very good Italian restaurant. In fact, I would say they have the best bread on the Grand Strand, and one of the best pizzas in South Carolina (curiously, the other best pizza in SC is now less than a mile removed). In addition, the salads and pasta dishes like "stuffed shells" were quite good as well.
I should probably have tried to cut down the number of pictures of the place that are below after the break, but I'm a little sentimental about it as I ate there with both my mother and father.
As the years passed I ate there less frequently because my hours gradually shifted to the point I would go out to lunch at 3:00, and the Pastaria is one of those places that closes between lunch (ends at 2:30) and dinner (starts at 4:00), but still I would catch pizza there every now and then.
A year or two ago they did a major expansion, opening a new dining room area in what had been part of the Chocolate & Coffee House space (in the meantime, the good art gallery had moved in with the Coffee house), so I was very surprised, after they went to that expense, to hear that they were moving. I can only figure that 1) The Exchange was continuing to implode and they feared for its future stability and 2) The opportunity to get a building directly on US-17 that was already outfitted as a restaurant was too good a deal to pass up.
At any rate, they started moving into the old Bove space in January, and are now up and running. I went by recently, and the bread, stuffed shells and pizza are just as good from the new kitchen as the old.
UPDATE 11 May 2012: Added a picture of the "opening soon" sign above.
UPDATE 7 June 2012: Was reminded that Bove was once Austin's, so I have added that to the post title.