Getting charged with a crime in Bluffton can be a traumatic experience. Even "petty" crimes can cause an individual's life to fall apart professionally and personally. Spending time in jail is bad enough, but the ramifications of a criminal record run deep, resulting in loss of employment, loss of friends, and even family. For many people, having a zealous criminal defense attorney in Bluffton, SC, to defend their rights is the only shot they have of living a normal life.
That's why, if you have been charged with a crime, you need the help of a veteran criminal defense lawyer early in the legal process. That's where CDH Law Firm comes in to give you or your loved one hope when you need it the most.
Our criminal defense law firm was founded to help people just like you - hardworking men and women who are looking at diminished employment opportunities and a possible lifetime of embarrassment. But with our team of experts fighting by your side, you have a much better chance of maintaining your freedom and living a normal, productive life. When it comes to criminal law in Bluffton, we've seen it all. With decades of combined experience, there is no case too complicated or severe for us to handle, from common DUI charges to complicated cases involving juvenile crimes. Unlike some of our competition, we prioritize personalized service and cutting-edge criminal defense strategies to effectively represent our clients.
Clients rank Cobb Dill & Hammett, LLC as the top choice for Bluffton criminal defense because we provide:
Choosing the right criminal defense lawyer in Bluffton can mean the difference between conviction and acquittal. Our firm has represented thousands of clients in the Lowcountry, and we're ready to defend you too. Some of our specialties include:
DUI penalties in Bluffton can be very harsh. Many first-time DUI offenders must endure a lifelong criminal record, license suspension, and the possibility of spending time in jail. Officers and judges take DUI very seriously, with 30% of traffic fatalities in South Carolina involving impaired drivers, according to NHTSA. Criminal convictions can have lasting impacts on your life, which is why CDH Law Firm works so hard to get these charges dismissed or negotiated down. In some cases, we help clients avoid jail time altogether.
The bottom line? Our criminal law defense attorneys will do everything possible to keep you out of jail with a clean permanent record. It all starts with a free consultation, where we will take time to explain the DUI process. We'll also discuss your defense options and speak at length about the differences between going to trial and accepting a plea bargain.
The consequences of a DUI in Bluffton depend on a number of factors, including your blood alcohol level and how many DUIs you have received in the last 10 years. If you're convicted, the DUI charge will remain on your criminal history and can be seen by anyone who runs a background check on you. Sometimes, a judge will require you to enter alcohol treatment or install an interlock device on your automobile.
If you're on the fence about hiring a criminal defense lawyer in Bluffton, SC, consider the following DUI consequences:
48 hours to 90 days
Five days to three years
60 days to five years
Additional consequences can include:
When convicted of DUI in South Carolina, most offenders must join the Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program. This program mandates that offenders complete a drug and alcohol assessment and follow the recommended treatment options.
Some first-time DUI offenders in Bluffton may choose to complete community service in lieu of jail time. Community service hours are usually equal to the length of jail time an offender would be required to serve.
Typically, when a person is convicted of driving under the influence in Bluffton, their driver's license is restricted or suspended. The length of restriction or suspension depends on how many prior DUI convictions an individual has.
First-time DUI offenders must endure a six-month license suspension. Drivers convicted with a blood-alcohol level of .15% or more do not qualify for a provisional license. However, sometimes they may still drive using an ignition interlock device.
Offenders convicted of a second DUI charge must use an ignition interlock device (IID) for two years.
Offenders convicted of a third DUI charge must use an ignition interlock device (IID) for three years. That term increases to four years if the driver is convicted of three DUIs in five years.
For offenders with two or more convictions, the judge will immobilize their vehicle if it is not equipped with an IID. When a judge immobilizes a vehicle, the owner must turn over their registration and license plate. Clearly, the consequences of receiving a DUI in Bluffton can be life-changing, and not in a good way. The good news is that with CDH Law Firm, you have a real chance at beating your charges and avoiding serious fines and jail time. Every case is different, which is why it's so important that you call our office as soon as possible if you are charged with a DUI.
Most drivers brush off traffic law violations as minor offenses, but the fact of the matter is they are criminal matters to be taken seriously. Despite popular opinion, Traffic Violation cases in Bluffton can carry significant consequences like fines and even incarceration. If you or someone you love has been convicted of several traffic offenses, your license could be suspended, restricting your ability to work and feed your family.
Every driver should take Traffic Violations seriously. If you're charged with a traffic crime, it's time to protect yourself and your family with a trusted criminal defense lawyer in Bluffton, SC. Cobb Dill Hammett, LLC is ready to provide the legal guidance and advice you need to beat your traffic charges. We'll research the merits of your case, explain what charges you're facing, discuss your defense options, and strategize an effective defense on your behalf.
There are dozens and dozens of traffic laws in Bluffton, all of which affect drivers in some way. Our Bluffton defense attorneys fight a full range of violations, including but not limited to the following:
As seasoned traffic violation lawyers, we know how frustrating it can be to get charged with a Traffic Violation. While some traffic charges can be minor, others are severe and can affect your life for years to come. Don't leave your fate up to chance call CDH Law Firm today for the highest-quality Traffic Violation representation in Bluffton.
At Cobb Dill Hammett, LLC, we understand that children are still growing and learning about the world around them. As such, they may make mistakes that get them into trouble with the law. Children and teens who are arrested in Bluffton can face much different futures than other children their age. Some face intensive probation, while others are made to spend time in jail.
This happens most often when a child's parents fail to retain legal counsel for their son or daughter. Cases referred to the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice often move quicker than adult cases, so finding a good lawyer is of utmost importance. With that said, a compassionate criminal defense attorney in Bluffton, SC, can educate you and your child about their alleged charges. To help prevent your child from going to a detention center, we will devise a strategy to achieve favorable results in their case.
Unlike adults, juveniles don't have a constitutional right to a bond hearing. Instead, once your child is taken into custody a Detention Hearing is conducted within 48 hours. This hearing is similar to a combination of a Bond Hearing and a Preliminary Hearing. Unfortunately, there is little time to prepare for these hearings, which is why you must move quickly and call CDH law firm as soon as possible.
Our team gathers police reports, petitions, interviews your child at the DJJ, speaks with you about the case and talks to the prosecutor to discover if they have plans for detention. In most cases, we strive to avoid detention and seek alternatives like divisionary programs or treatment facilities. This strategy better addresses your child's issues and keeps them out of the juvenile legal system in Bluffton. If your child is charged with a crime, and South Carolina decides to prosecute, your child will appear before a family court judge, who will find them delinquent or not delinquent. There are no juries in juvenile cases in South Carolina, which is why it's crucial to have a lawyer present to defend your child if they go in front of a judge.
Common penalties for juveniles charged with crimes in Bluffton include:
Whether you are facing a DUI charge or a serious traffic violation, CDH Law Firm is here to fight for your rights so you can continue living life. The future might seem bleak, but our criminal defense lawyers in Bluffton, SC, have the tools, experience, and strategy to win your case, as we have with so many others. Don't lose hope call our office today and maintain your freedom tomorrow.
For two years a surprising front-runner has emerged in the luxury real estate market: Buyers still want to be on the water but are choosing to settle along the rivers of South Carolina’s Lowcountry and the small inland communities built around them, a Realtor.com/Wall Street Journal ranking has found.Franklin Newell, an agent at the Broadhurst Group, a real es...
For two years a surprising front-runner has emerged in the luxury real estate market: Buyers still want to be on the water but are choosing to settle along the rivers of South Carolina’s Lowcountry and the small inland communities built around them, a Realtor.com/Wall Street Journal ranking has found.
Franklin Newell, an agent at the Broadhurst Group, a real estate firm on Hilton Head Island, S.C., said a combination of “great weather, low taxes and a beautiful natural setting” contributed to the area’s growth.
While Hilton Head and Charleston have long been sought-after South Carolina locales, smaller inland river towns like Bluffton and Beaufort are seeing a surge in homeownership, even surpassing cities like Tampa, Fla., and Nashville in popularity. With their sense of community and less-hectic lifestyle, these towns are attracting young families.
Palmetto Bluff, a luxury resort community in Bluffton, once was largely filled with retirees and second-home owners who found their way to the area through the five-star resort hotel on the property, the Montage Palmetto Bluff. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic began in 2020, families with young children were changing the demographics of Palmetto Bluff, but the pandemic accelerated that trend.
Mike Broadhurst of the Broadhurst Group attributed this change to work-from-home flexibility and people leaving high-tax states. (South Carolina ranks toward the middle of the 50 states in overall taxes.) He said that before the pandemic, he and Mr. Newell “had never sold a home to someone from California, and we’ve now sold half a dozen.”
Bryan Byrne, broker-in-charge for Palmetto Bluff Real Estate, said the community had always done well with residents from traditional cold weather locations like Detroit and Cleveland, as well as affluent northeast areas. “The surprise has been Florida,” he said, estimating 15 to 20 sales to families from Florida in the last two years.
Mr. Byrne said he also sees an exodus from high-tax states like California and New York to the area, including at Palmetto Bluff, where residents enjoy an array of amenities as part of their club experience. (The top tax bracket on income for South Carolina residents is 6.5 percent, while property taxes in Beaufort county, where Bluffton is located, average 0.45 percent.)
Palmetto Bluff has golf, of course, but it also features a conservancy on site with walking trails and hunting. The May River borders the property, and a newly constructed marina allows residents to store their boats and get out on the water, for fishing or water skiing.
Jeff and Michelle Solomon were visiting the resort for 10 years before they finally bought a vacation home in 2018. They were there at the onset of the pandemic and have never left. “We were talking to our friends and family in Michigan and up north in lockdown, and it was cold and nasty,” Michelle Solomon said. “They were stuck in their houses and here we are living our best life.”
The variety of outdoor activities available year-round, and the opportunity to be part of a community with young children — something their life in Michigan had lacked — made it easy for the Solomons to stay.
“We just flourished,” Ms. Solomon said. “In Michigan, we didn’t live in a neighborhood, and this was the first time that kids were knocking on our door at all hours of the day and night. Our daughter was outside from morning till night. No TV, no electronics. It was like this old-fashioned lifestyle.”
At Berkeley Hall, 25 minutes north by car, a similar narrative is developing. The community is situated on the Okatee River and, like Palmetto Bluff, is gated. Though more golf-centric, its club offers a number of other outdoor pursuits as well, like boating and fishing.
Alex Madeiros, director of sales and marketing for Berkeley Hall, said that, while there was a lot of interest in homes and relocation, “I think it’s the amenities and lifestyle that people are becoming most interested in.”
Those offerings were a factor in Lindsey and Chris DeSalvo’s decision to relocate from Western New York. They purchased land at Berkeley Hall and are waiting for their home to be built.
With one child in college and another finishing high school, the couple was looking for a location with an affordable cost of living and quality health care, according to Lindsey DeSalvo, a pharmacist. What appealed to them about the community was its proximity to Old Town Bluffton with its mix of entertainment and retail.
In both developments, club life is meant to offer residents a pace and ease of lifestyle, not to mention an instant community. All of this comes with a price tag, though. In addition to the cost of homes, which are averaging $697 per square foot at Palmetto Bluff, club membership fees are an added and required expense ($40,000 initially, then annual dues of $12,000; sporting, boating, club and golf fees are separate and optional). The membership fees, however, cover the amenities that many residents look for at luxury communities, like pools and spa facilities, as well as 24-hour security services.
At Berkeley Hall, which has an average home price of $463 per square foot, each homeowner is also a club member. At Palmetto Bluff, however, there is a menu of options that come with club membership. Homeowners can choose from additional golf, boating or shooting club memberships and may opt in for all, none or some.
Josh Bischoff, who works in financial services, and has lived in Palmetto Bluff since May 2019 but had a vacation home there since 2014, said the largest piece of the puzzle when he and his family made the move from New Jersey was finding a school for his children. He and his wife, Megan, send their children to school in Savannah, Ga., about 35 minutes away, to a school comparable to the one they had attended in New Jersey. He said he had seen firsthand the changing demographics of Palmetto Bluff from retirees to families like his, and they’ve benefited from a variety of programming the club offers, including summer camps.
Like other homeowners in both communities, he feels a sense of security and even nostalgia. “It kind of gives the kids the same experience a lot of us had growing up,” he said, “where you had a little more freedom and go hang out with your friends and be home for dinner, and where your parents kind of felt like every parent looks out for every kid.”
Mr. Bischoff said that, Covid aside, the hustle and bustle of living in the northeast increasingly made his family’s lifestyle more difficult. “The density of the place just kind of grinds on you after a while,” he said, and on each visit to the Lowcountry, “it became harder and harder to leave.”
He pointed out some trade-offs, though. “It’s a phenomenal community and phenomenal people, but there isn’t a decent Chinese restaurant in the area,” he joked. “But I’ll give up decent Chinese food for a much nicer climate, a real community to live in and the amenities Palmetto Bluff has.”
Have you ever had nitrogen ice cream?Chill-N Nitrogen Ice Cream is set to open its first South Carolina location later t...
Have you ever had nitrogen ice cream?
Chill-N Nitrogen Ice Cream is set to open its first South Carolina location later this year in Bluffton.
The made-to-order nitrogen ice cream shop will be opening its new establishment at 65 Towne Drive, Unit 65 in Belfair Towne Village II in Bluffton.
The current estimated opening date will be this fall.
The new locale will be owned and operated by Derek Cohen, the new franchisee and retiring Marine Corps veteran, who recently purchased the rights to develop new Chill-N locations in the Hilton Head area and Savannah, Georgia markets, according to recent release by Chill-N.
Cohen’s immediate plans are to open one location in each market for a total of two.
“As I was looking for an ice cream brand that could service the more than two million visitors that the Hilton Head area receives each year, I was immediately blown away by Chill-N and its level of technology. I believe that Chill-N is leading the way in which all ice cream shops will eventually operate, and I couldn’t be more excited to be part of a brand that is pioneering the future of one our country’s most beloved sweet treats,” said Cohen.
“I’m looking forward to introducing Chill-N to the Bluffton community and growing my portfolio even further in the years to come.”
The new Bluffton Chill-N location will feature the brand’s newest prototype, which includes a new nitrogen system that has allowed the brand to reduce its investment to open a store by 20%, increased production efficiency, and enhanced the customer experience, according to the release.
Cohen will reportedly hire approximately 15 new employees for his first Chill-N shop in Bluffton and has plans to open a second shop in Savannah in the future.
How does Chill-N Nitrogen Ice Cream work?
Customers will have the ability to choose a portion size, ice cream base and then a flavor. Ice cream bases include milk, yogurt, or alternative milk option such as coconut, almond or oat.
Next, guests may choose to add on premium toppings including candies, cookies, cereal, fresh fruit, sauces, nuts, and Cuban coffee.
Each scoop of ice cream is hand-crafted to order, and flash frozen instantly using liquid nitrogen at -320° Fahrenheit.
The new Bluffton Chill-N locale will be open within the next several months and will operate Monday through Sunday.
The most recent installment in The Post and Courier’s “Boom and Balance” series, on Bluffton’s discolored tap water, underscores two important points: It’s vital for local governments, including utilities, to make the necessary infrastructure investments to stay ahead of their population growth and ensure that existing residents don’t see their quality of life erode when new ones move in. And running water systems is a hard job.As reporter Michael Cuglietta makes clear, ...
The most recent installment in The Post and Courier’s “Boom and Balance” series, on Bluffton’s discolored tap water, underscores two important points: It’s vital for local governments, including utilities, to make the necessary infrastructure investments to stay ahead of their population growth and ensure that existing residents don’t see their quality of life erode when new ones move in. And running water systems is a hard job.
As reporter Michael Cuglietta makes clear, the Beaufort-Jasper Water & Sewer Authority is struggling with providing clear, appealing drinking water to the rapidly growing number of customers in its service area. Too often, full bathtubs look like muddy rivers, and glasses of tap water resemble whiskey. And while utility officials assure customers this yellow or yellow-brown water is safe to drink, people are understandably not happy about it. Even pricey water filters don’t help for very long. As one woman told Mr. Cuglietta: “Honestly, I wish we could move.”
The utility has 65,000 connections and an annual growth rate of about 5%, and its chief of plant operations admitted it has failed to stay ahead of the water demand. And while it has identified $52 million to double the treatment capacity of its Purrysburg Water Treatment Plant from 15 million to 30 million gallons per day, that project is still at least two years from completion. And even when completed, the authority’s total treatment capacity still will be 1 million gallons a day less than its peak demand day last year — an indication that it already should be working on plans for additional capacity.
It’s the oscillating demand that can cause the problem. During winter months, the utility needs only about 20 million gallons per day to meet demand, but that can rise to almost 35 million in the summer. Further spikes in demand during a day add to the challenge. A recent wave of discolored water apparently stemmed from fire hydrant testing, which released manganese and iron that had accumulated in the pipes. While the water pressure hasn’t dropped enough to demand boil-water advisories, that more hazardous scenario could occur if the utility doesn’t do more to plan for growth.
It should be noted that the Beaufort-Jasper Water & Sewer Authority is a relatively big player among South Carolina’s water providers, and therefore should have the financial means and experienced personnel to handle these challenges. Many other communities are served by smaller, less capable systems. The newspaper’s Uncovered series highlighted particular problems in the Clarendon County town of Summerton, where pumps broke down, safety equipment was removed, water tanks had sludge accumulate inside and weed killer and ant poison were scattered near wells — all potentially more concerning that the aesthetic issues Bluffton residents face when they turn on their taps.
About 1 of every 6 homes in the state relies on these smaller systems, which are far more likely to violate state or federal regulations designed to ensure safe drinking water. The Department of Health and Environmental Control has recommended consolidating these smaller water systems or folding them into nearby, regional systems, and we urge state and local officials to do what they can to make that happen. While South Carolina recently received both COVID relief and infrastructure funds to improve water service, the state should not invest in propping up tiny systems that are more likely to experience problems again once the benefit of any recent upgrade fades. State lawmakers should see to it that DHEC has all the carrots and sticks it needs to require consolidations of small systems.
As we’ve noted, contaminated water ultimately impacts even those who don’t drink it, through others’ health problems, higher taxes for Medicare, Medicaid and health insurance for state and local government employees and lost economic opportunity. Running a water system — like running an electrical utility — is hard work, requiring constant vigilance to meet evolving regulations, address fluctuating demand and ensure the safety and satisfaction of every customer. Our state’s regulatory approach should evolve to recognize those high stakes.
Old Town, a down-home upscale neighborhood in the South Carolina river town of Bluffton, is defined by i...
Old Town, a down-home upscale neighborhood in the South Carolina river town of Bluffton, is defined by its Southern hospitality and luxurious lifestyle.
“It’s the heartbeat of Beaufort County and what draws many people to the area,” said Dave Jarman, a broker with Corcoran HM Properties. “‘Charming’ is the first word that comes to mind. ‘Welcoming’ is a close second.”
He added that Old Town is so darn friendly that “it’s common for strangers to say ‘hello’ or ‘how are ya’ll doing?’ as they pass by.”
The atmosphere, according to Mary Vaux Bell, an agent with Daniel Ravenel Sotheby’s International Realty, is “relaxed, chic and very down to earth.”
Old Town, which may be accessed via car or boat, is bounded by Bridge Street and the May River waterway on the south, Burnt Church Road on the east, May River Road on the north and Verdier Cove Road on the west.
Noting that properties in Old Town don’t come on the market very often, Ms. Vaux Bell said that riverfront or marsh-front single-family houses, which typically are on 0.75 of an acre to 2 acres, generally run $1.5 million to $2.5 million.
The inner streets of the community, whose houses are set on a quarter to a half acre, are also desirable places to live, she said, adding that they typically sell for around $1 million.
The houses in Old Town, which is in a National Register Historic District and a Preserve America Community, were originally built and used as summer residences and typically feature significant porch space as well as interior space. They date from the 1800s to the present, and generally are on lots starting at one-tenth of an acre.
The architectural styles and materials, which range from clapboard siding and brick to tabby, vary.
“While there are new homes, many of the older ones have been updated or restored for a relaxed and understated yet posh coastal-cottage aesthetic,” Ms. Vaux Bell said. “The homes in the inner streets are mostly new but custom designed to blend in with the Spanish moss, mature oaks and oyster-shell driveways.”
What Makes It Unique
Old Town’s location—Bluffton is only 30 minutes from Hilton Head Island and a couple of hours from Charleston, Jacksonville, Atlanta and Charlotte—makes it a premier place to live, Ms. Vaux Bell said.
She noted that in addition to the historic structures and welcoming atmosphere, Old Town basks in Bluffton’s numerous accolades: It made Travel + Leisure’s 2022 list of “8 Charming Small Towns in SC” and Southern Living’s 2019 list of “The South’s Best Small Towns.”
Mr. Jarman added that Old Town’s “true appreciation for historic elements and restrictions in place on commercial properties” makes it “a picturesque section of Bluffton.”
Its walkability, its boutiques and numerous social events, festivals and markets, he said, are other attractions.
Old Town sets the scene for many of the town’s activities and is a dining and shopping destination.
There are several restaurants in the community. They include The Bluffton Room, which serves classic American cuisine; the coffee shop Corner Perk Brunch Cafe & Coffee Roasters; FARM Bluffton, whose menu is new-American cuisine; The Pearl Kitchen & Bar, which offers coastal cuisine; Nectar Farm Kitchen, which prepares dishes with ingredients from the Lowcountry and the South; and Calhoun Street Tavern, which specializes in comfort food.
Old Town Dispensary, a tavern with pub grub, “is where residents head for some live music and refreshing drink,” Mr. Jarman said.
Palmetto Bluff, a gated community across the May River from Old Town that has the highest-priced properties in the area, includes a Montage Resort and several fine-dining establishments.
Other amenities at Palmetto Bluff include an award-winning golf course, a marina that offers water excursions, several pools, a spa and wellness center, a shooting club and a working farm with educational programs and events for children.
The Bluffton Oyster Co., which has been providing fresh-harvested seafood to the community since 1899, is the last hand-shucking house in the state. In addition to the market, it has an eat-in restaurant.
Heyward House, a historic museum built in 1841, doubles as the town’s official welcome center, offering tours.
In addition to a weekly farmer’s market filled with local vendors, Bluffton hosts more than 30 festivals and events annually.
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Mr. Jarman noted that in addition to water activities, Old Town is “an incredible place to walk. Shops and restaurants are all a short distance from your home.”
Residents have a choice of private schools. May River Montessori is a high school in the community.
In Bluffton and Hilton Head, there are several more schools. Christian Academy is a coed college preparatory Christian school for students in kindergarten through 12th grade; the coed Cross Schools enrolls students from 12 months through 12th grade; and St. Gregory the Great Catholic School is a coed middle school.
Who Lives There
The community, which traditionally attracted a slightly older crowd, has seen an influx of younger residents in recent years, Ms. Vaux Bell said, adding that there are celebrities and “a ton of major execs and sports players.”
The Montage resort is a celebrity magnet. Chris Pratt and his wife, Katherine Schwarzenegger, have spent time there, and Hailey and Justin Bieber held their wedding there, according to published reports. NASCAR driver Gus Dean and science writer Kitty Ferguson live in Bluffton, according to published reports.
Noting that prices in the Town of Bluffton have risen by 44.6% since 2018 and 25.4% since 2021, Ms. Vaux Bell said that the town’s market “has not slowed down. The inventory has waned a bit, but the demand is very much present.”
Even during the pandemic, the market flourished, she said, with “an influx of residents, mostly from the North, many of whom bought properties sight unseen.”
As far as Old Town Bluffton, “regardless of the market, there will always be a demand for these properties,” she said.
Mr. Jarman was also optimistic about the Bluffton and Old Town markets. Statistics for the town show that average cumulative days on market for houses that sold for over $1 million have dropped from 259 to 33 from 2018 to the end of 2022—a “shocking” decrease, he said.
He added that the pandemic has “forever changed” the market for the entire state as “the typical needs of buyers shifted. Cost of living is increasing in South Carolina, but it is still relatively low in comparison to other luxury neighborhoods on the coast.”
If you haven’t caught Bernard Bennett’s food truck, ?kàn, in Savannah or Bluffton, South Carolina, then you may not be familiar with the chef, but when he was named a 2023 James Beard Emerging Chef semifinalist, his name and his West African cuisine went to the top of many diners’ “...
If you haven’t caught Bernard Bennett’s food truck, ?kàn, in Savannah or Bluffton, South Carolina, then you may not be familiar with the chef, but when he was named a 2023 James Beard Emerging Chef semifinalist, his name and his West African cuisine went to the top of many diners’ “must-try” lists. Now, in April, Bennett will open his first restaurant with the same name as the truck, ?kàn, in Bluffton’s mixed-use development the Bridge Collective (71 Calhoun Street).
?kàn will focus on the foods and flavors that came to the Lowcountry through enslaved Africans forced into the fields and kitchens along the South Carolina coast. “I would describe the food at ?kàn as a journey,” says Bennett, “I think that what is known as African American cuisine, like the stereotypical fried chicken, grits, and collard greens, is not representative of us. It’s in our history, but our history is much more than that. The expressions on my dishes go back to West Africa, where many enslaved people came from, and take a trip through the Caribbean and onto America.”
A sample menu from ?kàn begins with starters like corn pudding with blue crab, okra roasted in harissa, and pumpkin seed dip with benne seed crackers. The bread selections contain Trinidadian bara with chutney, coco bread, roti, and cornbread with seasonal butter. There’s an entire section dedicated to rice, a crop that many enslaved Africans were forced to cultivate when they came to the Lowcountry; there’s jollof rice, coconut rice, Haitian djon djon rice, Sea Island peas and rice, and Carolina Gold rice. Entrees range from curried oxtails to peanut stew to duck and oyster gumbo.
Bennett says the bar will focus on classic cocktails with an emphasis on rum, which comes from the Caribbean influences on his menu. He wants the ?kàn experience to be upscale but approachable — no stuffy white tablecloths here.
There’s not another establishment like ?kàn in the Lowcountry (though there is a West African restaurant planned for Charleston in the spring), so Bennett hopes that visitors will seek him out in Bluffton. With the multitude of tourists from nearby Savannah, Hilton Head, and Charleston, he thinks it has the potential to become a destination restaurant.
“?kàn means ‘heart and soul’ in the Yoruba language, one of the first languages in West Africa,” says Bennett, “And being the heart and soul, I want to tell people that everything we do and all the food we present has love in it. We’re not doing anything to stir up any drama. I want to celebrate the heart and soul of the underrepresented people and their cuisines. I want West African and Caribbean cuisine to be recognized just as much as French and Italian. That’s my goal.”