Swig & Swine’s Anthony DiBernardo shares some favorites and how his restaurant is faring through the pandemic
“Four years of self-quarantine on a submarine 400 feet below the surface prepares you for stuff like this,” says Swig & Swine owner Anthony DiBernardo, who leans on his Navy experience to buoy his perspective amidst the current global pandemic. “I’m trying to face these uncertain times with a positive attitude.” One thing the former submariner is sure of? “When food is the only thing to look forward to in a mundane daily routine, it better be good.”
With restaurants across the nation navigating uncharted waters, Swig & Swine has managed to stay afloat filling carry-out orders six days a week. On Mondays, while the smokers cool and the staff rests, DiBernardo seeks comfort at the grill in his West Ashley backyard. “I love the simplicity of cooking with just wood and fire,” says the restaurateur, who turns to favorites like roasted corn salad and herb-brushed steaks. He pulls pickled shrimp from the fridge and nods to the coconut pudding that his daughter, Mia, helped him make for dessert. And for a few moments, as he tends glowing embers in the sunshine with a cold beer in hand, DiBernardo has the sense that the world will be all right. “Spending time outdoors helps me feel grounded.”
Swig & Swine owner Anthony DiBernardo (above with his children, Mia and Asher) spends his days off outside by the grill, preparing favorites like herb-brushed steaks and grilled corn salad.
OPEN FOR BUSINESS
Dining Out: Like many local restaurants, Swig & Swine is offering delicious food to-go during the coronavirus shutdown. “We do a lot of catering, so it didn’t take much to flip to a carry-out-only model,” says DiBernardo, who feels lucky to still be able to serve guests barbecue plates, wing packages, and family-meal deals.
Feeling the Heat: In March, the restaurateur laid off 100 hourly employees and cut managers’ salaries by 25 percent. As the carry-out business steadies, he has rehired a dozen or so staff. “We take it day by day. When we first got into this, I told my team that if they could remain fluid, I would lead them through as best I could.”
Taking Care: Though business is down by 60 percent, Swig & Swine is making enough to cover salaries and food costs. DiBernardo has used any remaining earnings (at press time, about $15,000) to purchase grocery gift cards for his laid-off employees. Upon learning about this effort, charcoal company Kingsford reached out in early April to offer an additional $10,000 for the same purpose.
Locations, Locations, Locations: West Ashley [1217 Savannah Hwy., (843) 225-3805], Mount Pleasant [2379 Hwy. 41, (843) 416-7368], and Summerville [1990 Old Trolley Rd., (843) 974-8688]; swigandswinebbq.com