The City Magazine Since 1975

Closed for Business

Closed for Business
May 2010

Good spirits abound at Closed for Business (CFB), the friendly neighborhood bar recently opened at 453 King Street, where sister restaurant Raval once thrived. With their signature flair and creativity, proprietors Revolutionary Eating Ventures completely revamped the space and brought on chef Kevin Johnson—formerly of Anson—to craft the intriguing menu. The result is a jovial atmosphere, food that’s more than satisfying, and craft brews that are drawing a diverse crowd of regulars.

An American pub in flavor, CFB looks nothing like its predecessor. The once-dark décor was replaced with natural wood walls, tables, and chairs, while expansive front windows allow light to flood in. Bright red and chrome signs—visible even from the street—announce “CFB” and “453,” creating instant fun in an Alice in Wonderland kind of way. The bar area is frequently filled with drinkers and diners sampling from the dynamic list of craft-brewed beers, including daily flights and specials. Fine spirits and a small selection of wines are available too, but here, the starring role definitely goes to the suds.

Beyond the bar, massive illuminated letters mounted over the open kitchen window encourage patrons to “EAT” at a long community table or cozy, globe-lit booths amidst a collection of comic book prints. And though CFB may be serving bar food, the eats clearly don’t come secondary to the drinks. The carefully designed menu has something for everyone, except perhaps children, who aren’t invited into this “21 and over” setting after 8 p.m. Classic pub style meets local and regional ingredients with welcome success, and after sampling the majority of menu items on several occasions, almost everything we tried received an enthusiastic “aye.” 

Appetizer portions of crispy green beans were prepared tempura style and served with ranch dressing to consistent acclaim. Daily beer mussels steamed in Magners Irish Cider, the selection of the month, were delightful with tender toast and pints of SweetWater 420, an extra-pale ale made in Atlanta. 

As for sandwiches, the loaded CFB burger with two crisp, grilled, all-beef patties definitely rivals other city faves. We chose a side of twice-baked potatoes. Unlike any we’d had before, they were especially creamy with sour cream, melted cheddar, and scallion garnish. We also tried the pork slap sandwich, which paired fried pork and Benton’s ham on a challah bun sweetened with green-tomato chutney. A side of excellent oil- and vinegar-dressed slaw—crunchy with tiny diced pickles—was the perfect partner. 

Entrée plates proved delicious as well. The highly recommended duck pot pie was spot on with slow-cooked duck, roasted parsnips, leeks, and mushrooms in sublime gravy, crowned with pie crust and served in a cast-iron casserole. Fork-tender, pan-roasted Tamworth pork shoulder, topped with slender crispy onions and subtle mustard sauce, came with glazed rutabagas, parsnips, and braised collards. And finally, vegetarian orecchiette pasta was very special when tossed with local Mepkin Abbey mushrooms and sautéed greens. It was enhanced, rather than drowned, by a pleasantly light three-cheese sauce and finished with gratin.

Two desserts were on the evening’s menu: fried pocket pie and butterscotch pudding. We tried both, competing for spoonfuls of the crisp house-fried apple pie filled with chunks of spiced fruit in a sugared pastry crust and served with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. We were told that the addictive butterscotch pudding, made with real butter and Scotch and served with a Heath toffee crunch shortbread cookie, was actually the last pudding ever to be served from the CFB kitchen, having lost its place to the fruit pie. Big mistake, chef—please rethink this one. We were also disappointed to learn there was no coffee served. 

Yet small matters like these hardly prevent this new addition from doing a grand job of reinventing the traditional neighborhood pub. Servers who consistently pay attention to detail and know their product, plus local sourcing; creative cooking; and first-come, first-served table service (reservations aren’t accepted) make it the perfect place to grab a bite and a pint during this month’s whirlwind celebration of the arts. 

Closed for Business

453 King St., (843) 853-8466, 
Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m.-midnight 
Average sandwich: $7.50
Average entrée: $12