The City Magazine Since 1975

Toast of the Town

Toast of the Town
Local flavor-lovers are eating up Carolina Coaster Company’s unique wares

Chef Bob Carter of Rutledge Cab Co. and Carter’s Kitchen has ventured into the Charleston Farmers Market to find these goods. Steve Kish, owner of 82 Queen and Lowcountry Bistro, enjoyed a sample at the City Market, and Randall Goldman of Patrick Properties Hospitality Group indulges food editors with them. What are these desirable treats? The nostalgic collectibles that Carolina Coaster Company has been dishing out since 2010.
Three years ago, spurred on by impending retirement, Cindy Ellsworth set out to craft high-end photo coasters celebrating Charleston’s most beloved landmarks, restaurants, and shops. She devised a method of adhering printed photographs to tumbled marble, hand-blending the paper for an aged look. The coasters are finished with three coats of sealant and a cork backing.
Now, from her Bohicket Marina studio, Ellsworth cooks up coasters using some 250 scenes shot on her COOLPIX camera. A staff of retirees and side jobbers helps her handle the demand of stores like Indigo, Carolina Clay Gallery, and The Coastal Cupboard. “I had no idea they would become so popular,” says Ellsworth. Between a new website that allows clients to upload photos for custom orders and visions of expanding into other locales, this Seabrook Island start-up promises to deliver plenty more to the table.

Popularity Contest
Which of the company’s 250 coasters sell the fastest? Owner Cindy shares the scoop:

1. Poe‘s Tavern: “Tourists and locals alike love Poe’s. Some even buy this one because they are fans of Edgar Allan himself!”
2. Hominy Grill: “We’re helping spread the word that ‘Grits are good for you!’ Thanks [artist] David Boatwright and [owner] Robert Stehling for making our job easy.”
3. Magnolias restaurant: one of Ellsworth’s personal faves
4. “Welcome to Folly Beach” sign: one of nine in the Folly collection