The Carmella's Story
Carmella's is the brainchild of Brian and Tiffany Solari, who named the restaurant after Brian's grandmother.
"Being an Italian-American, your whole life revolves around eating," Solari jokes. "My grandmother Carmella was the matriarch at all the family events. She was responsible for all the important items on the dinner table. Those were my happiest memories of my grandparents."
While Carmella's is a unique concept, it is firmly rooted in the Italian tradition. "Carmella's is an Italian-themed dessert bar. In Italy, all these places will have, along with the typical coffees and teas, wine on the back shelf, or beer and liquor," Solari explains. "But this is the next generation, you might say, where now I'm actually infusing the food products with liquors."
A native of Atlantic City, NJ, Solari found that the culture of Charleston, SC was a perfect fit for his dessert-bar vision. "It's a complementary business to what Charleston is known for; this is a culinary town, it thrives off tourism and food, and when I talk to other food and beverage people, they appreciate that I am not competing with them, I am complementing them. People can come here before they go out to dinner, after they go out to dinner, it's a casual, laid-back, fun place, yet still classy."
Solari's concept of a dessert bar might have stayed a dream, but for his long-time friend K. Warrick Blandford. Solari had served as Blandford's campaign manager during Blandford's run for US Congress in 2008, and the two had an effective and amicable working relationship.
"Our rapport and trust grew during the campaign, and he wanted to continue the momentum that we had from that, and continue into what we were preaching as Libertarians, which was entrepreneurship. We threw a lot of ideas around, and this one stuck."