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Caviar & Bananas owners show partnership works

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It has a funny name, but Caviar & Bananas owners Margaret and Kris Furniss say the new restaurant is anything but.

The restaurant, which has two locations and has enjoyed eight years in the Charleston market, will make its first foray into Greenville when a new location opens at One City Plaza on Aug. 8.

Margaret and Kris were not the first ones to use the Caviar & Bananas name for a restaurant.

Back in New York City, there was a small restaurant down the street from where the couple called home called Caviar & Bananas.

“We thought that was the worst name for a restaurant so we had to try it,” Margaret said. “It wasn’t very good at all.”

And, just three months after initially trying the restaurant, it was shuttered, lying dormant until later resurrected on the coast of South Carolina.

 

A life change

When they met and in the initial stages of their marriage, Kris was in finance and Margaret worked in brand creation and marketing after earning a master’s degree in communication design from The Pratt Institute in New York.

Margaret and Kris Furniss have operated Caviar & Bananas restaurant in Charleston for eight years. Now the couple is opening their first restaurant away from the coast in Greenville. (Photo provided)It was Kris that decided it was time to venture out into something new, so he went into food and beverage, but there were challenges.

“Kris always wanted to open a restaurant, but when he had restaurant hours and I had corporate hours, we realized it wasn’t conducive for a family,” Margaret said.

So, both had the idea of combining their skill sets and starting their own business. Kris would use his financial background and organization experience in food and beverage while Margaret brought her experience in brand marketing and design to the table … as it were.

“We really did figure we would be a good pair to do something like this,” Kris said.

They needed a name for the new restaurant.

“I remembered that restaurant down the street from our apartment in New York and I checked to see if they had trademarked their name and they hadn’t,” Margaret said.

So, there is how the restaurant known as Caviar & Bananas came into existence.

Now, the idea of husband and wife working together may seem like a strange concept to most, but for Kris and Margaret, they wouldn’t want it any other way.

“It doesn’t work for everyone, but it works for us,” Kris said.

One way it works is that Kris makes decisions regarding operations while Margaret handles all the branding, meaning the two aren’t making every decision together.

“At the end of the day, we both do what it best for the business,” Kris said.

 

Coming soon to Greenville

Before opening in Greenville, the couple is opening  their third location in Charleston and continuing work on opening a fifth restaurant located in Nashville, Tenn.

So, why locate their first restaurant outside the Lowcountry in Greenville?

“We just like Greenville better,” Margaret joked. “We really wanted to stay out of primary markets and our realtor told us we needed to look at Greenville.”

This is a rendering of the inside of Caviar & Bananas’ Greenville location which is slated to open Aug. 5 at One City Plaza in downtown. (Rendering provided)After finding the location at One City Plaza, the two decided to temporarily move to Greenville to experience the market and find out what the buzz was all about.

“Everyone is starting to catch on that Greenville is the place to go,” Margaret said. “We felt it was a good opportunity to learn the area and be involved in the area.”

The process has worked for them so much that they decided to model any future openings after this Upstate launch. They are aiming future openings for late summer to give them a chance to temporarily live in the market.

“We do plan to spend a lot of time here because we really do love Greenville,” Kris said.

It is no secret that the Upstate is home to a wide array of culinary selections, whether it is regional flare or national chains.

So, to bring a restaurant like Caviar & Bananas to Greenville adds to the already competitive market. But, Kris and Margaret don’t see it as a competitive market … in fact, the more the merrier if you ask them.

“We aren’t coming in to compete, but more to add to the quality of culinary offerings that are already here,” Margaret said.

And, they believe that Caviar & Bananas offers something different from other restaurants in the area.

“There is a lot of competition in Charleston and we pride ourselves on consistency,” Kris said. “There are a lot of offerings in Greenville, but where we differ is that we are all-in-one.

“This will be a great place to bring your kids, have a glass of wine … a little something for everyone.”

The Greenville location will feature a similar menu to the Charleston locations, but Kris and Margaret hope to evolve part of it to more local fare using local vendors. The restaurant will also offer made-to-order salads and sandwiches, a tea/espresso bar, various baked goods along with boutique wines and craft beers.

Caviar & Bananas in Greenville will also have a catering menu this fall for items that are available for pick-up or delivery and the store will also offer delivery of their everyday menu items.

Because of the number of food and beverage establishments in the region, Kris and Margaret recognize there is competition for good employees in the industry. They have already hired a general manager from Dallas who is currently training in Charleston as well as an executive chef who is from Charleston. The pastry chef is a Greenville native who has been working in Charleston and is returning home to work for Caviar & Bananas.

“I feel strong enough that we will have a good working environment,” Kris said. “We want an atmosphere where people enjoy working.”

The Greenville restaurant will have around 50 employees total from the front of the house to the kitchen.

“We have found in Charleston that staffing is an issue and I don’t think it will be different here,” Margaret said. “If people here have the right attitude it will be fine. You can’t teach personality though.”

 

What’s next?

While the couple oversees two restaurant openings this summer, they are planning their opening in Nashville in 2017.

But, does that mean the expansion of the Caviar & Bananas brand is over?

“We would like to keep growing and become a regional brand,” Margaret said.

When they were asked about a dream market, Aspen, Colo. or Telluride, Colo. came to mind, but in all seriousness while the expansion bug may be biting, it will have to wait.

“We, sometimes to a fault, are growth-minded people, but this is our baby,” Kris said. “We would rather take our time and do it right.”

 

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a new opening date.

 

Reach Matthew Clark at 864-720-1222.

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