A growing foodie's paradise, South Charleston, West Virginia, may now boast the highest concentration of international restaurants in the Mountain State, according to some estimates.
The city of 12,000 now boasts 60 restaurants, including nine Asian, five Italian, four Mexican, ten American, and four Mediterranian eateries, as well as four dessert shops and 36 chain and fast-food eateries.
According to Vicki Vaughan, director of the South Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau, the notoriety seems to be attracting even more restaurants as well as foodies from throughout the Kanawha Valley and beyond.
"It just keeps growing," says Vaughan, who's been watching the energy build around the city's reputation as an attractive, accessible community on the Kanawha River.
"I think it's easy for people to feel comfortable here," she says. "It's easy to park. It's easy to walk to the antiques shops and to the museum and the theater and the mound."
The prehistoric mound around which the city's downtown business district was created has become an increasingly important tourist attraction and, in concert with the museum and interpretive center, is a focal point for Native American culture in West Virginia.
Michael Jarrouj, the owner of The Olive Tree Café, says free, easy parking, cleanliness, and a welcoming business plan were part of what led him to open his restaurant in the city, and it's why he's planning an expansion.
"South Charleston is open for business, I like to say," Jarrouj explained. The tax structure, which saw his business-and-occupational taxes incrementally adjusted, was an enormous incentive.
"The first year we were only required to pay 25 percent, the second, only 50, the third 75. They're looking two steps down the line. They're building a stronger business community, and the tax dollars are going to come afterward."
Jarrouj says he's now in the process of building a 10,000-square-foot banquet facility that accommodates 400. It's a step that he wouldn't likely have taken had the city been less accommodating.
For more information on South Charleston eateries, visit its restaurant page here.
Southern W.Va. to host top national travel writers in May
As many as 80 travel writers from across North America will explore southern West Virginia in May during a meeting of the Society of American Travel Writers. During its winter conference in Japan, the society voted to accept an itinerary proposed by Adventures on the Gorge, the West Virginia Tourism Office, and the Charleston, South Charleston, and Southern West Virginia convention and visitors bureaus. Read the full story here.