How to wear out The Food Section

Isn't it time for a wardrobe upgrade?

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When I was at Breck’s Steakhouse in North Charleston the other night, a customer complimented one of the servers on her scalloped white blouse. The server responded that it was probably the last time she’d get to wear it to work, since she’d found out she was supposed to wear a Breck’s t-shirt when she was on the floor.

In other words: One of the great signals of business seriousness, at least in this country, is a branded t-shirt. And starting today, The Food Section is proud to offer such shirts for sale, along with racerback tanks, pullover hoodies, and tees sized for kids.

I asked the owners of Breck’s, Troy and Wendi Dion, to show off two of the available shirts in part because I was sure they’d be sympathetic to this newsletter’s effort to turn a profit.

Troy Dion is one of the most transparent small business owners I know, with his work to educate customers about the costs of running a restaurant sometimes tilting into valuable food journalism. He frequently pops up in local Facebook groups, explaining how he handles staff schedules and determines a fair price for chicken wings.

Once the Dions in 2012 purchased Breck’s, 51 years after it opened as a proudly dubious saloon near the Charleston Navy Yard, Dion got into the habit of sliding letters into guest menus, outlining why he’d decided to confine smoking to the bar or charge more for the daily lunch special. (When a plate of country fried steak cost $4.75, diners tended to settle up by leaving a $5 bill on the table.)

But the real reason I wanted the Dions to serve as models is because Breck’s stands for what I’ve tried to achieve with The Food Section. While I don’t have any plans to produce spectacular blue cheese dressing, my goal is to publish a newsletter as inclusive, accessible, and fun as their restaurant.

Everyone is comfortable at Breck’s. The Dions make sure of it. While they both love many of the big-name places in downtown Charleston, they’re acutely aware of the treatment they receive when someone in their party asks for a Restaurant Week menu or shot of Fireball.

“This guy was like ‘We don’t serve Fireball,’ just really kind of down his nose,” Dion told me when I profiled his restaurant in 2016. “There are other ways to say, ‘We don’t carry that.’”

And it’s not just guests on the receiving end of respect. At Breck’s, employees are seen as people with lives, feelings, likes, and dislikes. “Carrabba’s, Olive Garden, I’ve worked in all of them,” line cook Larry Easterling said in 2016. “The camaraderie here is like nowhere else.”

So, maybe that server will get another chance to wear her pretty white blouse at work. Or maybe she’d like to try wearing a football jersey tee from The Food Section in heather gray.

Might you too be interested in a logo’ed jersey tee? Or a women’s slim fit shirt? Regardless of your apparel preferences, step right this way to place an order.

And while you’re contemplating if you’d look better in Kelly Green or Purple Rush, read on for a brief description of what you missed this week if you’re not a paying subscriber:

  • The 5th Street Group, owner of the Charlotte and Charleston restaurants formerly known as 5 Church, sued two former employees who allegedly posted anonymous accusations of workplace misconduct. We’ve got the lawsuit here.

  • Memphis International Airport is down to one terminal, but the redesigned space is home to local food and beer.

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  1. Avatar photoAlan Brown says

    I am so in on this. Just bought a hoodie. I love this kind of thing. Glad you did it. My best friend’s son and daughter in law are the force and lead performers for Grouplove a popular indie band. They say that most of their income comes from “stuff”.

  2. Avatar photoTroy Dion says

    So, here at Brecks, we’ve amended the dress code……we can wear “The Food Section” shirts as well!!

    If you come to Brecks with your The Food Section garb on and post a picture on the sociable media places, I’ll buy you an appetizer!

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