Justin Croxall & Matt Tunstall, Stems & Skins
Although it’s tough to say, Charleston, SC is not all postcards and porch living. It’s a city that is fighting decaying infrastructure, gentrification, the pressure of tourists, and traffic, traffic, traffic as an average of 75 people move here a day. So it can be a beautiful place but a hard place to live, to work, and to build a business. And thus begins the story of Stems & Skins, a wine bar turned bar turned a hangout with great food and great beverages located in Park Circle in North Charleston. Owners Matt Tunstall and Justin Croxall have solid resumes -- Matt was the somm at Husk and Justin owned Bull Street Gourmet -- but when the two teamed up, they couldn’t make a downtown location work. Still, in the greatest stroke of luck by choosing Park Circle, they became a locals haunt of the highest proportions, something that was their goal from the beginning. I love this place, and I always see someone I know, and we share tinned seafood, natural wines, fresh cocktails, and plenty more far away from the sound of carriage rides and tour guides. On the day I visited, rain pelted the roof so loudly that you’ll wonder what that sound is around the 5 minute mark. Just hold on. It’s only fitting it’s part of this interview because flooded streets and old-fashioned gullywashers are part of living in Charleston too. Welcome to the locals spot, which despite being in Bon Appetit, is still a bit of a secret, at least for now. Learn how a neighborhood hot spot is born.