By Barney Blakeney
Just mention the words “Chucktown Bar & Grill” and many people, exalting accolades to finish the statement, know just what you’re talking about. In the two short years since Cedric Smalls opened the West Ashley food, beverage and entertainment venue its reputation for good eats and first class entertainment has spread far and wide.
For nearly 30 years Smalls honed his skill as an entrepreneur and entertainment promoter. Barely beyond his teen years, Smalls worked for local legendary entertainment promoters and night club owners. “I’m Annette and James Smalls’ son,” he says proudly proclaiming the work ethic he learned from his parents who are natives of the Clubhouse community of Dorchester County.
He grew up in West Ashley’s Ashleyville community and learned from his parents that community service is a responsibility of a productive citizen. He previously served as the community’s neighborhood association president. Smalls cut his professional teeth working for and learning from entrepreneurs like L.J. Huger and Ernie Kinloch. And he learned the art of diversifying. Not yet 50 years old, Smalls has invested in various businesses such as trucking, construction, food and beverage and cosmetology. But his love is entertainment and promotions.
Growing up a stone’s throw from popular entertainment venues such as the iconic Gaylord’s Shack and the Owl’s Roost, though too young to enter, Smalls had a front row seat to night life restricted by the segregation of the day and he saw how Black people created engaging atmospheres within their surroundings. Chucktown is now, what those venues were then, he says.
The bar and grill’s floor plan is designed to accommodate small, intimate crowds so that entertainers can walk among the audience. It’s something he encourages the entertainers to do. It’s an interactive connection that appeals to the audience, performers and guest DJs such as DJ Ish, Belinda Parker, Tessa Adams, Stevie Byrd , DJ Rod and Reecy G. Among the performers he’s booked are comedian Shawn Jones and recently, Lacee whose performance was among the best yet, said Smalls who describes his entertainment line-up as ‘Southern Soul”. Mr. David will perform September 6.
In addition to entertainment for the mature and sexy, Chucktown has a full service kitchen that offers a variety of dishes ranging from appetizers to entrees. An outdoor patio accommodates Chucktown’s weekly free seafood that includes all you can eat Charleston blue crabs. The bar & grill opens daily at 4 p.m. It closes depending on the event. Located at 2467 Savannah Highway Unit 5E, Chucktown Bar & Grill is Smalls’ most demanding venture, he admits. Throwing his arms wide open smiling broadly he exhorts, “We’re here! I love serving people and this gives me an opportunity to meet people and do that.”