Southern Charm’s Craig Conover & Austen Kroll Set to Open New Bar in Charleston as Leva Reacts, Plus Austen Claps Back at Claim of Being a Bad Business Partner

by Lindsay Cronin Comments
Southern Charm's Craig Conover & Austen Kroll Set to Open New Bar in Charleston as Leva Reacts, Plus Austen Claps Back at Claim of Being a Bad Business Partner

Credit: Stephanie Diani/Bravo

Southern Charm cast members Craig Conover and Austen Kroll are opening a “neighborhood tavern” in Charleston, South Carolina.

After teaming up on their podcast, Pillows and Beer, and investing in New York City’s Carriage House restaurant, Craig, 34, and Austen, 36, have partnered with Uptown Hospitality Group (UHG) to bring By the Way (BTW) to their hometown’s popular King Street, where UHG also runs its flagship Uptown Social location.

“Charleston has grown so much in the last few years and brought in a lot of travelers, so we wanted to create a space where locals and travelers could hang out together and enjoy the neighborhood,” Craig told Entertainment Tonight of their new venue on January 19.

“It’s going to be a really intimate space,” he continued. “We put a lot of thought into the design to try and make it as warm and inviting as possible. We’re leaning into the local, upscale, tavern vibes, so the menu is going to have elevated bar fare and approachable cocktails.”

Following years working together in other genres, Austen said he always hoped he and Craig would “partner on a project” in the food space.

“I just knew it had to be the right concept and the right time. When people think of the Charleston social scene, the Uptown Hospitality Group is a huge part of that. I’ve gotten countless messages in the past from friends, family, and everyone in between asking where to go out in Charleston, and I’ve always said you can’t go wrong with [UHG’s spots]. We’re so thrilled to be able to work together to create a new cornerstone in the Charleston community,” Austen stated.

And the owner of UHG, Keith Benjamin, is just as thrilled about the new bar.

“Craig and Austen have been buddies of ours since moving here in 2018,” he said. “They have always been loyal supporters of our brands, whether patronizing our establishments or pushing them on their social channels. The symbiotic nature of their reach connecting with our demographic makes a whole lot of sense for both parties. We look forward to launching By the Way with these guys formally in our corner!”

According to Austen, he believes BTW will be more than a place to drink. Instead, he hopes it will be an experience and plans to enlist “talented musicians” to perform there.

“What I envision is a place where you come for a drink before dinner, let’s say, lose track of time and before you know it, hours have passed and all of a sudden, you’re surrounded by all your friends,” Austen explained. “[It’s] going to be a place you can come and sit for a while.”

Following the announcement of Craig and Austen’s new place, Austen reacted to backlash on Instagram from a fan who suspects he will not make a good business partner.

“I wish Craig would partner with someone other than Austen. Or maybe he can start growing emotionally. I couldn’t imagine being in business with someone who lies all the time,” the person stated.

“Maybe him and Gandhi will go into business together!” Austen replied. “Until then, see ya at the bar!”

Southern Charm Austen Kroll Reacts to Backlash Over Restaurant With Craig

Also on Instagram, Leva Bonaparte, 44, who owns several bars in the area, including her famous nightclub, Republic, responded to a social media user who asked for her thoughts and wondered if she saw Craig and Austen’s upcoming venue as “competition.”

“So what are [Leva Bonaparte’s] thoughts????” they asked.

“Oh my goodness! We are very proud of our guys! None of us think that way! The more the merrier!” she confirmed.

Southern Charm Leva Bonaparte Reacts to Austen and Craig Opening Charleston Restaurant

Southern Charm is currently on hiatus.