Perhaps the most versatile form of comfort food, the Southern handmade biscuit — simply buttered or stuffed to the gills with creamy pimento cheese, fried green tomatoes, and bacon jam — is a little bit like heaven and a lot like home. It’s the kind of breakast (or paired with a bloody, boozy brunch) item that forces people, as tired as they may be, out of bed and to the closest biscuit bakin’ restaurant they can find. Even if it takes them a while to get there.
“My wife and I were always frustrated — we had [at the time] a six-month-old and always wanted to get out of the house for breakfast or brunch but never got there in time for it,” says chef and Vicious Biscuit co-owner Michael Greeley. “We wanted a place where we could go at 10:30 or 11 a.m. and get a biscuit.”
With no place fitting the bill, and not able to commit to a brick and mortar at the time, in the summer of 2017 the Greeleys started Vicious Biscuit, a catering company specializing in, well, vicious biscuits.
Vicious as in, “gargantuan” says Greeley.
After reading about the Greeleys in the Post & Courier, two other locals seeking success in the biscuit biz, Josh Lambert and George McLaughlin Sr. (a prolific area restaurateur), knew they had to reach out. Whether it was kismet, coincidence, or an act of the Southern culinary gods, around the same time the Greeleys were hawking their hot and huge biscuits, Lambert and McLaughlin had acquired the old Boulevard Diner space on Coleman, hoping to turn out “Banging Biscuits” to the masses.
“We were actually looking for a food truck at the time,” says Greeley. Before they could commit to the mobile life, Lambert messaged Michael on Facebook. “He had come up with a very similar concept, when I saw this article I thought ‘I like what this guy has going on, it’s edgy,'” says Lambert. “We got with him in the kitchen the next day — it was right on point with what we were trying to do.”
Expanding on Greeley’s catering menu, the team tried “eight or nine” iterations of dough before landing on the perfect recipe, “dialing in the texture, density, and moisture” with the help of their wives, local purveyors, and even a Michelin star chef. “I was really leaning on the size, [the original] biscuits were massive, the size of your head,” says Greeley. So they brought the biscuit down to more manageable dimensions, creating 10 unique biscuits, ranging from the eclectic Sea Biscuit, a buttermilk biscuit with fried shrimp, yum yum slaw, and Thai chili sauce, to the tongue taming Flame Thrower, a cheddar and jalapeno buttermilk biscuit with spicy fried chicken, white cheddar, spicy remoulade, thick-cut bacon, and house-made ‘cowboy candy.’
Using South Carolina Products
Using South Carolina products was a matter of import for both Lambert and Greeley, and they say they’ll be sourcing eggs and poultry from Storey Farms on Johns Island — “we’ll be making our sausage in-house,” notes Greeley — coffee from Bootlegger Coffee in Mt. Pleasant, grits from Palmetto Farms in Galivants Ferry, and tea from Charleston Tea Plantation, in addition to rotating, seasonal local brews. They’ll also have fresh-pressed juices and a full bar, with craft cocktails including the delectable-sounding Southern Sunrise, made with Kentucky bourbon, fresh squeezed orange juice, house-made basil and local honey infused simple syrup, garnished with an orange slice. And, while not a health food joint by any stretch of the imagination, there will be the requisite ‘healthyish’ breakfast items like a yogurt bowl, oatmeal, and a strawberry salad.
Don’t expect a deluge of overwhelming options, though — the paradox of choice will not corrupt you here.
“Some menus are so complicated,” says Lambert. “Our menu cross-pollinates — we’re just taking flavors and manipulating them.” For instance, their Bird and Belgian, a take on chicken and waffles, uses their sweet potato biscuit dough for the Belgian waffle. Lambert says when they held taste tests earlier this year, one critique was that they didn’t have “any spinach on the menu.” With spinach not adorning any of the savory biscuits (by the looks of their insane Instagram posts, the green stuff would just get in the way), Lambert says it wouldn’t make since to stock it. Plus, “we’re not a spinach restaurant,” says Greeley.
With almost 20 years in the food and bev industry, Greeley has worked every position in the restaurant from GM to back of house, and is excited that with Vicious Biscuit’s daytime hours, he won’t have to “set up a cot in the back and never see my family.” Although he doesn’t have any formal culinary training, Greeley says he’s cooked his whole life. “I’ve always been around it, I’ve always loved food.” That love will come through every week with brunch specials, which Lambert says will run the gamut from extra dough being turned into cinnamon biscuits or day-old biscuits being turned into bread pudding, “whatever Michael feels like.”
For Lambert, owning his own restaurant was always the dream. Before moving to Charleston and becoming a “serial entrepreneur,” Lambert was a traveling chef, moving from Colorado to Michigan, Connecticut, upstate New York, and finishing up that phase of his life at the Waldorf Astoria in Naples, Fla.
Lambert and Greeley agree that Vicious Biscuit in Mt. Pleasant is only the beginning — they’ve already signed on to build a Vicious Biscuit in Summerville’s new Nexton development, and Lambert says they’re looking to open up five more in the area within the next 36-60 months. “A lofty goal is to grow the brand, start a restaurant group,” says Lambert. For now, keep refreshing Vicious Biscuit’s Facebook page for their official opening, which Lambert notes will be low key, and definitely in time for Christmas. With 80+ seats inside and 25+ seats outside, a promise of four minute ticket times, and perhaps the greatest boon, a repaved parking lot with more than 50 spaces, you shouldn’t have to wait long for a that buttermilk biscuit. Even if you can’t get out of bed until noon.
Vicious Biscuit plans to open mid-December, with service Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. They’ll serve breakfast daily from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m Mon.-Fri. and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sat. & Sun.
Read the article at Charleston City Paper.