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The delayed plans for Secret Sandwich Society to add a location in downtown Charleston got the axe this weekend when Tickers & Timbers announced it was instead taking over the former Charleston School of Beauty Culture building on Capitol Street.

With an original location in Barboursville, Tickers & Timbers is a combination axe throwing, rage room and escape room facility also offering beer, food and additional entertainment.

So yes, that means Capitol Street will now have two axe-throwing bars within only two blocks of one another, with two escape rooms located just a few blocks apart. (Axes and Ales is a few doors down at 122 Capitol St. and Locked & Coded, the city’s first escape room, is just a hop, skip and a jump away at 222 Kanawha Blvd. E.)

Although I’m bummed Secret Sandwich won’t be moving in, the owners of Tickers & Timbers have a great backstory and I wish them well.

Couple Tonya Perry and Jerry Lawson have always thought the Tri-State area needed more family-friendly activities and it was the COVID-19 shutdown, of all things, that helped them build one.

Perry was a developmental therapist for children with special needs for about 20 years, but could no longer visit children in their homes during the pandemic. With Lawson’s previous job also affected by the shutdown, they realized they finally had the motivation — and time — to make their dream a reality. So they built out an empty shell facility themselves near Outback Steakhouse in Barboursville, which has been a big hit in Cabell and Putnam counties.

An opening date for the Charleston location has not yet been announced. For more information, visit


My ongoing push to spotlight “off the menu” dinner specials at area restaurants now shines on 1010 Bridge in South Hills, which blew us away this week with what may very well be the most (and best) Appalachian comfort dish ever.

Picture a gorgeous, glistening wedge of bacon-wrapped wagyu meatloaf sitting atop a mound of ramp-infused mashed potatoes and roasted baby carrots topped with pea butter and Espanole sauce.

We were so intrigued by its description that we ordered it for the table – as one of our appetizers, mind you – and darn near requested it again for dessert.

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I know 1010 already gets a lot of love from me, and practically everyone else, but you simply can’t let food this good go unpraised. And if they still don’t have this particular dish when you go, you can bet they’ll have others just as amazing.

They always do.

Other recent specials have included grilled lemon-herb rainbow trout with sweet potato hash, watercress and hazelnut pesto, and black eggplant; red wine-marinated chicken (Coq Au Vin) with smashed potatoes and spring veggies; and homemade baklava with vanilla ice cream, honey glaze, vanilla Chantilly and cinnamon dust.

It’s creativity like this that makes it so exciting to return to 1010 time and time again.


Finally, rumors have been swirling about the fate of Mi Cocina de Amor on Charleston’s West Side, which is embroiled in a now-public lease dispute that they addressed on Facebook last week. Both “sides” claim there’s much more to their side of the story. (The building’s owners have said they simply want to use it for another purpose since the restaurant’s lease is up.)

I won’t go into all of the drama here, but you can get a full update on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Regardless of where the chips fall here, Mi Cocina’s new owners say they hope it’s not the end for them.

“Rest assured, everyone at Mi Cocina de Amor loves what we do, so we will be around to serve Charleston delicious Mexican food for a while —hopefully another 10 years,” owner Caitlin Lizarraga wrote in the lengthy post.

“We have to move forward with the understanding that we may not be able to reach an agreement and stay in our current building. But never fear, because a building does not make a home, and thinking outside of four walls can produce amazing things, including solving a common criticism, speed of service. We have innovative ideas we originally planned for further down the road, but we may be implementing them sooner rather than later,” she added.

“So stay tuned and please be patient with us as we’re still sorting out some details. Sometimes, the best outcomes are the ones you didn’t anticipate. We are excited to be a part of the Charleston food scene and can’t wait to see what the next phase of this adventure brings!”

Steven Keith is a food writer and restaurant critic known as “The Food Guy.” He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or Follow @wvfoodguy on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

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