Bantam Chef draws a crowd

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By Johnathan Ryan

KERSHAW – The Bantam Chef, meaning either "feisty" or "small" chef, has been a downtown Kershaw institution for years.

When locals David and Sue Sullivan bought the restaurant from Frank and Dot Evans in 2006, they kept Evans' classics, such as hamburgers, hot dogs and barbecue, but added the all-you-can eat buffet and opened seven days a week.

"We've kept exactly what Frank had, but we have added," said Sue Sullivan.

The Saturday breakfast buffet offers large portions of the traditional Southern breakfast fare.

On a recent Friday night, the buffet theme was seafood, which included perch, boiled and fried shrimp, deviled crab and clam strips.

"And all the fixins'," said Sue Sullivan about vegetables, plus banana pudding for dessert.

The restaurant's biggest draw is its $4.99 lunch buffet, served daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

On a recent Tuesday, the dining room was full, some enjoying the buffet and others the large regular menu. The Sullivans pointed out a large table of regulars from Lancaster, and another table with local regulars who dutifully eat each of their daily meals there.

"We have people come from all over -Camden, Pageland and Lancaster," David Sullivan said.

Fried chicken, pork loin, corned beef brisket, cabbage, sauerkraut, fried squash, pinto beans, turnip greens, biscuits, cornbread and peach cobbler were on the buffet. Salad bar and a drink come with the lunch buffet.

Kershaw residents Stacy and Crystal Blackmon eat lunch together at the restaurant about three times each week.

Stacy Blackmon often gets the Fat Boy burger, a three-quarter-pound burger, but when he's really hungry, he gets the Kershaw Pounder burger, which is just that – a pound of beef.

"It's really good," he said. "We keep coming here because the food is so good."

Crystal Blackmon said the restaurant's chicken strips are the best in town.

By keeping the regular menu favorites and adding the popular buffets, business has more than doubled since the Sullivans bought the restaurant, Sue Sullivan said.

Menu items include a variety of sandwiches and entrees such as 8-ounce rib-eye steak, fried chicken, flounder and oysters. The restaurant also maintains a diary bar, serving milkshakes, sundaes and banana splits.

The hamburger steak plates and hot wings are the most popular items off the regular menu, said Sue Sullivan, who credits the restaurant's success to good food and service.

"If your food is good, you'll have customers," she said. "We have really good people working for us."

Waitresses, like Angel Wallace and Victoria Rollins, say they enjoy their many regulars.

"I love my people," Wallace said. "They tip well and treat me well. They take care of my family."

Some of the regulars leave saying, "I'll see you tomorrow."

The Sullivans say they are looking at expanding their restaurant with a new building that will have private meeting space.

The Bantam Chef, located at 608 S. Hampton St., is open Monday to Sunday, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. The phone number is (803) 475-2321.

Contact Johnathan Ryan at 416-8416 or jryan@thelancasternews.com