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Robert Starnes got his start as a chef at a car dealership of all places.
Starnes, one of the three guys in Lancaster’s 3 Guys Bistro and Catering, said he created gourmet meals for customers at a Kia dealership in Gastonia, running a full-service restaurant there.
“It was hysterical – people loved it,” Starnes said.
He eventually contracted with Kia of Monroe and Greer and Toyota of Greer.
Now, 3 Guys Bistro is serving up shrimp and grits, beef Wellington, gourmet lamb burgers, Tuscan lasagna and other American and Italian favorites at the Edwards Scott House at 200 Elm St., Lancaster.
Starnes, who is the chef and runs the bistro with sous chefs Jamie Hargett and Wayne Boone, has lived in Lancaster for 11 years. He wanted to open a new restaurant that offers a little something different to Lancaster residents.
The food is made from scratch, and he uses local produce and meats.
It’s a risk to open a new business any time, and perhaps even more during a shaky economy. So, why did Starnes choose to open his business now?
“I’m an idiot,” he said. “Aside from that, I love our local restaurants but there are very few to choose from. We’re completely different.”
Part of the fun – and the challenge – of being the chef at 3 Guys is that the menu changes from week to week.
“It keeps the kitchen staff on their toes,” Starnes said. “If you make the same dishes over and over, it becomes robotic. This menu allows us to create.”
For lunch, 3 Guys offers what Starnes calls, “fun, upscale sandwiches,” or dishes such as Asian barbecue pork kabobs or fried green tomato salad.
At dinner, the menu may feature fillet mignon and lobster, parmesan chicken in marinara with penne pasta and honey-Dijon, soy-glazed lamb chops. Dinner prices include appetizer, salad, entree and dessert.
Appetizers may be a fried-tomato stack, tortilla soup or shrimp and grits. Desserts may include chocolate cake, cheese cake or pecan pie. A kids menu is also available.
The bistro began delivery-only service at lunch in June, and began serving lunch and dinner at Edwards-Scott House three weeks ago.
Edwards Scott House, owned by Scott Sistare, is still open for business on its own, doing catering for weddings and other events, and serving a Sunday lunch buffet.
When Sistare has a wedding or other gathering at Edwards-Scott House on a Saturday night, for example, 3 Guys Bistro will be closed.
“I’m so grateful to Scott Sistare for giving us the opportunity to present this to Lancaster,” Starnes said.
Starnes said he has put his life savings into 3 Guys Bistro. It means he’s up early every morning cooking and prepping his meals, and often works until 10 p.m. or later. But to him, the sacrifices are worth it.
“We want to give Lancaster a true dining experience that’s not pretentious and doesn’t require a suit and tie,” Starnes said. “This is my passion. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing.”
Want to go?
Lunch hours at 3 Guys Bistro and Catering are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Dinner hours are Thursday through Saturday from 5 to 9 p.m.
For details, call (803) 235-5966 or (803) 235-8276. The restaurant also has a page on Facebook.
Contact senior reporter Jenny Arnold at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (803) 283-1151