Sam Kendall’s, one of Camden’s most sought after dining destinations since it opened in 2007, has opened a second location in Hartsville.
The new restaurant opened in February and has stayed very busy, owner/operator Jonathan Bazinet said.
“We’re very pleased with the response,” Bazinet said. “Truth be told, we have a lot of customers from Hartsville who now don’t have to drive as far to come see us.”
The opening of the new location in Hartsville has been in the works for some time, Bazinet said. He said the idea was first floated several years ago during a casual conversation between Bazinet and the city manager of Hartsville, who was out with friends at Sam Kendall’s in Camden.
“Basically, she said ‘it would be nice to have something like this in Hartsville -- that was about the extent of it,’” Bazinet said.
But after that first chance meeting, things started happening, Bazinet said. He was ultimately approached by a group putting together a project, encouraged by the city of Hartsville, to build a boutique hotel.
The group bought a building, a former Kimbrell’s Furniture store and redesigned it so that the center was cut out of it to form a courtyard space between two new buildings. The restaurant takes up most of the first floor of one of the buildings; the hotel occupies the rest. The two buildings are connected with a pedestrian walkway.
The Hartsville restaurant boasts a seating capacity of 218 and more than 6,000 square feet of space; Sam Kendall’s in Camden has around 2,800 square feet of space and seats around 118, Bazinet said.
But there’s more to opening a new restaurant than just designing a new space, he said.
“We started construction in Jan. 2016, so it took a little over a year to do that,” he said. “However, during that time we had hired people and were training them in Camden so that they could step right in on day one.”
While many different aspects come into play in the business, the success of Sam Kendall’s rests on three main factors: a unique and authentic ambience, superior food quality and excellent service, Bazinet said.
Bazinet, who spent the first part of his career developing such restaurant brands as Boston Market, Einstein Brothers’ Bagels, Hop’s Microbrewery, and Steak and Ale, said those types of restaurant chains do go for a certain signature look. A Steak in Ale in Atlanta, for example, is going to essentially look exactly like a Steak and Ale in Wichita, Kan., from menu design to restroom location.
“When you come in to Sam Kendall’s, it’s going to be unique,” he said. “Sam Kendall’s in Camden is not going to be exactly like Hartsville -- two different spaces; two different buildings and settings -- we want each place to have its own character and personality.”
That said, there will be certain things that will be very similar -- the menu and the price point are going to be basically the same from restaurant to restaurant, he said.
“People expect high quality from us and they get it,” he said. “Our goal, always, is to ensure that the customer enjoys a superior dining experience and that they are glad they came and leave feeling like they got their money’s worth.”
But the key to creating that superior dining experience is the employees, Bazinet said.
“If you get the right people, train them, provide a work atmosphere in which they know they have clear expectations to meet but will be treated and compensated fairly and will be provided opportunities to grow, then they will want to stay,” he said. “That means less turn-over, which means less time, money and energy spent finding and training new people, which, while it might look as though it’s more cost effective in the short-term, ultimately costs more in overall resources. And because your people are essentially growing and nurturing your business -- because they understand it’s their business, too -- you’re building a much stronger, healthier future, for you and for them. You will grow.”
The Hartsville restaurant is the first new location; however, Bazinet says there will be others.
“These things don’t happen overnight,” he said. “It takes a lot of time and planning and I am basically a one man operation in that sense. But I have people who want to grow with the company, so the company needs to grow, otherwise they will seek advancement elsewhere.”
The new Sam Kendall’s in Hartsville, 134 E. Carolina Ave., is open Monday through Saturday from 5-10 p.m. For more information, call (843) 339-2005.