February 2016

Trending with Truffles and Chow Daddy’s

Author: Becca Edwards | Photographer: Photography by Anne

Price and Karen Beall, owners of Truffles Café and Chow-Daddy’s

Food trends have set the culinary stage for decades. Maybe even centuries. Postwar America in the 1950s boomed with prepackaged foods and canned good-based concoctions like tuna casserole. Julia Child brought French cuisine to haute in the 1960s as fast food restaurants such as Wendy’s started clogging arteries in record numbers. The 1970s brought fondue to our bellies and “hippie food” into our free lovin’ hearts. And in the 1980s, health-conscious prepared foods heated up the market—just as restaurateur Price Beall started heating up Hilton Head’s foodie scene.

Truffles Cafe: Coconut Shrimp with Honey Mango Sauce for Dipping

“I left Ruby Tuesday (which Beall’s brother Sandy started) and moved here to open The Second Course in The Gallery of Shops,” Beall said. “We sold vintage wine and offered cooking demonstrations and kitchen design classes. It was great fun. Reilley’s and The Porcupine were below us. What’s funny is now that space is my art studio,” said Karen, Price’s wife and business partner.

Chow Daddy’s: Rib Eye Burger with Arugula, Garlic Aioli, Dijon Mustard, Caramelized Onions and Havarti Cheese served with Sweet Potato Fries

The Second Course, which the Bealls sold one year later, was more like an appetizer career-wise—and a very successful one at that. “When we sold [it], my brother and I decided we wanted to do something fun, and Charles Fraser had talked to my brother about a great spot in Sea Pines. DDL (an Italian specialty foods store started by film producer Dino De Laurentiis) was really big, and we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to bring something like that to Hilton Head?’”

Embracing the healthy prepared food trend, Truffles Bakery and Café opened its doors in 1983. With nostalgic smiles, Price and Karen take turns summing up the next decade. “We started out as a bakery and café, then switched into a market and café, and then a café and then back to a market and café, but the retail went from being food-related to gift-related,” they explained before both simultaneously admitting, “We just gradually evolved into what we are now.”

Truffles Cafe: Southwestern Salad with Spicy Chicken Breast, Sweet Corn, Black Beans, Jack and Cheddar cheese, Tortilla Chips and Southwest Dressing

Chow Daddy’s: Grilled Buttermilk Jalapeño Cheese Cornbread

Truffles Café Oreo Delight

This evolution was not just professional; it was also personal. Karen and Price met the first year Truffles was open. “In fact, a lot of couples have met at Truffles and our other restaurants,” Karen said, laughing, as she and Price list several happily married people who once worked or currently work for them. “When Ruby Tuesday opened a Truffles in Atlanta, I told the staff to look at the person sitting next to them. Given our record, they had a 50-50 chance of marrying that person,” Price joked.

Like a talented chef balances flavors, it takes a savvy businessperson to intermix personal and professional lives, but the Bealls seemed to have cooked this combination to perfection. “When we decided to open Chow Daddy’s, the whole family got involved,” Price said. One daughter, who runs a vintage furniture and accessories booth, helped pick out the decor and the other contributed her cookie recipe to the menu. Price’s brother Sandy joined the partnership, and several family members helped taste the food to create Chow Daddy’s’ delicious menu. “It was a huge conglomeration,” Karen said.
Price believes his love for food is a key ingredient to his success. “My family always loved food.

Whenever we are halfway through a meal, we start talking about the next one,” Price said. “With my restaurants, I want to share my love of food with other people.”

Price realized early in his career that the best way for him to share his love was to be responsive to food trends. “When we sat down and conceptualized Chow Daddy’s, we really wanted to be part of the movement to offer cleaner, healthier food,” Price said. “We also wanted to serve food we would eat,” Karen added. Both Truffles and Chow Daddy’s offer food free of corn syrup (except if you want a Coke), MSGs and GMOs and they make all their own dressings and sauces. Though Truffles plates healthy dishes like the mango salmon and my favorite the tuna Napa salad, Chow Daddy’s is one of the few restaurants on the island whose menu showcases well-constructed vegetarian and vegan dishes like the roasted mushroom tacos. “We wanted to have really tasty vegetable-based dishes as well as satisfy the meat lovers in the family,” Karen said.

Chow Daddy’s also honors the environmental trend. “Pretty much everything you see here is recycled,” the Bealls said, as we sat and talked at Chow Daddy’s on Pope Avenue. “Bluffton, too.” As a business practice, the Bealls make every effort not to be wasteful. “We plan our menus so that we run through our ingredients every 24 to 36 hours,” Karen said. “This also ensures we have the freshest food.”

One trend the Bealls have never followed, however, is the tendency toward a high turnover rate in restaurants. Many of their employees have been with them for over a decade, some even since the first Truffles. Also, many members of their management team began as hosts and hostesses. “We really believe in longevity, and we work hard to keep our employees happy,” Price said. As a result, the staff understands all aspects of the business, the restaurant and each other. Price also added that making Truffles and Chow Daddy’s a fun place to work creates a positive environment for everyone—especially the patrons.

When asked why they have stuck out an industry as difficult as the restaurant business for so long both Price and Karen agreed it is the people. “This community has been good to us, and we want to continue being good to it.” The Bealls say they hope to accomplish this by continuing to stay with food trends and providing the quality and consistency people have come to expect from them. 

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