Hilton Head’s largest restaurant group purchases Charbar, Holy Tequila! and Whiskey Room

Three of the most popular restaurants on Hilton Head’s south end have been acquired by the largest employer on the island, according to a news release from Southeast Entertainment Restaurant Group.

Charbar, Holy Tequila! and the recently opened Whiskey Room at Charbar have been acquired by SERG, the largest hospitality group on the Hilton Head.

The restaurants, all located on Hilton Head’s south end in Park Plaza, were owned by 32-year-old entrepreneur and Hilton Head local Nick Bergelt and his company HHI Hospitality.

“It’s official we take over starting today. Nothing changes!” SERG president Steve Carb wrote on his Facebook page.

SERG has no plans to make any staffing changes at the restaurants, the news release said.

“We aren’t going to change what’s working already,” Alan Wolf, SERG director of operations and partner, said in the news release.

The Whiskey Room, a prohibition-style lounge attached to Charbar by a secret bookcase entrance, took Bergelt and his team 18 months to complete before it opened in January. Bergelt started Charbar, a burger and beer joint, in 2012. Holy Tequila, “an upscale fusion of Mexican and American flare,” opened in 2014.

Bergelt said “timing was good for both parties,” and “it was a good opportunity to get another strong operator in place that could carry the existing concepts forward.”

Bergelt has “decided to move his focus to franchising his quick service restaurant concepts Stoner’s Pizza Joint and Healthy Habit.”

“We intend to grow our (Healthy Habit) footprint throughout the Lowcountry with brick and mortar locations and kiosks in addition to focusing on franchising the fresh and healthy plant-based concept, Bergelt said.

HHI Hospitality still owns real estate in Park Plaza that used to be Monkey Business and Electric Piano, Bergelt told the Island Packet. Healthy Habit will open in the Electric Piano spot sometime this summer.

“We have another exciting new project in the works and details will be disclosed in the upcoming months,” Bergelt said.

As SERG takes over starting Wednesday, customers can expect “only minor tweaks to the decor and atmosphere.” The large restaurant group will also be adding new menu items in the next six months, the news release said.

The restaurant group’s owner has been vocal about Hilton Head’s increasing workforce crisis. Last year, Carb was quoted in the Washington Post calling the island a “disaster zone,” stating his restaurants were short around 100 workers. Some SERG restaurants had to reduce hours and scaled back sections of their popular locations due to a lack of workers.

“On Hilton Head Island, we are very interested in acquisition rather than new construction,” Wolf said in the news release. “These two successful restaurants have a thriving workforce, and that’s important to us with the limited availability of workforce on the island.” SERG has extended continued employment opportunities to all staff members at both restaurants.

In 2016, SERG was named the largest employer on Hilton Head Island with 764 employees.

The restaurant group that began with Giuseppi’s Pizza & Pasta in 1984 now owns 17 restaurants across Hilton Head and Bluffton, including the popular Skull Creek Boathouse and Poseidon Coastal Cuisine.

Last week, SERG announced One Hot Mama’s will be opening a second location in Bluffton.

Mandy Matney is an award-winning journalist and self-proclaimed shark enthusiast from Kansas. She worked for newspapers in Missouri and Illinois before she realized Midwestern winters are horrible, then moved to Hilton Head in 2016. She is the breaking news editor at the Island Packet.