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CHARLIES

CHARLIE’S L’ETOILE VERTE IS COOKING UP SOME CHANGES AS IT LOOKS TO THE NEXT GENERATION

When Charlie Golson opened the current Charlie’s L’Etoile Verte 17 years ago, Hilton Head Island was a much different place — especially for a restaurant. With fewer restau-rants around him, the Green Star had less competition for the attention and affections of area diners.

Golson won people over quickly with his signa-ture seafood creations — dishes that masterfully tread the line between French high cuisine and approachable Lowcountry flavor. And for 17 years, even as Charlie has stepped away from the business, that same culinary brilliance has kept his restaurant top of mind among the island’s foodies.

CHARLIES3But now a new generation has come along, ready to launch L’Etoile Verte to new heights.

“The restaurant started so long ago and has grown with our customers while trying to maintain who we are,” said Margaret Pearman, Charlie’s daughter. “Right now, we’re focused on introducing ourselves to the next generation of customers.

”Courting this next wave meant first meeting them where they live — online. The restaurant now takes online reservations through OpenTable, simplify-ing the process for digital-first customers. Charlie’s L’Etoile Verte also revamped its website and expand-ed its social media efforts — and if ever a restaurant was designed for Instagram’s love of beautiful food, it’s Charlie’s.

But not all the improvements have been digital. Charlie’s now also offers cooking classes, where you can learn the secrets of chef Josh Castillo’s modern take on French Lowcountry cuisine.

“We divide the class up — he does main dishes and I do desserts,” Pearman said. “It’s worked out really nicely.”

Opening up the restaurant’s kitchen for cooking classes means that some of its most famous dishes — whose recipes previously were closely guarded by the chef — are being written down for the first time. Eventually, Pearman plans on collecting them into a cookbook.

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But the true treat for the next generation? For the first time, Charlie’s now offers a kid’s menu with tasty options like fish batons, chicken alfredo pasta, a burger and a petit filet.

There’s a French saying, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” — the more things change, the more they stay the same. For loyal customers, it’s still the same Charlie’s. For the next generation, it’s a chance to discover one of the island’s most cher-ished restaurants.