We ask the same 10 questions to very different members of Charleston’s diverse community. This week we met with West Of Publisher/ Editor Lorne Chambers.
1. If you’re not from Charleston originally, where are you from and when did you relocate here?
I was born in Pittsburgh, Pa. but moved to South Carolina when I was 10. So I became pretty southernized pretty quick. But I still bleed black and gold. I was raised in the small town of Greenwood, S.C. until I came to the College of Charleston in 1995. After that I had a brief stint on the Gulf Coast of Florida before relocating back to Charleston and have been here ever since.
Did you go to college, and if so, where?
Yes. I attended the College of Knowledge (aka College of Charleston — Class of ’98)
Occupation, employer, and what your role entails?
Newspaper publisher. I started West Of, a weekly community newspaper for the West Ashley region in 2005. I wear a lot of hats, but mostly handle the editorial side of the business. My wife Lindsey handles the sales side of things. In 2015 she and I purchased the Folly Current, a monthly newspaper for Folly Beach.
How does your company and/or your role affect the community?
I like to think we have a big impact on the communities we cover. The two papers I own cover their respective parts of town exclusively. So we do our best to inform the community of what’s going on from a governmental level to who is playing Saturday night at the bar down the street. Because we are hyper-focused on these communities, I think we have a great responsibility to them.
5.Favorite part of your job?
Putting the puzzle together. I look at every issue like a puzzle — I have this space for news, this space for sports, dining, arts, etc. Of course, it all starts with the ads, and then you have to piece it all together from there. I like the challenge of it together every week.
What area of Charleston do you live in and why do you love it?
I like to think I have dual citizenship. Since I am so ingrained in both West Ashley and Folly Beach, I have to be a citizen of both if I’m to cover either properly. I lived on Folly Beach for eight years until this June when Lindsey and I bought our first house together in West Ashley. It is an exciting time for West Ashley with all the revitalization and growth. So it’s great to be right in the thick of it. But we still are rooted in the Folly community and keep an office there. Folly is a special place, so that is still where I “hang out” the most because I love the bars, restaurants, and people.
Who’s your most-loved local venue/cultural excursion and why?
I’m a beer snob, so I’m super excited about Charleston’s booming brewing industry. I also love that as the laws change, these breweries are becoming gathering places. There are four new breweries slated for West Ashley in 2017, so I look forward to hanging closer to the house when they open. But Folly Beach is my spot. The owners of all the bars and restaurants are not only our clients, but our close friends. So we love just bouncing around Center Street and down the side roads and grabbing a bite, hearing some music, or just having a drink.
Also, before I started West Of, I was the music editor at Charleston City Paper, so I love live music and try to see it whenever I can. I’m really excited about what the Charleston Music Hall has been doing lately with their booking and Alex who owns the Pour House is an old friend of mine, so I like to catch as many live shows there as I can as well.
What’s your go-to local dining or takeout spot, and what do you like to order?
This is a tough question. Charleston is overflowing with amazing places to eat. But whether I’m in town or visiting somewhere else, I always try and seek out small, hole-in-the-wall spots where you’d never expect creative food offerings but will find them. On Folly, Jack of Cups, Chico Feo, and ’Wich Doctor are three prime examples. In West Ashley, Voodoo Tiki Bar is a good example. I’m also a sucker for South Carolina BBQ. I went to Texas recently and ate so much brisket that I literally can’t touch the stuff right now. Maybe I’ll come around to it again, but for now, give me a good pulled pork sandwich with mustard sauce. We have some real good ones in West Ashley too — I could eat Home Team BBQ every day (and almost do), but also love what Anthony is doing over at Swig & Swine, and it’s still hard to beat a classic Bessinger’s BBQ sandwich.
But if we really want to treat ourselves, we don’t mess with all the fancy downtown spots, we head to Mondo’s Italian. It’s a tiny, unassuming spot in a strip mall next to Sonic on James Island. But it has the best Italian food in town, in my opinion. The owner is a great guy and the service is always good. We go there often, but it’s always a treat.
Favorite Charleston day-trip destination?
I’m always amazed by the diversity and beauty we have right here in our backyard. Spending the day at Middleton Place is always a nice getaway. Just walking around the gardens and along the river is a special experience. We often try to parlay our Middleton days with a special dinner or beer tasting they’re hosting or a stay at the Middleton Inn. Besides Middleton, a short trip down the road to Botany Bay in Edisto is a perfect day trip. Its natural beauty is stunning.
10. If you could live anywhere in the world other than the Lowcountry, where would that be?
My wife and I have a secret spot along the Pacific side of Costa Rica. It’s not where all the American surfers go; it’s 45 minutes up a dirt road from the beach to a completely secluded spot in the mountains called Rancho Tranquilo. There are three tiny “ranchos” or palm-thatched huts up on stilts in the middle of the rainforest with literally nothing around but monkeys, toucans, and sloths. Most peaceful place I’ve ever been. We’ve been a couple times, so I suppose if I had to live anywhere other than here, that would be it. There or Chiang Mai, Thailand. A magical little city in the mountains of northern Thailand. Food is amazing, people are friendly, and there’s a just a chill vibe everywhere you go. Kind of like Folly Beach if it were in the mountains of Northern Thailand.
It’s beach season and there is no doubt that each one of Charleston’s beaches has it’s own charm. I would say that all are worth a visit, and you can pick one that suites your mood! If you’re looking for surf and are feeling adventurous, Folly is for you. If you’re looking for a great beach to take the kids to, Isle of Palms is where you should be. Want to go kiteboarding? Head on over to Sullivan’s. Each week we will be featuring a different local beach, and this week it’s Folly Beach! Below are some guidelines, rules, and what to expect at Charleston’s most laid-back beach.
Folly Beach is known for it’s surf, college-aged eye candy, fun festivals, and eclectic lifestyle. Just 15 minutes from downtown Charleston, the locals like to call this The Edge of America. The bumper to bumper traffic (totally worth it!) is proof that Folly Beach is the only place to be on a hot summer day.
Folly Beach is probably the favorite beach among the locals. The beach is always open to the public and if you’ve got some cash, you can park at one of the beach’s access points. You can also park for free on the island streets – as long as all your tires are off the road and you don’t mind the walk. Folly is a great place to play volleyball, cornhole, and frisbee but there are some key rules to follow at this beach. There is no drinking or glass allowed on this beach. Trying to sneak it and getting caught will land you a $500 fine, so it’s best to just avoid it in my opinion. Also, starting Memorial Day, dogs are not allowed on the beach between 10AM and 6PM, and they must always be kept on their leash at all times and of course pick up their waste. Littering will get you a hefty $1000 fine and bonfires, fireworks, playing on the sand dunes, disturbing turtle nests, and possessing glass bottles will cost you close to that. For an official guideline of the rules, click here. Just be respectful and have fun!
It’s not just the sun, sand, and surf that brings people to Folly. It’s strip of locally owned shops and restaurants matches the laid back life style of this island town. Head over to Center Street for the best margarita at the original Taco Boy, a local favorite. You could pop in to Lost Dog Cafe for a massive breakfast made island style or get a sandwich, salad, or even sushi delivered beach-side by Drop In Deli.
Check out the Post and Courier to see what fun events are happening at Folly, whether it be Taste of Folly, Folly Beach Pub-crawl, Flip Flop Drop, the sand sculpture contest, or Follypalooza. There is always something happening at Folly and there is plenty of things to do for any kind of person. Explore a maritime forest, drink at the Morris Island Lighthouse, build a giant sand castle, ride bikes, fish off the pier, parasail, watch the sunset, dine out, dine in, and of course, surf! Weddings are also very popular on Folly, with an event permit costing only $25, even though you would have to go inland for your reception.
So grab a surfboard, paddleboard, or even a kiteboard, and head to the Washout. McKevlin’s offers boards for sale on consignment and 1-hour surf lessons for $40. If surfing isn’t your thing, bring your fishing rod and cast on the Folly Pier, where you can fish for $3 – $10 from 6AM to 11 PM. Either way, pack that cooler and get ready to spend one of the most relaxing afternoons you’ve ever spent on a beach.