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Dead vultures found in West Ashley positive for avian flu, cannot be removed

WEST ASHLEY, S.C. (WCBD) — South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has confirmed that some dead vultures found in a West Ashley neighborhood tested positive for a highly pathogenic avian flu.Dore Carlo originally found dozens of the dead vultures near two retention ponds behind his home on May 7....

WEST ASHLEY, S.C. (WCBD) — South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has confirmed that some dead vultures found in a West Ashley neighborhood tested positive for a highly pathogenic avian flu.

Dore Carlo originally found dozens of the dead vultures near two retention ponds behind his home on May 7.

“We had friends come over, who had a golf cart, and we took a ride back here and saw dozens of dead ones,” Carlo recalled.

He reported it to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), which took samples from the birds on May 10.

“DHEC advised me to get the word out best I could to keep children and pets away from the area,” Carlo said.

Health officials said avian flu can spread through any contact with the birds, as well as through their feathers or fecal material. However, the risk of people or pets contracting the virus is considered low.

“Anytime it does happen, that’s when we call it a novel flu strain – or novel infection – anytime it goes from animal host to human host,” said Jonathan Knoche, a DHEC public health physician.

Will Dillman, SCDNR assistant chief of wildlife, said direct sunlight and summer heat help kill the virus.

“As the weather heats up this should be less prevalent and run its course,” he said.

Almost a month after the dead vultures were first reported, Carlo said they are still losing two or three vultures a day, and more than 20 carcasses still sit in the neighborhood.

Now, he wants to know who will get rid of all the carcasses surrounding the retention ponds where people walk their dogs and children play.

“There’s other diseases I’m sure will come along from all these dead birds, not to mention they are bringing other animals around that would be feeding off of them,” said Carlo.

Both SCDNR and DHEC said there is nothing they can do to remove the dead birds.

“Moving those carcasses around to other places has the potential to spread that [avian flu] around,” said Dillman.

Carlo said he is working with his homeowner’s association to remove the carcasses to keep his family and neighbors safe.

The Count on 2 Investigators did reach out to the HOA property manager to see what other avenues they are taking since SCDNR and DHEC will not remove the dead vultures.

We have yet to hear back.

Commercial development plans for West Ashely Circle moving forward

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston city officials approved the first steps for a developer to build a car wash, retail space and restaurant space along West Ashley Circle near the Walmart.“That would be fine with me, it’s already a cool spot. So expansion is good,” says Richard Brooks who has lived in West Ashley for a few years and says he likes the area.“There’s lots of trees, there’s lots of stuff going on too at the same time. It’s not too developed, so a little more couldn’...

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston city officials approved the first steps for a developer to build a car wash, retail space and restaurant space along West Ashley Circle near the Walmart.

“That would be fine with me, it’s already a cool spot. So expansion is good,” says Richard Brooks who has lived in West Ashley for a few years and says he likes the area.

“There’s lots of trees, there’s lots of stuff going on too at the same time. It’s not too developed, so a little more couldn’t hurt,” Brooks says.

Developers proposed a plan that would have a walkable plaza with a few businesses along the circle with parking in the back. They said they have an interested restaurant company who was part of designing the indoor and outdoor seating. They are also looking at take-out window on the patio.

“I’ll always take more food, more food more options. The better for me, not so much for my diet,” Miles White says.

White has lived in the area a few months. He says he isn’t sure about moving when his lease is up, but with a few new attractions right near his home, he says it’s a great place to be.

“If more restaurants come this way, all the better,” he said.

But, some people say the convenience of West Ashley is that it is not as compact as downtown. Kevin Earle says he doesn’t mind the idea, but worries that traffic is already overwhelming for the suburb.

“There’s advantages for it, but at the same time the more you pack in there the less you can move around,” Earle says.

There are some wetlands on the proposed property, but the developer is not planning to fill them. They will build the car wash and retail/restaurant building on the highlands.

Jordyn Goodman and her family just moved to West Ashley from the Summerville area. She says the local attractions are a big draw for the neighborhood.

“I’m excited. I mean we’re moving here and now something else is happening. It’s like – Woo! Stuff!” Goodman says.

The design review board approved the conceptual designs for the development with a few requirements for adjusting awnings, planning specific landscaping and making sure there are no noise violations.

Copyright 2022 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Dead vultures in Charleston Co. test positive for avian flu, health officials say

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - State health officials are warning community members to avoid dead or sick wild vultures after dead vultures found in Charleston County tested positive for avian influenza.The Department of Health and Environmental Control says they are aware of a “mass die-off” of wild vultures in the county. Some of those birds tested positive for the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) caused by the influenza virus subtypes, including H5N1.West Ashley homeowner Dore Carlo said he found a few dead vu...

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - State health officials are warning community members to avoid dead or sick wild vultures after dead vultures found in Charleston County tested positive for avian influenza.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control says they are aware of a “mass die-off” of wild vultures in the county. Some of those birds tested positive for the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) caused by the influenza virus subtypes, including H5N1.

West Ashley homeowner Dore Carlo said he found a few dead vultures behind his home on May 6. The following day, he went to another pond further behind his home and found dozens of carcasses.

“They hang out here. They breed out here,” Carlo said. “At any given time, there would be hundreds of them here. As you can see, there’s very few.”

Photos shared with Live 5 News from May 7 captured the dead vultures lying along the banks of the pond.

The homeowner said the pond where the birds were discovered is frequented by neighbors who walk their pets and children who fish.

Carlo said he received an email from his property manager and a phone call from DHEC on Tuesday confirming the birds had tested positive for avian flu.

He said the deaths have left neighbors worried.

“Everybody once they found out it was bird flu were very concerned,” Carlo said. “Again, we’re concerned that there’s other animals coming out here feasting on these dead vultures, and hopefully, it’s not spreading to anything else.”

The agency said while the risk to people, pets and tame animals is thought to be low, the risk is not well known and contact with dead or sick birds should be avoided.

Additionally, the agency recommends avoiding areas where the birds have been found as the virus can be spread through feathers and fecal matter or areas contaminated by infected birds.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources encourages the public to report unusual bird deaths, which Carlo said was his goal.

“I’m just trying to get the word out to everybody to keep away from this area,” Carlo said. “Everybody’s concerned about getting rid of the dead vultures now, and most of all, just keep kids and pets away from the area.”

DHEC said anyone who comes in contact with a dead bird and develops symptoms of fevers, coughs, fatigue and body aches to seek medical attention and report the potential exposure to their health care provider and local health department.

DHEC recommends monitoring for symptoms for 10 days after known exposure to a bird with HPAI.

The homeowner’s association said they are working with DHEC on a way to handle and remove the dead vultures from area.

Copyright 2022 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Public art puts important conversations on display during Piccolo Spoleto

Public art enters the spotlight at this year’s Piccolo Spoleto Festival with two installations — one current and one in progress — presented with the City of Charleston. Through everyday plastic items and handprints cut from metal sheets, these works aim to spark important conversations surrounding the environment and accessibility.Three boxes nestled on the West Ashley Greenway between Timmerman Drive and Coburg Avenue display Greek-American artist Vassiliki Falkehag’s Future Offerings, this year&rsqu...

Public art enters the spotlight at this year’s Piccolo Spoleto Festival with two installations — one current and one in progress — presented with the City of Charleston. Through everyday plastic items and handprints cut from metal sheets, these works aim to spark important conversations surrounding the environment and accessibility.

Three boxes nestled on the West Ashley Greenway between Timmerman Drive and Coburg Avenue display Greek-American artist Vassiliki Falkehag’s Future Offerings, this year’s Piccolo Spoleto Public Art Exhibition.

Tiger Strike Asteroids, an artist collective with organizations across the country, began the box idea in 2020 as a way to showcase art during the pandemic. After a successful installation in Asheville, North Carolina, and an outdoor series titled Yard Work in Charleston, the City of Charleston commissioned a trio of glass-paneled, white-framed square boxes set on wooden posts along the greenway.

“A lot of people that use that park, who are there to exercise, just kind of stumble upon it,” said curator Hirona Matsuda. “And it’s a fun surprise. That’s what we wanted. We wanted it to be a space that could be viewed by anybody at all times, even if they weren’t necessarily trying to go look at public art.”

Future Offerings reflects the environmental damage that has been caused by plastic. The first box, Forgive Me Sea. Forgive Me., includes a nest made from plastic bags perched on a branch to show how plastic has infected nature. The second, The Plastic Fullness of Nothing., is bursting at the seams with bags that Falkehag crocheted and knitted together.

The final box, Between You and Me., draws on the everyday plastics that humans use, like takeout containers and Amazon packaging. It also includes nurdles, the raw material for anything made of plastic, collected by Charleston Waterkeeper, an organization dedicated to clean waterways. These tiny pellets were a major inspiration behind Future Offerings.

“Working with [Charleston Waterkeeper] was a really, really critical part of this project,” Falkehag said. “They were very gracious to donate these nurdles, which are pure plastic and the building block for all the catastrophe, if I can use another Greek word, for the extinction with all the consumerism.”

Future Offerings will be on display until June 30.

South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind (SCSDB) students, Charleston locals and tourists have all lent a hand making one of the city’s upcoming public art installations – literally.

Sculptor Bob Doster and the SCSDB are building an I Love You sculpture for Charleston, which gets its name from the American Sign Language sign it resembles. Doster has been working as an artist-in-residence for the school since around 2017, building I Love You sculptures with the students.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for them and for me,” Doster said.

He carefully traces hands on sheets of metal and then, hand over hand, guides folks in cutting them out with a plasma cutter. James Ouzts, the chief fabricator, will build the framework, and Doster estimates that at least 350 hands will be welded onto the final 6-foot-tall sculpture. SCSDB is working with the Office of Cultural Affairs to determine where the final sculpture will be installed; the hope is for a fall debut, though it may be spring.

“We make sure the arts are accessible to our students,” said the school’s director of fine arts, Josh Padgett, Ph.D. “That is the key when it comes to working with our students. We’d like to show the accessibility piece to the community, but also the students get to be involved in a piece of permanent art for years to come.”

Doster’s I Love You sculptures can already be found in Spartanburg and Columbia. The sculptures, with their universal message and bold design, are some of his most photographed works.

“Good Lord, we need something that says, ‘I Love You,’” Doster said. “With everything that’s going on in the world today, it’s good to have something to just sit there and say that.”

Katherine Kiessling is a graduate student in the Goldring Arts Journalism and Communications Program at Syracuse University.

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Bearcat, a new 2-part restaurant, set to replace Al Di La in Avondale this fall

George Kovach moved from Chicago to Charleston at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic with the goal of turning an elevated pop-up he hosted in a friend’s apartment and local eating and drinking establishments into a full-service restaurant.Months into the pop-ups, he struck a deal on a brick-and-mortar lease that eventually fell through, temporarily ...

George Kovach moved from Chicago to Charleston at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic with the goal of turning an elevated pop-up he hosted in a friend’s apartment and local eating and drinking establishments into a full-service restaurant.

Months into the pop-ups, he struck a deal on a brick-and-mortar lease that eventually fell through, temporarily sending the chef back to Chicago. One year later, Kovach has finally found a permanent home for his venture in West Ashley’s Avondale neighborhood.

Bearcat will open this fall at 25 Magnolia Road in the space previously occupied by Al Di La.

The two-part restaurant will feature a walk-in-only cocktail-driven lounge serving a small food menu, frozen drinks and cocktails on tap, Kovach said. Open for walk-ins and reservations, the second half will be home to a dining room with a more upscale atmosphere and a seven-course $85 tasting menu reminiscent of the six-course $65 menu served during Bearcat’s pop-up days.

Between 12 and 15 dishes will be available a la carte along with two wine pairings, one of which includes a rotating selection of cocktails, wine, beer and spirits.

Equipped with two kitchens, the spacious site was home to Italian restaurant Al Di La for nearly two decades before its owners abruptly closed the doors at the end of 2021.

After coming across the property in March and signing the lease at the end of May, Kovach plans to bring boundary-pushing cuisine to a neighborhood filled with longtime local favorites, such as Carolina’s Aloha Bar (formerly Voodoo Tiki Bar & Lounge), Gene’s Haufbrau and Triangle Char & Bar.

The space is undergoing extensive renovations ahead of its opening, Kovach said, with the biggest changes taking place in the kitchen where a wood-burning stove has replaced Al Di La’s pizza oven.

He plans to open the bar side of Bearcat in August, with the dining room to follow in September.

“We like to call it ‘Regional Modern American,’” Kovach said, describing Bearcat’s food. “It’s kind of taking nostalgic favorites from not only the South but all over the world and giving them a little bit of a facelift.”

Kovach brings a Michelin star-level pedigree to the restaurant, having spent time in the kitchen at Chicago establishments Elizabeth and the now-closed Band of Bohemia, once the nation’s only Michelin star brewpub.

For hints at what to expect at Bearcat, diners can look back at menus from previous pop-ups, which Kovach briefly restarted in March. Carolina Gold rice with smoked tofu “abalone,” tortellini with beets and mushroom conserva, and sorghum char siu glazed pork shoulder were among the options served at a handful of Bearcat pop-ups throughout the month.

While he aims to serve cutting-edge cuisine, Kovach insists Bearcat will be approachable.

“We don’t necessarily want to scare everyone with our technique,” Kovach said.

In cities like Chicago and New York where Kovach has cooked, tasting menu restaurants are often exclusive venues. With its dual concept and innovative cuisine, Kovach said he believes Bearcat can be different.

“The cool thing about Bearcat is we don’t really want to appeal to tourists as much as we want to appeal to the locals,” Kovach said. “When it comes down to it, the locals are the most important people.”

Kovach has hired a yet-to-be-named chef de cuisine and is still searching for a general manager to lead Bearcat. Diners can expect at least one pop-up ahead of the restaurant’s fall opening and can stay up to date by following Bearcat on Instagram @bearcatchs.

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