Trying new dishes is one of the best reasons to go on a vacation. With a dynamic food scene, Charleston is a must-visit for foodies. Located on the coast of South Carolina, Charleston has become one of the top travel destinations for its award-winning restaurants.
The city is one of the best places to enjoy a couple of cheat days with mouthwatering fried chicken, famous South Carolina barbecue, and warm buttermilk biscuits. If the typical Southern delicacies like pimento cheese or shrimp and grits are not your thing, Charleston offers a diverse restaurant scene, including something for everyone.
New restaurants are popping up all the time with their contemporary spin on the famous cuisine scene. You can also find the best breweries around the city.
No matter which part of Charleston you’re in, you will never run out of quality food options. From fresh seafood to crab soup to bread pudding to perfect biscuits and more, the city offers everything you can ever imagine.
If you’re heading to Charleston, here’s the list of some of the best restaurants in town, which you must visit to taste the unique flavors of the city.
Best Restaurants in Charleston, South Carolina
This section has rounded up the top 26 Charleston restaurants for every occasion.
1. Lewis Barbecue
Address: 464 N Nassau St, Charleston, SC 29403
Known For: Central Texas-style barbecue
If you are looking for the best barbecue in Charleston, Lewis Barbecue is hands down the best. The restaurant strives to offer a full-on Central Texas-style barbecue experience. You can sample everything they have on the table, including beef brisket, pulled pork, pork ribs, sandwiches, and delicious side dishes.
Lewis Barbecue also features a bar with 12 beer taps that also offers freshly squeezed cocktails, local craft beer, and wine. The restaurant’s indoor and outdoor seating is enough to amaze all guests.
The restaurant makes you feel like you are in Austin, Texas, as the master expert John Lewis has perfected the craft of Texas barbecue in Austin.
If you’re in the city, visit the place to enjoy Texas-style cuisine and drinks. Additionally, you aren’t required to make reservations.
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2. Peninsula Grill
Address: 112 North Market Street, Charleston, SC 29401
Known For: Ultimate coconut cake
Peninsula Grill is a fabulous place to eat in Charleston. It gives a sophisticated feel of an urban restaurant with a Southern charm. Dedicated to serving the freshest and finest local and global ingredients, this award-winning restaurant is dedicated to offering a world-class culinary experience to all guests.
The inventive menu offers boldly flavored cuisine with Lowcountry accents, including grits, collard greens, black-eyed peas, and hushpuppies. Visit the eatery and start your evening with She-Crab Soup, followed by steak and other options.
The champagne bar offers a variety of champagnes by the glass and some treats like lobster, oysters, caviar, foie gras, and duck pâté. Enjoy some delicious food paired with wines or your favorite drink on the menu.
If you’re heading here, don’t forget to save room to try their special 12-layer Coconut Cake. The New York Times has described it as a “slice of heaven.”
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3. Uncork Charleston
Address: 476 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
Known For: A unique selection of 40+ wines
You can find a range of wine on upper King Street, and Uncork is one of the top choices. This self-serve wine-forward restaurant is in a historic building constructed in 1876. It is undoubtedly one of the best places in the city to enjoy good wine, delicious bites, and live music.
When it comes to wine tasting, Uncork is very flexible. Featuring more than 40 wines on display, you can taste as many as you want, half glass or full glass.
The wine collection at the restaurant keeps changing. If you love a particular wine, you can choose to go big and order your favorite bottle.
Besides wine, Uncork has an extensive food menu which includes taps, gourmet charcuterie, pasta, sandwiches, meatballs, salads, and sweets. You can enjoy mouthwatering dishes with suggested wine pairings, and the staff will ensure you do not go wrong.
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4. Hannibal’s Kitchen
Address: 16 Blake St, Charleston, SC 29403
Known For: Crab and shrimp rice, shark steak, and other Southern seafood
Opened in 1985, Hannibal’s Kitchen is a Charleston staple. It isn’t a fancy eatery with an exquisite atmosphere but it does serve the best soul food classics.
Whether you’re looking for seafood or old-fashioned soul food, this can be your right stop. Hannibal’s features an extensive menu of the freshest seafood, and the Crab and Shrimp Rice is their signature dish. Other best-sellers are shark steak, salmon, and shrimp.
A hot spot for a range of Southern seafood specialties, the restaurant has been feeding the city’s soul for decades. It’s a welcoming place with comfortable seating and great food options.
Overall, Hannibal’s Kitchen is one of the best places in Charleston to try a vast range of authentic Lowcountry dishes at a reasonable price.
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5. Rodney Scott’s BBQ
Address: 1011 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
Known For: Lowcountry-Style slow-smoked pulled pork
Opened in 2017, Rodney Scott’s BBQ is another popular barbecue restaurant in Charleston. Also known as Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ, this place serves the best Lowcountry-style slow-smoked pulled pork BBQ and chicken.
Featuring a long lunch and dinner menu, the restaurant offers delectable food options, including whole hog barbecue, smoked chicken wings, sandwiches, hush puppies, classic sides, and desserts.
Rodney Scott’s BBQ treats its crew and customers as family. Their focus is on serving quality food with love to delight every customer. If you’re a barbecue connoisseur, a visit to this restaurant is a must- you won’t be disappointed.
Additionally, the restaurant offers an online delivery option for those who cannot visit the place in person.
6. Chubby Fish
Address: 252 Coming St, Charleston, SC 29403
Known For: Fresh seafood, local oysters
Chubby Fish is a small, warm restaurant serving fancy seafood dishes with a creative list of wine and desserts. Located in the Historic Elliotborough neighborhood of Charleston, this place offers fresh, locally-sourced seafood in an intimate setting.
Chef James London brings only fresh dishes to the table to delight the customers of Chubby Fish. The restaurant collaborates with local farms and fishermen to feature seasonal food and ingredients.
Though the restaurant offers loads of flavorsome seafood options, the grilled oysters, poached black grouper, and wahoo crudo are worth the wait. The menu changes daily based on what’s available at the local market.
Visit the restaurant, try their inventive dishes, and don’t miss the ice cream at the end.
7. Bertha’s Kitchen
Address: 2332 Meeting St Rd, Charleston, SC 29405
Known For: Home-Style Southern soul food
Whether you’re a local or tourist, a meal at Bertha’s Kitchen is a must for everyone in Charleston. This no-frills counter-serve eatery is famous for serving homestyle, unpretentious Southern soul food.
Though you will find various options on their vibrant menu, try the oxtail, fried fish, red rice, lima beans with rice, okra stew, and baked chicken to taste their unique flavors. It’s a great place to enjoy comfort food after a long tiring day.
If you’re tired of upscale restaurants, try out Bertha’s Kitchen for genuine Carolina Lowcountry cooking. This place is authentic and serves honest ingredients, making it an excellent option for food lovers.
8. Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit
Address: 476 1/2 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
Known For: Delicious buttermilk biscuits
If you have midnight cravings, head to Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit on upper King Street. If you step out at night, you are more likely to see a long line out of the restaurant.
The restaurant began as a breakfast counter and used to sell only flaky buttermilk biscuits. Over time, it became the best late-night snack place in the region.
Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit serves a vast range of pimento cheese sandwiches and piping hot biscuits. They also provide multiple options for breakfast, lunch, and late-night treats.
They offer dine-in and curbside pickup. You can go for any option depending on your convenience.
Everyone in the city is happy to stand in line for their unique and mouth-watering biscuits. This restaurant is one of the places you must visit on any trip to Charleston.
9. Leon’s Oyster Shop
Address: 698 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
Known For: Fried chicken and oysters
Visited Charleston and have not yet had oysters and fried chicken? A trip to the city is incomplete without trying these famous Charleston dishes. The right place to enjoy fresh fried oysters and chicken is Leon’s Fine Poultry & Oyster Shop.
Leon’s is a comfortable indoor/outdoor restaurant that serves fried chicken, oysters, salads, cocktails, cheap beer, soft serve, and grower champagne. Housed in an old shop, this eatery still preserves its industrial history, with concrete floors and functioning garage doors.
They have an extensive menu, offering something to delight every taste bud. Visit this oyster bar restaurant with your group and try out their delicious Southern-style seafood, fried chicken, and oysters in a relaxed space with a patio.
The restaurant has been recognized by Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, New York Times, EATER, James Beard Foundation, and Travel & Leisure as a leader in the food scene of Charleston.
Whether you’re in Charleston for business or leisure, a visit to Leon’s is a must.
10. Butcher & Bee
Address: 1085 Morrison Dr, Charleston, SC 29403
Known For: Seasonal cuisine made with local ingredients
Butcher & Bee is another one of the best fine-dining restaurants in Charleston. Both locals and tourists are obsessed with the food served at this American restaurant.
The restaurant is simply incredible and offers an eclectic, continuously changing menu of seasonal cuisine made from local ingredients. No matter when you’re visiting, they serve a wide range of flavorful dishes and the spice of life to their customers.
The locally sourced, freshest, and finest seasonal ingredients add rich, wholesome flavor to all dishes. With the best fresh salads and sandwiches, the place is really accommodating to people with various dietary restrictions.
For wine lovers, Butcher & Bee’s exceptional wine selection is the cherry on top. Apart from the diverse food and wine menu, they offer a selection of pastries, in-house baked bread, and sweets.
Overall, the beautiful ambiance and indoor/outdoor seating can add character to your overall experience.
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Address: 76 Queen St, Charleston, SC 29401
Known For: Exquisite Southern dishes
Centrally located in historic downtown Charleston, Husk is an award-winning Southern restaurant. Featuring an ever-changing menu, they serve Southern dishes made from locally sourced ingredients in a beautifully restored Victorian-era home.
The food here is a unique experience for travelers from across the world. Every cuisine they serve is about exploring Southern food’s reality. This approach results in delightful dishes, including South Carolina Shrimp, Deviled Eggs with Trout Roe and Pickled Okra, and Choppee Okra Stew with Flowering Basil and Carolina Gold Rice.
Since this fine dining restaurant is so popular, it is hard to find a table, even for locals. The Bar at Husk is located next door and is equally as good. It has a small food menu and an extensive drink menu full of cocktails and bourbon choices.
Overall, it is one of the best spots in Charleston to taste some exquisite Southern dishes with top-quality luxury ingredients.
12. Jackrabbit Filly
Address: 4628 Spruill Ave #101, North Charleston, SC 29405
Known For: Contemporary Chinese-American cuisine
Located in the heart of Park Circle, Jackrabbit Filly is a family-style restaurant and local favorite. It is known for serving contemporary Chinese-American dishes in a relaxed setting with a patio.
The spicy noodles are to die for and come with a soft-boiled egg and long hot peppers. If you’re looking for something with less heat, I recommend the Singapore fried rice, which comes with bacon, peas, pineapple, and a curry buttermilk aioli.
The raw ingredients on the menu come from local farmers and fishermen. The restaurant’s menu also includes all-natural wines that support women producers. Their refreshing cocktails ensure a good time for all guests.
The fun and friendly neighborhood environment make your time at Jackrabbit Filly even more exciting. If you want to try something out of fried chicken and fried green tomatoes, head to this Chinese-American eatery.
13. The Swamp Fox Restaurant
Address: Francis Marion Hotel, 387 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
Known For: Shrimp and grits
Located in Francis Marion Hotel, The Swamp Fox Restaurant is an all-day eatery serving Southern cuisine with live jazz some nights. It is one of the best fine-dining restaurants in Charleston.
Chef de Cuisine Daniel James and Executive Chef Heyward Davis use locally-sourced seafood and farm-fresh ingredients to produce some delectable regional specialties. If you’re into classic Lowcountry food, this place is the right spot.
Walk into this restaurant with your friends, and you are guaranteed an unforgettable experience. Their service is world-class, and the food and drinks are equally great.
14. 167 Raw
Address: 193 King St, Charleston, SC 29401
Known For: Oysters, fish tacos, and lobster rolls
If you want to try the local’s favorite place for oysters, head to 167 Raw. This New England-style oyster bar and restaurant is in the center of historic downtown Charleston. The place offers a raw bar, fish market, and cafe in one setting.
The restaurant serves an extensive list of the finest seafood, including oven-roasted oysters, oven-roasted crab dip, a lobster roll sandwich, fish tacos, shrimp tacos, and more. Some favorite dishes are crispy oysters, king crab mafaldine, and Northeast diver sea scallops.
Visit this seafood restaurant in downtown Charleston and cherish your mood with a selection of clams, oysters, cocktail shrimp, and ceviche. Their quick service makes your experience even more delightful.
They also offer a breathtaking beer and wine menu. If you’re roaming the area, visit the restaurant, and enjoy lots of seafood dishes with your favorite drinks.
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15. Home Team BBQ
Address: 126 Williman St, Charleston, SC 29403
Famous For: Classic BBQ dishes
Home Team BBQ is one of the best barbecue restaurants in Charleston. The eatery combines traditional techniques and processes of classical dishes with the simplicity of BBQ, comfort food, and Southern fare.
The restaurant has three locations in the city – Downtown Charleston, Sullivan’s Island, and West Ashley. It has become more than a barbecue staple and is known as a meat empire.
This bustling tavern serves generous portions of smoked meat and Southern sides with frequent live music. Try the smoked wings, the signature cocktails, and the delicious pulled pork nachos.
The award-winning food, unique bar offerings, live entertainment, and family-friendly atmosphere make this restaurant popular among tourists on a Charleston tour. You can visit the restaurant anytime for your family lunch or dinner or a fun night out in the city with friends.
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16. Slightly North of Broad
Address: 192 East Bay St, Charleston, SC 29401
Known For: Modern Southern and Lowcountry cuisine
Located on East Bay Street, Slightly North of Broad is an eclectic Lowcountry bistro bringing together an abundance of locally-produced ingredients with an expert presentation. Their dining room is an extension of the kitchen, a blend of culinary skills, a fantastic wine program, and warm service.
The restaurant serves a vast selection of modern Southern and Lowcountry cuisine in an open, 18th-century warehouse. Offering lots of dessert options, you can try their warm sour cream apple pie and the creme brûlée, which are absolute yum.
For brunch, lunch, or dinner, you can visit the restaurant for any meal. Their menu changes almost daily as they want to serve only the freshest dishes to their guests. Each day, the restaurant uploads a new menu to their website, so you can always get a preview of what’s being served up that day.
Overall, Slightly North of Broad is an ideal place for couples and large groups. This is definitely a restaurant to visit on a return trip to Charleston.
17. Poogan’s Porch
Address: 72 Queen St, Charleston, SC 29401
Known For: Traditional Southern dishes
The oldest independent culinary establishment in Charleston, Poogan’s Porch, is another Southern restaurant on Queen Street. They have a fresh and unique approach to Lowcountry dishes.
This restaurant serves a large variety of traditional Southern cuisine in a beautifully restored Victorian townhouse with wrap-around porches and a wine cellar. It is a perfect place for brunch or dinner with family or friends.
This restaurant is so good that you must try it for one meal and good taste. They have an extensive menu of finger-licking dishes, including fried chicken, sweet tea glazed salmon, biscuits, local seafood, filet mignon, and fried pimento cheese.
Poogan’s Porch offers everything you ever wanted to try and a lot more than you ever thought you would try. You can head to this place for dinner, drinks, or brunch. No matter what you order, they will not disappoint you for sure.
Address: 384 Huger St #4126, Charleston, SC 29403
Known For: Wood-fired Neopolitan pizza
Situated in a historic Charleston storefront, Renzo is a well-known pizza restaurant in the town. This is a gourmet wood-fired pizza, pasta, and natural wine destination. If you love pizza, pasta, and wine, this could be your new favorite place in town.
Renzo is also a perfect date night hot spot and is taking over the food scene in Charleston. This place is relatively small, but each pizza they serve will blow your mind.
If you want to try a variety of cuisines, this is one of the best places in the area. They often change their menu with themed dinners and frequent specials.
Offering lots of options to eat and drink, Renzo is an ideal spot for small groups. It’s worth noting that this is a small place, and they do not take reservations.
19. Bowen’s Island Restaurant
Address: 1870 Bowens Island Rd, Charleston, SC 29412
Known For: Unique Carolina Lowcountry seafood
A short drive from the city, Bowen Island Restaurant is another place to enjoy fresh seafood. This waterside restaurant serves a wide selection of fresh, next-level seafood.
Sitting at the edge of a 13-acre island, this restaurant is popular among locals and tourists for its locally harvested oysters, sweet corn on the cob, hush puppies, fried shrimp, cold beer, and Frogmore stew. Their shrimp and fried fish platters are very famous.
You can also try local brews while cherishing the breathtaking view of the island, river, marshes, and wildlife. If you visit the restaurant in the evening, you can enjoy the beautiful sunset on top of the marsh with your favorite drink in hand.
Bowen Island is a must-visit if you’re a Charleston local or an adventurous tourist. Go there with your family or friends, find seats on the back porch, and enjoy the gorgeous view with a beer and a tray of fried oysters and shrimp.
20. Xiao Bao Biscuit
Address: 224 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29403
Known For: Asian cuisine and signature cocktails
Opened in 2012, Xiao Bao Biscuit is a popular Asian restaurant in Charleston. The eatery is famous among locals by the name XBB. It is one of the top spots in Charleston as it offers an ideal and extensive blend of Asian cuisine.
Filled with excellent flavors, all their dishes come from Taiwan, China, Vietnam, and Thailand. The restaurant remains closed for one month each year and comes back with a new menu inspiration.
They have some of the most innovative dishes you will ever taste. Give a try to Thai som tum, Chinese lamb dumplings, and the cabbage pancake.
Whether you’re a local or a tourist, stop at Xiao Bao Biscuit to try their delicious and interesting dishes. A visit to this Asian eatery is definitely worth it.
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Address: 232 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401
Known For: Serving Southern classics in an upscale-bistro setting
Opened in 2003, FIG is a local neighborhood American restaurant in Charleston. With a passion for high-quality ingredients and bold flavors, the restaurant creates a convivial atmosphere, making it a heaven for food lovers.
They source seasonal products with integrity and flavor and incorporate them into the menu to prepare delectable dishes. Coming to the service, FIG’s staff is outstanding. They strive to make their guests feel special and comfortable by offering a personalized experience.
The menu offers multiple options; you can start your meal with pumpkin soup or chicken liver pâté. For the main course, you can have the suckling pig with Carolina gold rice, brown butter-basted grouper, or the pan-roasted rib eye supreme. I recommend ordering the rum baba or baked Alaska to end the meal with a sweet dish.
In addition to the delicious cuising, this American restaurant also has a full bar featuring an extensive collection of domestic and imported beer and wine. The restaurant was a James Beard award winner for Outstanding Wine Program in 2019.
22. Sugar Bakeshop
Address: 59 1/2 Cannon St, Charleston, SC 29403
Known For: Cakes, cupcakes, and cookies
If you have a sweet tooth, Sugar Bakeshop is one of the best spots in Charleston to try mind-blowing, delicious desserts. They serve a variety of delicious cakes, cupcakes, and cookies.
Though the menu is extensive, I suggest you try the honey cupcakes, ginger molasses cupcakes, and chocolate cupcakes. They also offer ice cream, popsicles, and tea.
The store takes great pride in preparing and serving freshly-baked, yummy treats. They use local ingredients and make everything by hand. From cakes to cookies, everything they have is freshly made and well-prepared.
Both the interior and exterior of the bakery are perfectly charming. If you’re in the area, do not skip a visit. The staff is super friendly, and the whole bakery smells absolutely amazing.
Delight your taste buds by trying out some freshly-baked desserts in this bakery and cake shop.
23. Millers All Day
Address: 120 King St, Charleston, SC 29401
Known For: Cinnamon rolls and other Southern flavors
A Southern restaurant, Millers All Day, is a perfect spot for Southern-inspired breakfast and lunch. Situated on Lower King Street, this place is co-owned by Greg Johnsman and Nathan Thurston, a well-known chef specializing in Southern flavors.
Millers All Day offers many other delicious options, including smash burgers, chicken salads, lobster rolls, grilled shrimp, fried chicken, frittata, and cupcakes. They also serve grits breakfast bowls, the best way to start the day right.
Overall, this refined restaurant is all about preparing and serving timeless food and drinks to its guests. Millers is not open all day but it usually opens from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm. It is a perfect spot for Southern-inspired lunch and breakfast. The menu is simple but exciting and their cinnamon rolls are out of the world!
They are made from biscuit dough and have the perfect taste. They also have special grits bowl which is always a safe bet.
24. The Darling Oyster Bar
Address: 513 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
Known For: Oyster spaghetti
Since Charleston is close to the water, you will find many spots to try delicious seafood. The Darling Oyster Bar is one of the best restaurants, with a range of fresh seafood dishes on the menu.
Located on King Street, The Darling Oyster Bar is a casual seafood restaurant and raw bar. They change their menu almost daily to offer only fresh seafood. The team uses creative ingredients and serves every dish with an approachable style to make food more appealing.
From brunch to lunch to dessert, all their menus are innovative and delicious. The food is so good that you will find most plates clean in no time. They are known for oyster spaghetti with bacon, lemon, and capers.
If you love seafood, visit the restaurant with family or friends to try its unique, bold flavors.
25. Edmund’s Oast
Address: 1081 Morrison Dr, Charleston, SC 29403
Known For: Brewery and taproom
Edmund’s Oast is a blend of a seasonally-focused kitchen, brewery, and bar. They serve quality, comforting food with wine, beers, and cocktails in a warm, cozy atmosphere.
The restaurant has an outdoor courtyard, a covered patio for outdoor seating, and a spacious dining room with a beautiful on-site brewery. They have a dynamic and elevated menu, including house-made charcuterie, hearty entrees, bar snacks, small plates, and classic desserts with a modern spin.
The restaurant serves authentic food that provides guests with a memorable dining experience inspired by beverages on the menu. With around 50 beers on tap and eight brewed on the premises, this place is definitely an ideal stop for beer lovers. Even if you’re not into beers, they offer a wide variety of drink options.
Additionally, if you’re planning to visit this place with your group, make your reservations in advance.
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26. Second State Coffee
Address: 70 1/2 Beaufain St, Charleston, SC 29401
Known For: Serving world-class coffee
Second State Coffee is a minimalist-chic coffee bar with cold and hot drinks, large communal tables, window-bar seating, and Wi-Fi. This trendy coffee shop looks like it is in Brooklyn, making it one of the top spots in Charleston.
The location, ever-flowing cold brew, and flavorful espresso make it the best spot to head to in the city if you’re looking to get your caffeine fix. With a presence in three different areas, this cafe strives to provide guests with a unique coffee experience in an approachable manner.
Don’t miss the opportunity to taste their world-class coffee if you’re a coffee connoisseur.
Enjoy the Food Scene of Charleston
No matter your preferences or taste, you will never be disappointed in Charleston. Start looking for flights to Charleston and get ready to enjoy the best food scene that always has something for everyone. There are quaint restaurants and happening bars where you can eat and drink to your heart’s content.
The best thing about Charleston’s restaurants is their changing menus, and the chefs put in a lot of effort to make them stand out. If you love seafood and want to experiment with new dishes, Charleston is the right place.
Whether you’re a local or visiting the city for the first time, these are some of the best restaurants in Charleston that must be on your bucket list. Visit them one by one to try out their unique flavors.
What are the most iconic dishes you should try in Charleston?
Though the list is extensive, some iconic dishes you must have in the city are shrimp and grits, she-crab soup, fried chicken, okra soup, fried green tomatoes, oysters, crab rice, and barbecue. There are so many Charleston restaurants that offer these unique dishes.
What is the most famous dessert in Charleston?
The ultimate coconut cake from the restaurant Peninsula Grill is the most in-demand dessert in Charleston. This 12-layer cake is world famous and for good reasons. The restaurant has been serving it since 1997.