If you’re a fan of incredible food in Charleston, then you might already know restaurateur Michael Shemtov ‘00. Shemtov owns sandwich shop Butcher & Bee, provisions store The Daily, and co-owns three Mellow Mushroom pizza franchises.
Once upon a time, Shemtov was a high school student in Atlanta, trying to figure out his future. After a trip to the Lowcountry, things came into focus.
“What made me choose CofC was my visit to Charleston,” Shemtov recently recalled, “specifically in speaking with the students who I met while walking around campus and King Street — everyone raved about their time here and loved the city and the school. I visited a half dozen colleges and nowhere did I find the same level of enthusiasm. Nowhere else was the passion uniform — in Charleston, everyone loved it.”
In 2000, during his senior year as an undergrad, Shemtov wrote his business plan for a Mellow Mushroom eatery near campus as a final paper for his coursework. In 2001, along with business partners Johnny Hudgins and Josh Broome ’01, the beginnings of a Lowcountry pizza empire opened on King Street. With the success of their downtown location, the trio has gone on to build Mellow Mushrooms in West Ashley and Summerville, S.C..
After the pizzerias, Shemtov went on to open the award-winning lunch/brunch destination Butcher & Bee in 2011. Routinely cited as a “must-visit” for sandwich enthusiasts, Butcher & Bee has been so successful that Shemtov recently opened an outpost in Nashville and will soon expand the Charleston store. Shemtov also opened grab-and-go shop The Daily on King Street in 2015.
When asked how the College helped with his meteoric rise to the top of the Charleston food and beverage world, Shemtov explained, “Well, first of all (The College) got me to Charleston, where I have lived ever since. It also taught me that if you push and work hard, you can get the attention of your professors (or mentors ), who will spot your passion and help you push yourself even more.”
After attracting attention, Shemtov suggests making the most of every chance you get.
“I jumped on every opportunity when I was at the College to work closely with the professors who drove me, whom I could learn the most from,” he says. “When they brought in a guest speaker, I stayed after class and introduced myself to that person, and asked if I could get their card, and 30 minutes for coffee. I learned to hustle, and learned that when you are in a supportive environment like CofC, you must take advantage of the opportunities put in front of you.”
Since his College days, Shemtov has not stopped hustling. Next up for the ambitious restaurateur: creating the fancy food court Workshop, which is due to open in Charleston by the end of 2016.