After 21 years as a chef at one of Mount Pleasant's landmarks, William Alston wasn't quite sure what his future would hold for him when the owner's announced they were closing.
Locklear's, a locally owned restaurant that's been on Coleman Boulevard for 25 years, closed at the end of the May.
Alston not only knew the menu, he created some of it.
Luckily for foodies, he's found a new home at FINZ, thanks to owner Chad Shores.
Alston will serve as the new executive chef. Together they are changing the menu to bring some of the Locklear's favorites to FINZ as specials and new menu items such as grilled dolphin over blue crab hash with a tomato vinaigrette; shrimp, scallops and andouille sausage with roasted tomatoes in a gruyere cream over linguine; Lowcountry crabcakes; petite filet mignon medallions and more.
Alston started working in the restaurant business in 1985 as a dishwasher at Shem Creek Bar and grill. After six months, he said, “washing dishes was not for me.”
He made the move to Locklear's in early 1986 where they were known for simple, easy dishes. Locklear's had a following of regulars not quite like any other restaurant in town. And the secret to that success, Alston said, was respecting what they wanted to eat and giving it to them. One of those popular dishes everyone asked for was seafood pasta which became a mainstay at Locklear's.
He trained under Lance Howard, and according to Alston, he has been in love with being a chef ever since.
“It's really something I enjoy doing,” he said.
“And it's something he's really good at,” Shores added.
Shores said since he opened FINZ he's been struggling to find the right person to run the kitchen. But in Alston, who he has known for a long time, Shores said he found the same drive and mentality that he himself possesses.
“William is all about serving quality,” said Shores.
Shores, a graduate of Johnson and Wales, opened FINZ five years ago. An outdoor addition is under construction, adding additional seating and a whole new aspect to the Coleman Boulevard restaurant.
When Shores found out Locklear's was closing, hiring Alston was the first thing that came to mind.
The updated menu at FINZ will not mimic Locklear's but give those former patrons something similar. Both Alston and Shores said a number of patrons from Locklear's have heard the news and come into FINZ asking for Alston.
“They're asking for him to fix their favorite dishes from Locklear's and of course William is happy to do that if we can. As most people know, at FINZ we'll make it for you if we can,” said Shores.
All of the signature dishes from FINZ will remain, in addition to nightly specials.
“I'm excited about this new opportunity,” Alston said. “It's a different style of food and cooking and a different clientele. But it gives me the opportunity to reconnect with our former clientele as well.”
FINZ is located at 440 Coleman Blvd. in Mount Pleasant.