Richard Thomasson spent 25 years in financial services before he decided to delve into the restaurant business.
“About eight years ago, I decided to become a little more entrepreneurial and take some chances, so this is just another progression in my life,” said the 58-year-old who opened Bohemian Bull at 2668 N. Highway 17 in Mount Pleasant in April.
The James Island resident said he chose the Bohemian Bull franchise, which also has locations in Greenville and Mauldin, because it gave the businessman the autonomy to control how the place is run, while requiring only that he hew to menu standardization.
Related content: Here’s a look at Greenville’s newest downtown restaurant
Related content: California retailer to open King Street store in downtown Charleston
“I’m not interested in creating a menu —they brought that to me so that I can be out in the front,” said Thomasson. For those curious about the appellation, Bohemian Bull’s franchisor, Chad Biel, says it’s named in homage to the burger-centric menu and the carefree, easy-going, bohemian culture of James Island, home of the first Bohemian Bull franchise.
Thomasson said that he chose the Mount Pleasant area due to its vibrancy. “It’s a great, growing community and was recently named an All-America City by the National Civic League,” he said.
Bohemian Bull is known first and foremost for its burgers. This is evident in a blog entry that spans two entire pages to educate the public on why theirs exceed the standard. Among them are the use of black Angus beef, along with a mixture of brisket and chuck that’s always freshly ground and made fresh to order.
“We get slammed on half-price burger day, which is every Wednesday,” said Thomasson, explaining how the popularity of the weekly special initially took a little getting used to. “Everybody has a plan, until they get hit in the face. We had a brand-new crew of 70 employees when all of a sudden, there were 450 people jostling to get in,” he said.
The Bull, which is open for lunch and dinner, also offers dishes like steak frites, fish and chips, Reubens, fried chicken, wings, salads and wraps. “People tell me that our onion rings are the best in Charleston,” said Thomasson.
Bohemian Bull also offers a full bar, with an impressive bourbon list (80 and counting), craft cocktails like the key lime margarita and the strawberry frosé, along with a selection of wine and 27 rotating craft beers.
Thomasson said that the restaurant is designed to be fun for every member of the family.
“Dad can come in and watch a game while mom and the kids head out back to listen to live music,” he said, adding that he hopes that sprawling eatery is one that can be viewed as a destination for not only locals, but tourists as well.
What Thomasson also liked about the ambitious project is that he didn’t have to start from scratch. “It’s difficult to find a building that was conceived to be a restaurant, but this one operated as an old Carrabba’s, so the kitchen is luxuriously big,” he said.
The Bull accommodates 120 inside and a screened porch seats 40 more. An outdoor area, shaded by an oak tree, seats 35 additional diners and plans are in the works to accommodate more.
“We’ll also be adding Bocce ball courts, a stage for live music and a biergarten deck,” said Thomasson, who is buoyed so much by the success of the restaurant that he’s considering opening another one at some point. “Another one may be in the works. We’ll just have to see,” he said.
Stephanie Kalina-Metzger is a contributing writer for SC Biz News.