Street Meet American Take-Out & Tavern
Author: Kitty Bartell | Photographer: M.Kat Photography
Change is inevitable and necessary for communities and community-based businesses to survive and thrive. Carey Basciano, owner of Street Meet American Take-Out & Tavern on Hilton Head Island thinks about this—a lot. His neighborhood eatery, located in Port Royal Plaza on the island’s north end, is a bit like an incubator of change, where he is meeting the ever-evolving desires of his customers. “People love to give you their advice,” he said. “What happens with local business is that the management is the same as the ownership, and so change can be almost immediate. We vote every single day by how we spend our money.” Basciano and his team understand that listening to what their customers want creates the kind of energy and reaction time necessary to grow the business.
The benefits to those reaction times are immediate and measurable. The 3/50 Project®, a pro-local business group focused on, “saving the brick and mortars our nation is built on,” cites U.S. Labor Department statistics related to the benefits inherent in supporting indie businesses: For every $100 spent in a locally-owned independent store, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, and other expenditures. If that money is spent in a national chain, only $43 stays local. Spend it online and nothing comes home.
Basciano was raised in Youngstown, Ohio, where he spent his formative years witnessing the collapse of the mighty steel industry. “I saw one of the country’s most extreme examples of what happens to a community when a business fails.
That’s ingrained in me. That’s why I’m here,” he said. Making decisions for his business that directly impact his customers, his family, and his employees is what appeals most to Basciano, “All the employees know that, because we are a family-owned business, my family depends on the success of this. So when we discuss things, they know without question, that the decisions I make are best for the business. Step one is me knowing what my customers want and having the desire to satisfy that.”
Local character and community well-being go hand-in-hand, Basciano said.
“Anything that is born in this community, that is local and that survives is a reflection of this community. Street Meet isn’t a reflection of me; we’re an example of what Hilton Head wants.”
According to The Institute for Local Self-Reliance, small businesses like Street Meet create their own unique footprint, giving them a distinct economic advantage in an increasingly homogenized world.
The Street Meet menu is loaded with local character, from the Cleveland Polish Boy (grilled kielbasa topped with French fries, barbecue sauce and coleslaw with a side of homemade chips) to the Power Bowls and Skinny Bowls from their newest selections, created to meet the needs of their fitness, training, health-focused customers.
Statistically speaking, keeping dollars in the local economy emphatically support building a network of mom-and-pop shops; when those dollars intersect with the workforce, quality of living is improved for everyone. At Street Meet, that includes his wife Shelby Basciano, the restaurant’s administrator, their daughters ages 10, 12, and 14, general manager and sister Nicole Basciano, along with their family of employees. “Our greatest asset is our people; it is our employees. One of the benefits of living on Hilton Head Island is a better quality of life—for me and my employees,” Basciano said. “We know each other. We become like family. We have a team of people who are upbeat and vibrant and who work well together and get stuff done; that whole personality comes from the kitchen and transfers out to the servers, and then the guests see it. They taste it in the food. With happy employees, you create that kind of environment.”
Another dividend of an independently-owned, neighborhood business is the public gain. “We’re building in community nights at the restaurant,” Basciano said of their ability to respond to needs in their neck of the woods. “If you want to have a [fundraising] function that you co-market, we’ll donate a percentage of our profits on that night back to your event.” Street Meet will donate 10 percent of the total revenue generated during an event to the cause. Also, a great place to watch sports while enjoying their choice food and beverage menus, customers may reserve the 72-inch TV in the “graffiti” room, where their one-of-a-kind wall mural provides a dynamic backdrop to the experience—not to mention great photo ops.For a $100 donation, your alumni association, family, or friends get full access to the big screen for the big game. Each donation is funneled directly to the restaurant’s non-profit neighbor, Program for Exceptional People (PEP). Street Meet is also a devoted supporter of local schools and organizations, along with the Island Rec Center.
As the larger world runs at a faster and faster clip, with the number of decisions we have to make every day, Basciano is thinking about a way to clear away the clutter and confusion, create positive change wherever you call home, and support healthy, local competition. “When you look at the news and pay attention to national and international events, it can be overwhelming. The only thing you control is yourself. You can change, and then you can change your community, and then the world changes,” he said.
Remember, one is the number of people it takes to start a trend: you.
Street Meet is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to midnight at 95 Mathews Drive, Suite #D11, Hilton Head Island. For more information, please call (843) 842-2570 or visit streetmeethhi.com.