Lesley Carroll of Jack of Cups reflects on the loss of The ’Wich Doctor’s talented and enigmatic chef and co-owner Jeff Butler
By Lesley Carroll | Contributing Writer
Jeff Butler, chef and co-owner of The ’Wich Doctor on Folly Beach passed away on September 9, 2018. His wife and business partner Krista Hines informed the many fans of his passing on social media and the Charleston culinary world mourned the loss of an innovator and talented chef who cooked with both passion and skill. Butler helped bring a more ambitious and creative food scene to our little island. No one knows this more than Jack of Cups executive chef and co-owner Lesley Carroll. Therefore, the Folly Current felt it would only be appropriate to have her write a few words about Butler and what he meant to her and our island.
The day we signed the lease for Jack of Cups, we went to The ‘Wich Doctor to celebrate. The day we got the keys to 34 Center St. we went to The ‘Wich Doctor again. The next two weeks, we went to lunch or picked up dinner there until we got embarrassed for showing up so often. It was exactly what we wanted every day.
Butler and Krista were two of the first people we met on Folly as new business owners. It was daunting, being the new people in town in an obviously tightknit community. They took time to talk with us each time we were there, asked and answered questions. Gave advice, and we lightheartedly talked about the unique struggles of small business, and being in a partnership with your partner in life. We felt welcomed.
Every now and again, we’d talk food philosophy. Butler was staunch in his preparations, which I always respected. He was unwilling to modify some things, and he said his choices on seasoning, spice, or ingredients were deliberate. When you tasted his food, you believed that statement. This was his art, and he obviously cared very much about it. Butler and Krista created something big together that took hard work, sacrifice, and so very many hours of labor and grit that no one sees.
Folly Beach is so special in sometimes intangible ways. So many people make up this community, subtly making it hum. The days and the seasons breathe in and out and we get busy, we get slow, but we always rely on the steadiness of this island. When we lose someone here, it shakes us. The loss is very palpable, even if you only knew that person briefly, or in passing.
The bars and restaurants here hold inside of them the spirit of celebration, of commiseration, triumph, good days, tragic days, and milestone days. I hope the memories inside of The ‘Wich Doctor will comfort Butler’s family and his friends that were closest to him. I know I’ll always remember and be grateful for our first days in that building, getting our first glimpse of the solid community where we now feel at home.