Entrepreneur: Truffles and the Price of success

pricePrice and Karen Beall at their restaurant, Truffles, which is expanding nationwide thanks to an agreement with Ruby Tuesday. “They saw what we were doing in terms of fresh food prepared daily and wanted to know how we managed to pull it off,” Price said.With three successful local restaurants and a nationwide expansion on the way, Price and Karen Beall share their fresh formula for food — and business.

I t’s safe to say that restaurateur Price Beall has always been involved with his two passions: food and wine.

Beall and his wife, Karen, are the masterminds behind Truffles, which has expanded to three locations and become an institution in Lowcountry dining — and is now looking to translate that success all across the country. “Truffles has been a work in progress,” Price said.

Price moved to the Lowcountry in the early ’80s and opened both a wine shop and a gourmet kitchen store called Second Course, which catered to foodies well before the trendy term was even coined. “It was sort of a mini-Williams-Sonoma,” said Beall.

TrufflesBut before long, he was being encouraged by island patriarch Charles Fraser to direct his energies toward opening a restaurant in Sea Pines. Fraser, the master planner and craftsman, knew that if the island was to become a world-class resort it would need not only great golf but also great cuisine.

Beall took Fraser’s advice, and opened what he calls a gourmet emporium — “a mini-Zabar’s,” he says, referring to the legendary New York establishment. Beall is the first to note that the endeavor was “probably more therapeutic than profitable,” and quickly realized he needed to make a change to improve his business.

After exploring cities such as Atlanta and collecting ideas for the shape and scope of his establishment, Beall evolved his food and wine shop into Truffles. The eatery’s first logo was a pig with wine glass and the tagline “I dig truffles,” referring to the gourmet mushroom-like delicacy. But Beall says Truffles’ most crucial and unique quality has always been its strict insistence on forgoing frozen or prepared ingredients. “Everything is made fresh from scratch every day,” Price said.

It’s a recipe that’s worked for decades. “We’re blessed with locals and regular guests from out of town,” said Beall. But though Truffles has secured its place as a Lowcountry success story, the Bealls are readying to take it to a bigger playing field. “We were contacted by Ruby Tuesday to become a quality partner about five years ago,” Beall said. “They saw what we were doing in terms of fresh food prepared daily and wanted to know how we managed to pull it off.”

TrufflesNow, thanks to that partnership, Ruby Tuesday is planning to put Truffles restaurants in cities around the country.

Beall says the couple will be involved in every aspect of each new opening, and work daily with Ruby Tuesday to ensure everything meets the stringent standards they’ve put in place over the years. Even in a tough economy, they didn’t view the potential partnership as a challenge but as a great opportunity.

“Over the past five years we have developed a great working relationship with Ruby Tuesday,” said Price. “The teams they have in place to run Truffles are the best of the best. Our baby is in great hands.”