By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
Get our mobile app
ROCKFORD — A downtown bar and restaurant has reopened with a new concept inspired in part by the pinchos bars in the northern region of Spain.
Social Charcuterie Bar & Cocktails, 509 E. State St., marks its grand reopening tonight. It’s three years to the day that the restaurant closed under the state-mandated restrictions meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
It’s back with plans to deliver a casual and communal dining experience that focus on high-quality ingredients. There will be a selection of charcuterie boards, caviar and pinchos, which are small snack-like portions typically skewered to bread.
“We couldn’t just reopen the same thing after being down that long,” said owner Paul Sletten, who also runs the nearby sit-down restaurant Abreo and other businesses. “We needed something different than just a knife and fork restaurant.”
The cocktails people remember from Social, which opened nearly 13 years ago, are back along with some new creations, Sletten said. The communal seating format that is intended to foster engagement between customers is also still in place.
“We’re creating a place that we want to spend time at,” Sletten said. “It’s just a fun, urban place that I think needs to be in the mix of everything else happening downtown.”
Sletten says the restaurant’s focus on small savory dishes and cocktails means that for many customers Social won’t be their only stop downtown. That’s exactly what he wants.
“We want to see people bouncing place to place,” he said “We want to see them at Thai Sisters. We want to see them at Abreo. We want to see them down the street at Lima Mar. We want to see them before the concert and after the concert. We just felt another sit-down restaurant wasn’t going to help promote that.”
More news: Millennium Fountain in Rockford wasn’t made for people to get wet. That’s about to change
Sletten said he’s proud of the team assembled to run Social, which includes General Manager Adam Chappell and former Social sous chef Taylor Amidon.
“We’ve got a bunch of returning veterans and we’ve got a bunch of really new, enthusiastic staff,” Sletten said.
The menu will evolve and change over time. You can order a traditional charcuterie board with your selection of cured meats, cheese and nuts. There are different pincho options, such as one with prosciutto, crisp Parmesan, roasted red pepper and olive. And you can get caviar served with blinis, a type of pancake, and Mrs. Fisher’s potato chips.
“For some people it won’t be dinner for them,” Sletten said. “But for many, it turns into dinner. You just start ordering and you’re, like ‘I’ll have another one of those and another one of those’ … then all the sudden you’re like, ‘I’m full and I’m satisfied.'”
Fast facts | Social Charcuterie Bar & Cocktails
Where: 509 E. State St., Rockford
Hours: 5 p.m. to midnight Wednesday and Thursday; 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday and Tuesday