I have been a regular at Kudu since 2008 when I first moved to downtown Charleston, two blocks away. The espresso has always been on the better side for Charleston, and the outdoor seating area is an atypical bonus for a downtown coffee shop in Charleston. Through 2009, I attended Kudu daily to study for medical school - wireless was free and the ambiance both inside and out was pleasant.
Kudu then changed ownership. While the espresso remained high-quality, the ambiance quickly declined as the new owners removed the beautiful African decor that the original proprietors were particularly found of. Unfortunately, they replaced the lost decor slowly... I didn't take to the new minimalist look, so I decreased my attendance to once a week. I continued to go simply due to the convenience of Kudu's location and the simple fact that it is better than Starbucks. Further, I do my best to support local, non-chain businesses.
Within the last 2 years, Kudu has begun selling craft, draft beer. My wife and I are both craft beer connoisseurs, so we used this as a reason to visit Kudu more frequently - typically on our way to dinner, etc. While the beer selection is small, it tends to be of high quality with a decent local representation.
Unfortunately, several events/changes have lead us to ban Kudu from our weekly downtown outings:
1) The new owners have slowly been withdrawing access to their wifi putatively due to "crowding". This signifies that they don't desire to be part of the local academic culture present in the immediate community, but instead they are focussed on keeping their customers and profits on a continuously revolving door.
2) The culture at Kudu has slowly shifted away from having a high-ratio of professionals, making it more difficult to make spontaneous, good conversation.
***3) My wife and I have never been treated with more contempt, anywhere, than by one of the newer employees at Kudu. We were enjoying some beer and tea there last week when a highly-anxious employee barked at us to show ID. (I have a greying beard and my wife is clearly a woman of age to drink.) While this was disturbance enough to send us off, the employee escalated the situation. I had left my wallet at home (of course a mistake), so I offered to return with it regardless of the fact that my age was clearly visible. Instead of accepting my offer like a professional, the employee grabbed my beverage from me and threw it in the bushes! I asked him to refund our purchase, but he merely walked off while instructing us to leave. We were frightened by the employee's erratic behavior, so we left without hesitation. I interpret this too as an establishment that is more intent on myopic monetary gain and not customer retention.
I've tried contacting the owners to alert them of this employee, but I have not heard from them in days, so I suspect they do not intend to address this. I can only hope that this review serves as a warning that the climate in Kudu is currently changing for the worse.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.