Steve Palmer is the managing partner of the hospitality and consulting company, The Indigo Road Hospitality Group, and the co-founder of Ben’s Friends. The Indigo Road started in 2009 in Charleston, SC, when Palmer began working with the celebrated restaurant Oak Steakhouse on historic Broad Street. The hospitality group now owns and operates more than 16 concepts throughout the southeast. These properties include O-Ku (Charleston, Charlotte, Atlanta), The Cocktail Club (Charleston), The Macintosh (Charleston), Oak Table (Columbia, S.C.), Indaco (Charleston), Oak Steakhouse (Alpharetta, Ga., Nashville, Charlotte), Colletta (Alpharetta, Ga.), Mercantile and Mash (Charleston), Bar Mash (Charleston), The Cedar Room (Charleston), Town Hall (Florence, S.C.), The Granary (Mount Pleasant, S.C.) and Donetto (Atlanta). Several projects are also in the works including O-Ku in DC, Raleigh and Nashville, Tiny Lou’s in Atlanta and Sukoshi in Charlotte.
Palmer founded Ben’s Friends with Mickey Bakst in 2016, soon after Palmer’s friend and chef Ben Murray committed suicide after struggling with addiction. The support group was created with the intention to serve as a pathway to hope, fellowship and sobriety for those in the food-and-beverage industry struggling with substance abuse and addiction. Since its inception, Ben’s Friends has grown to now include chapters in Atlanta, Raleigh and Durham. Palmer, a James Beard Award semifinalist for Outstanding Restaurateur, has been recognized by The New York Times, NPR, Southern Living, Atlanta Magazine and Charleston Magazine for his work, and has presented at TedX Charleston and the Charleston Wine + Food Festival.