The name should make you pause, but so should the desserts. Better Than Sex – A dessert restaurant that was born out of a love for baking and a desire for a new kind of dining experience, and now that experience is coming to Greenville.
Local franchisees Shinadna Hunter-Noel and Susan Noel will open a Key West, Florida-based concept location at 23 and 25 College Street in Greenville. The restaurant will fill the room where the Cigar Boxx was once located.
Better Than Sex offers a menu of decadent desserts, as well as sophisticated cocktails, wine, and beer. (Photo: Courtesy of Better Than Sex – A Dessert Restaurant)
The dessert and cocktail concept spans five locations, with Greenville being the sixth. Additional locations are planned for Los Angeles and Nashville, said Dani Johnson, owner of Better Than Sex.
“Greenville wasn’t on the radar, but one of the things that makes us successful is getting the right people to join our team,” said Dani.
The local owners hope their restaurant will be open by spring, Hunter-Noel said. Work on remodeling the 3,400 square foot space began this week, but the search for better than sex, or BTS as it is also known, to Greenville began much earlier.
It was 2014 when Hunter-Noel and Noel were out and about in Key West, stopping at the original Better Than Sex location.
Hunter-Noel still remembers her first bite of the restaurant’s Between My Red Velvet Sheets, a combination of cheesecake and red velvet cake.
“I’m a big fan of cheesecake, but the red velvet reminded me of my grandmother because she loved to bake cakes and red velvet was her specialty,” chuckled Hunter-Noel at the memory. “So bringing these two together was amazing.”
She returned to Greenville, went to the website and emailed the owners Dani and Len Johnson. The Johnsons responded but had no franchise plans at the time.
But Hunter-Noel continued to dream about BTS and the desserts, and she regularly checked to see if anything had changed.
In 2018, the company had started the franchise and Hunter-Noel filled out an application.
It started with an oreo cake
The Better Than Sex concept was born out of a woman’s desire to please her husband. The less you are ahead of yourself, there was a desire to please over cake. Dani tells the story with ease and clear experience.
She and Len were newlyweds, and he asked her to bake something for him. Before that moment, Dani had baked here and there, mostly banana bread, but this time she went all out and hid in the kitchen for over three hours.
The result is a three-tier decorated oreo cake.
“As a new woman, I really wanted to impress,” said Dani.
The cake sparked Dani’s passion for baking, which she developed as a child and which she grew up with her mother in the kitchen. As a child, she remembers how she was doing things all the time and bringing the goodies to the neighbors.
After graduating from college, Dani started working at Bahama Breeze, where she met Len.
After the oreo cake, Dani started baking a lot more every time she recorded her recipes and what she liked and what didn’t work in a three-ring binder.
In 2008 this folder became the basis for the Better Than Sex concept.
There is a story about the name. It comes from a magazine article that mentioned that something was “better than sex”.
We joked it would be a great name for a restaurant, ”said Dani.
So began the innuendo and the fun.
“It was like this could work,” Dani said of those early brainstorming days. “It’s built into marketing and it’s not something you need, it’s something you want.”
This topic runs in BTS.
Better Than Sex is designed to offer decadent desserts and cocktails, wine and beer in an intimate setting. Everything is focused on “making you feel good, pampered and in love”.
(Photo: Better Than Sex)
While the restaurant doesn’t shy away from innuendo, the details are focused, Dani said. Everything is designed in such a way that it evokes a certain feeling and creates a relaxed mood, from interior colors (mostly red and gold) to the lighting (mostly through candlesticks) to seating that invites you to sit on the same side.
The food and drinks are supposed to enrich the ambience and maybe even make you blush. The restaurant is known for its wine and beer, a special selection of sips served in a glass dipped in chocolate or caramel. One called the French Kiss is French champagne in a caramel-coated wine glass with Bruleed sugar.
Desserts follow by names like Peanut Butter Perversion and Man Flower, along with suggestive descriptions, but they’re also complex and delicious, Dani said. Every Better Than Sex restaurant has its own chef, and everything from the restaurant’s coffee liqueur, where ladyfingers are soaked for the tiramisu-like Italian stallion dessert, to the cheesecake ice cream, which is a slice of the oreo-infused Double Stuffed Dessert, is made from scratch newly manufactured.
Additionally, the restaurant encourages customers to engage with each other and offers something called SPARK cards that list a range of questions to encourage conversation and connection.
“It’s a full experience,” said Dani.
The local restaurant will be laid out similarly to the rest of the venues, with nooks and crannies sufficient for a more intimate experience, a dimly lit room, elegant chandeliers, and rich reds and golds. The menu will also be the same, with around 15 staple foods and some seasonal specialties.
The restaurant is open in the evening. The opening times are Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 5pm to 11pm and Friday and Saturday from 5pm to midnight. For more information, please visit https://www.betterthansexdesserts.com or follow Better Than Sex – A Greenville Dessert Restaurant on social media @betterthansexgreenville.
Lillia Callum-Penso reports on groceries for the Greenville News. She loves the stories that recipes tell and finds inspiration in the people behind them. When not exploring local food, she runs, both for pleasure and to keep up with her 5 year old twins. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 864-478-5872 or on Facebook at facebook.com/lillia.callumpenso.
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