About Cru Cafe

It's the Holy City's Hidden Gem! Cru Café is Charleston's home to some of the best gourmet comfort food in the Lowcountry. Cru Café is the culinary creation of renowned Le Cordon Bleu graduate, Chef John Zucker. Opened in 2002 in response to overwhelming demand, Cru Café is a culinary destination off the beaten path in in a classic 18th century Charleston single-style home. Cru Café and its award-winning Cru Catering division are consistently ranked as top eateries by locals and tourists alike. From our famous Four Cheese Macaroni to our tasty Thai Seafood Risotto, we feature something for everyone. And if you're in the mood for lighter fare, try our Chinese Chicken Salad or Duck Confit Salad. Guests of the restaurant can enjoy daily specials, indoor and outdoor porch seating, a wine list tailored to the varied menu and rich, mouthwatering desserts. We invite to stop in and enjoy a delicious meal with us today.

18 Pinckney Street
Charleston, SC 29401
View Larger Map

Dining Style:
Casual Dining

Cuisines:
Comfort Food, Fusion / Eclectic, Southern

Hours of Operation:
Lunch: Tuesday - Saturday: 11:00am - 3:00pm; Dinner: Tuesday - Thursday: 5:00pm - 10:00pm, Friday & Saturday: 5:00pm - 11:00pm

Cross Street:
East Bay St

Dress Code:
Casual Dress

Price Range:
$30 and under

Payment Options
AMEX, Diners Club, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

Phone Number:
(843) 534-2434

Website:
http://www.crucafe.com/

Entertainment:
Private Upstairs Dinning Room available for up to 18 people.

Catering:
Voted Charleston's best caterer consecutively since 2001 by the Charleston City Paper, our Cru Catering branch offers full service customized catering, in-house personal chefs, corporate catering, receptions, weddings and private parties. Please contact us at 843-534-2433.
www.crucatering.com

Parking Details:
Cru Cafe does NOT offer parking. The gravel lot across the street is owned and operated by Palmetto Carriage Company. There is a public parking deck located off Pinckney Street behind the Bank of America building. The address is 200 Meeting Street.

Executive Chef:
John Zucker

Additional:
Banquet, Beer, Cafe, Chef's Table, Counter Seating, Farm to Table, Non-Smoking, Outdoor dining, Outdoor Smoking Area, Private Room, Takeout, Wine

Cru Cafe Ratings and Reviews

5
4
3
2
1

4.8

Overall Rating

based on recent ratings
food

4.8

service

4.7

ambience

4.4

value

4.5

noise

Moderate

98% would recommend it to a friend

Creative Cuisine (80)
Local Ingredients (77)
Neighborhood Gem (68)
See All
Cozy (65)
Great for Lunch (65)
Fit for Foodies (65)
Open Kitchen (57)
Casual (56)
Good for a Date (51)
Special Occasion (46)
Good for Anniversaries (44)
Comfort Food (40)
Authentic (37)
Historic (34)
Good for Birthdays (31)
Romantic (30)
Fun (26)
Great for Outdoor Dining (25)
Worth the Drive (24)
Healthy (20)
Sunday Lunch (20)
Outstanding Value (14)
Hot Spot (13)
Quiet Conversation (12)
Business Meals (11)
Pre/post Theatre (10)
Great for Brunch (9)
Tasting Menu (9)
Good Vegetarian Options (9)
Gluten Free Options (9)
Good for Groups (7)
Seasonal (7)
Organic (5)
Tapas (5)
People Watching (5)
Quick Bite (5)
Family Style (5)
Bar Seating (4)
Molecular Gastronomy (4)
Notable Wine List (4)
Vegan (3)
Great Beer (3)
Afternoon Coffee (3)
Kid-friendly (3)
Afternoon Tea (2)
Fireplace (2)
Modern Decor (2)
Happy Hour (2)
Wood Oven (1)
Scenic View (1)
Late-night Find (1)
Private Room (1)
Vibrant Bar Scene (1)
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2959 reviews
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vip
 (Washington DC)·Dined 2 days ago

I was seated about 10 minutes beyond my lunch reservation time, but it was worth the wait/delay. I sat at the counter facing the kitchen...best seat in the house. Great service and great food. What more does one need?

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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Greensboro)·Dined 5 days ago

The venue was perfect! The menu and food was amazing! To complete, the server was most engaging and informative! We diverted to him in many cases from the wine selection, appetizer and entrees and he never steered us wrong!!!

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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

vip
 (New York Area)·Dined 5 days ago

Loved this place. Off the beaten path. Food great. At a communal table and met lovely people. Great server as well.

Tags: Good for Anniversaries, Open Kitchen, Fun, Historic, Special Occasion, Local Ingredients, Hot Spot
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Raleigh)·Dined 5 days ago

Loved this restaurant! Service was fantastic as was the food. I highly recommend it!

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Good for Anniversaries, Good for Birthdays, Romantic, Historic
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Atlantic City)·Dined 6 days ago

Went for lunch on a Saturday, glad I made reservations because it was plenty busy. Food was delicious and the service was great! Definitely will come back and recommend this to friends!

Tags: Neighborhood Gem, Great for Lunch
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience4
service5
value4

 
 (Detroit)·Dined 6 days ago

The food is good, but there is a lot of amazing food in Charleston, and the ambiance and service at the Cru Cafe leave a great deal to be desired. When we arrived for our lunch reservations, it was very unclear where we were to go to check in. A man, rushing in and out of the restaurant (porch and indoor seating), said something that sounded like "be right with you." Since he was rushing and did not really look at us, we were not certain he was addressing us and what he said. He eventually, but not promptly, returned and took our name, while we stood in a corner trying to stay out of the way of the bustling staff. He gestured toward a table with a family and said those people were finishing up, so our table would be ready shortly. The host disappeared again, and we stood there for a while. The table was cleared. Still no host. A friendly lady approached us and welcomed us to the restaurant. She then gestured toward that same table and said "it looks like your table is ready!" Then she walked in that direction, so we presumed we were to follow her. We sat down and the waitress came over and accused us of taking the table. We told her we had reservations and were instructed to sit there. She asked if "Todd" told us to sit there, and we said we didn't know who Todd was, so she ran off to make sure we were allowed to sit there. It was incredibly awkward and embarrassing. It turned out we were in the table that was reserved for us, so the humiliation was completely unnecessary. The rest of our visit went okay, but the waitress was very rushy and disappeared a lot, so the environment was just really unwelcoming and unpleasant.

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food4
ambience1
service2
value2

vip
 (Atlanta)·Dined 6 days ago

I've been having lunch here for several years now. Every visit has been a great experience. The staff is wonderful and always accommodating. The food is simply amazing. Big thanks to Nate and Fawn for everything!

Tags: Worth the Drive, Outstanding Value, Local Ingredients, Great for Lunch
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Charleston)·Dined 6 days ago

Absolutely delicious - everything we tried was fantastic. We were seated 10 minutes before our reservation time, and the host was friendly and courteous. You must get the fried green tomatoes! The only reason I can't give Cru Cafe 5 stars is because of one server. When we ordered a variety of small plates and appetizers so we could taste all of the things our friends had recommended that we taste, she remarked, "Oh, no entrees? No wine, either?" I was visiting with my underage daughter, and we had a 30 minute drive ahead of us, so of course I wasn't drinking. We ordered 7 items, hardly inappropriate. One dish was set on top of a plate,and as we picked it up, it slid off and landed on the floor. Despite our apologies, the server said, "Oh, that's *hilarious*. I don't know how I'm supposed to clean that up. I've never seen anything like this, and I've been doing this a long time." Another server and the host were both gracious and immediately told us that it was fine, then brought out another dish, but this server's attitude was completely inappropriate. We'd been looking forward to our visit all week, and this soured us on the restaurant immediately. That said, I'd give it another try but request not to be served by that person.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Fun, Comfort Food, Neighborhood Gem, Good for Birthdays
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food5
ambience5
service2
value5

 
 (Charleston)·Dined on March 17, 2017

We enjoy the local and seasonal menu and know the meal will always be a great one.
This is a restaurant you can count on to be a people pleaser. We take our out-of-town friends here and they are always exuberant about their meal.

Tags: Creative Cuisine, Fit for Foodies, Historic, Good for a Date, Authentic, Casual, Cozy, Local Ingredients, Good for Anniversaries
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Kansas City)·Dined on March 16, 2017

Luckily we had reservations, as the cafe was busy the night we went. I started with a Caesar salad, and it was one of the best I've had. The dressing wasn't the thick, gloppy stuff you usually get. It was light with a delicate taste of anchovy and garlic. My husband had the blue crab soup, and it was equally tasty. The short ribs were his choice, and he hit a winner with the deep, rich beefy flavor of the ribs and the great sides that came with them. I opted for the poblano & mozzarella fried chicken, which was disappointing. I was looking for Southern cooking while in Charleston, and I though this would be a great twist. It's a pounded breast with the chili and cheese wrapped inside, then the whole thing fried. Chicken breast is bland, and I was hoping the chili would add some flavor, but there wasn't much chili and it's too mild to offset the basic taste of chicken. I almost never order chicken, and I should have stuck with that rule. If you love chicken breast, this might be great for you. Nonetheless, this is a great place to eat, with helpful staff.

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food4
ambience5
service5
value4

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on March 16, 2017

Delicious food, soothing environment, clean and excellent service

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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (New York Area)·Dined on March 16, 2017

Loved our experience at Cru Cafe. The staff was friendly and helpful. The food was delicious. The fried green tomatoes were outstanding. I've never ordered these when I was out to dinner as I didn't think they were anything too special. But since they were mentioned in previous reviews, I decided to try them. All I can say is that for the rest of my visit to Charleston, the only food I could think of was these tomatoes! You must have them if you go there for dinner! I also had the pork chop which was huge and wonderful. I would definitely go back to this restaurant again. It is very small, so make sure you get reservations.

Tags: Special Occasion, Creative Cuisine, Good for Birthdays, Good for a Date, Authentic, Quiet Conversation, Neighborhood Gem, Cozy, Open Kitchen, Business Meals, Fit for Foodies, Sunday Lunch, Romantic
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Charleston)·Dined on March 15, 2017

What a delicious and succulent surprise! We have been living in the Charleston area for more than five years and it was not until this past month that we finally made a reservation for Cru Café. We love good food, we love great quality food, we are kind of foodies… and Cru Café was a flavorful delight! We had the best server, ever! Blond big guy with a beard, you were great! We started the meal with the Fried Green Tomatoes that did come with “crumbles” of perfectly roasted or fried pork and topped with a caramel sauce. It was accompanied by the freshest feta cheese over greens. After that we ordered the seafood risotto and the special of the day: a handsomely sized short rib over fingerling potatoes and kale. Let me tell you, that kale was prepared in heaven! Divine! The risotto was very good, but we thought it needed an extra pinch of salt (which by the way they provided.) For dessert we ordered the bread pudding (made out of brioche bread) and a cheese cake with macerated strawberries. Hands down, the bread pudding was the winner! Do not hesitate to make that reservation, you will not be disappointed!

Tags: Healthy, Authentic, Neighborhood Gem, Business Meals, Fit for Foodies, Local Ingredients, Comfort Food, Great Beer, Creative Cuisine
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Charleston)·Dined on March 15, 2017

As always, Cru Cafe didn't disappoint! We waited a bit to be seated even though we had reservations but it is always worth the wait. We make a point to eat at Cru whenever we are in town. One of our faves!

Tags: Comfort Food, Good for a Date, Great for Lunch, Healthy, Local Ingredients, Creative Cuisine, Good Vegetarian Options, Casual, Gluten Free Options
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Birmingham)·Dined on March 15, 2017

Very nice food!

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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Charlotte)·Dined on March 15, 2017

Always terrific. Crowded and delightfully noisey. It's all about the food and it's worth every bite. Go see for yourself you will become a regular.

Tags: Neighborhood Gem, Fit for Foodies, Local Ingredients, Creative Cuisine, Healthy, Fun
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Jacksonville)·Dined on March 15, 2017

Great food and super service. Very tasty shrimp BLT.

Tags: Sunday Lunch, Great for Lunch, Good for Birthdays, Afternoon Coffee
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

vip
 (Washington DC)·Dined on March 15, 2017

A Southern gentleman once told me, "You can judge a chef by the soup." I think he was right.

Our meal started with one of the soups of the day, a cabbage and pastrami delight. The beef broth base was amazing, peppery from the pastrami. The cabbage wasn't really much in evidence except as a base layer of flavor. If I could have licked the bowl I would have.

I got the local fish, served simply, yet the plating was terrific. A line of emulsified beet bordered the plating.

Our server could not have been more friendly and helpful, as was everyone else. It would be better to come when it is warm enough to sit on the porch.

The restaurant is small so reserve well in advance!!

Tags: Open Kitchen, Fun, Local Ingredients
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food5
ambience3
service5
value4

 
 (Charleston)·Dined on March 15, 2017

Food wasn't as good as previous visits- maybe going during weeknight made the neg. difference

Tags: Seasonal
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food3
ambience4
service4
value3

 
 (St. Louis)·Dined on March 14, 2017

My sister & 2 cousins visited Charleston and we had a wonderful dinner at Cru Cafe. We had reservations and had to wait about 15 minutes but we were in no hurry and were served wine while we waited. We loved all the people we met at Cru and they were very attentive and fun! Appetizers of fried Brie and fried green tomatoes were deliciously prepared. All our dinners were flavorful and beautiful --beef short ribs, poblano fried chicken and Thai seafood risotto. The flourless chocolate tart was shared for dessert. We would recommend this place to anyone. Just a wonderful & tasty experience!

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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Central Coast)·Dined on March 11, 2017

Cru was a recommendation from a local source. Food and service were outstanding. The dining room is small but comfortable. The corkage fee was only $15 and that plus the prices made it a great value.

Tags: Comfort Food, Open Kitchen, Neighborhood Gem, Casual, Outstanding Value
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food5
ambience3
service5
value5

 
 (Charlotte)·Dined on March 11, 2017

Make reservations early, we learned that last trip to Charleston. Also, the last trip the place was soo busy and people waiting that when i walked in, no one acknowledge me, we left. Later that night I met the sous Chef "I am a Chef in Charlotte" and we talked a little shop. Somehow his resturant came up. I told him of our experience, he immediately called someone and got us at the Chef table the next day "pretty cool". That was hospitality at it's finest! The food was spot on and the place has a cool southern vibe. Now on the this trip. The waitress told of the soups of the day and the special. I wanted a cup of both soups "she stopped me and said can only have cup with 1/2 sandwich and soup". Hmmm I thought, then I said fine I will take both soups and you can split the sandiwch du jour "again I was told that cannot be done, only the menu sandwiches" WTF people, money is no object charge me I don't care, but that was just wrong. Please re-evaluate your perspective on what to or not to sell. Now about the food, I got the special anyway and ordered a bowl of soup "even though I wanted both" soup tomato bisque was good nothing special. But the sandwich on nice crusty sliced bread, fresh pulled mozzarella, capicolla, aand the other finishing ingredients AWSOME!!! So theres my 2 cents. Will we go back you ask? absolutely of course!

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Historic
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food5
ambience5
service4
value5

 
·Dined on March 10, 2017

Food took a long time and felt slightly ignored by the server but the manager paid attention and worked very hard to make it right. Food was incredible and worth the wait!

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food5
ambience5
service3
value5

 
 (Charleston)·Dined on March 10, 2017

We always eat here at least once when we are in town, always wonderful, plan ahead and get those reservations early. Handmade gnocchi is like butter. Yum

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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

vip
 (Atlanta)·Dined on March 10, 2017

Amazing food & hospitality. We sat at the chef's table & had a great experience! Will be back.

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food5
ambience5
service5

 
 (Chicago)·Dined on March 9, 2017

Our server Johnny was great! Very attentive, fun to talk with and great recommendations. Although it is a small venue, we didn't feel rushed. Scallops, pork chops and their desserts were all delicious! A must on your foodie travels!

Tags: Organic, Creative Cuisine, Special Occasion, Gluten Free Options, Good for Anniversaries, Seasonal, Romantic, Good Vegetarian Options, Cozy, Local Ingredients
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

vip
 (New England)·Dined on March 9, 2017

Great food. Need reservations. Ambience could be better.

Tags: Comfort Food
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food5
ambience3
service4
value4

 
 (Philadelphia)·Dined on March 9, 2017

One of the best lunches I've ever had, great food and service. Green fried tomatoes are awesome!

Tags: Authentic, Great for Lunch, Local Ingredients
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food5
ambience4
service5
value4

 
 (New York Area)·Dined on March 9, 2017

We initially thought we could not find something to eat in the menu but the owner and manager assured us they would Taylor dishes to our requests. Very accommodating to our dietary restrictions.

Tags: Good Vegetarian Options, Healthy, Vegan
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food5
ambience3
service5
value4

 
 (Charleston)·Dined on March 8, 2017

great food in a relaxed and friendly setting but noise level high when tables are full

Tags: Local Ingredients, Casual
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food4
ambience4
service5
value5

 
 (Raleigh)·Dined on March 8, 2017

One of the best spots in Charleston! Amazing food, great atmosphere, very special.

Tags: Casual, Neighborhood Gem, Open Kitchen, Worth the Drive, Special Occasion, Good for Anniversaries
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Charleston)·Dined on March 8, 2017

Very busy but we seated promptly. We selected 1/2 turkey club and the mushroom with truffle oil and the short rib pastrami sandwich. All were excellent!

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food5
ambience4
service5
value5

vip
 (Charleston)·Dined on March 8, 2017

Fabulous has always! Had to wait 20 mins even though we made reservation, but management and the servers apologized and made us very comfortable. The food is amazing- Chinese chicken salad and truffle fries are to die for!

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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Tampa)·Dined on March 5, 2017

First time dining with you, the server was great,the food absolutely delicious!! Thank you!

Tags: Good for Birthdays, Quiet Conversation, Special Occasion
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Boise)·Dined on March 5, 2017

Very good food with a creative twist. Worth going there despite the fact that it is a very small space and the seating is quite tight. No private conversations possible! Reasonable prices for the high quality of the food.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, People Watching, Cozy, Creative Cuisine, Local Ingredients, Outstanding Value, Open Kitchen, Healthy
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food4
ambience4
service4
value5

vip
 (Charleston)·Dined on March 4, 2017

Amazing is only the beginning. The food is creating and ingenious. Service and attention to detail is impeccable Is Was so not what I expected . They elevate fried chicken to something unrecognizable that tastes better than any I've ever had . Don't miss it . If you're lucky enough and you're a foodie try and sit at the chefs table

Tags: Historic, Bar Seating, Casual, Creative Cuisine, Open Kitchen
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food5
ambience4
service5
value5

 
 (Detroit)·Dined on March 4, 2017

We came to celebrate my birthday. Reservations are a must due to the quaintness of the restaurant. The four of us shared the entree size Mesclun fried goat cheese salad. It was just OK. The entrees, however, were AMAZING!!! We had the Tumeric-Spiced Local Fish (Tile), Duck breast, Beef short rib, Thai seafood risotto and a side of the Four cheese Macaroni. We somehow managed to save room for one Bread pudding to complete our meal! Did I mention that it was Amazing??!!! Cru has now become my favorite restaurant in Charleston!!!!

Tags: Good for Birthdays, Special Occasion, Good for Anniversaries, Good for a Date, Fit for Foodies
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (New York Area)·Dined on March 4, 2017

We thoroughly enjoyed our meal. One of our favorites in Charleston.

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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on March 3, 2017

We enjoyed the food which was well cooked with good portions and interesting side dishes. The ambience was acceptable but not special, but you don't eat ambience. The service was friendly and they had a very nice selection of beers.

Tags: Cozy, Good for Birthdays
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food5
ambience4
service5
value4

vip
 (Atlanta)·Dined on March 3, 2017

Excellent night at the kitchen view table.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Open Kitchen, Bar Seating, Local Ingredients, Authentic, Fun, Creative Cuisine
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

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