From the Ashes of Closed Restaurants, a Resilient City Finds its Culinary Footing
Greenville, bless its heart (more seasoning please), had always been a city with a flair for food, a Southern gem where comfort cuisine danced alongside adventurous flavors from across the globe. As the sun set each evening, the laughter and clinking glasses of diners echoed through the streets. Then, of course, the world went and got itself into a big old pandemic.
In 2020, COVID-19 muscled its way into our lives like an uninvited dinner guest, and it wasn’t just here to nibble on hors d’oeuvres. The virus left no stone unturned and no industry unscathed. Greenville, with its impressive array of eateries, was no exception. Restaurants found themselves on a treacherous, winding path, navigating lockdowns and social distancing rules that threatened to lead them off a cliff.
But now, more than three years into this calamitous adventure, Greenville’s dining scene has something to say: “You can’t keep a good city down.” The restaurants here have clawed their way back up the mountain and are once again serving good food and cheer, proving that Greenville’s spirit is as resilient as its signature pulled pork barbecue.
Sure, there’s no denying that we’ve lost some beloved culinary landmarks along the way. Spaces that once housed vibrant gatherings of friends and family now stand silent, their stories forever etched into the collective memory of Greenville. Yet, in their wake, a new generation of restaurateurs has risen like a phoenix, ready to stake their claim on the ever-shifting landscape of the dining scene.
A pandemic is a bit like a pushy life coach, forcing you to adapt, grow, and learn. Restaurants that had once relied on the hustle and bustle of in-person dining found themselves thrust into the brave new world of takeout, delivery, and outdoor dining spaces. Not an easy transition, mind you, but one that many managed to tackle with grit and determination.
Take, for instance, a new fine dining restaurant that’s popped up downtown, aptly named “Scoundrel.” Chef Joe Cash, a seasoned veteran of the culinary world, found inspiration in the face of adversity. When asked about opening “Scoundrel,” he mused, “I think what drove this restaurant is that Jocelyn (Cash’s wife) and I love being here in Greenville” (1)
Cash isn’t alone in his endeavor. New and refurbished establishments have risen from the ashes of closed restaurants, eager to play their part in the revival of Greenville’s dining scene.
The pandemic has left its mark on Greenville, but it’s not all doom and gloom. The community has rallied around their favorite eateries, offering support through crowdfunding campaigns, donations, and even volunteering their time and expertise. It seems adversity has only served to strengthen the bond between the city’s residents and their cherished dining spots.
Greenville’s dining industry isn’t out of the woods just yet. There are still challenges and mountains to climb as establishments learn to navigate the post-pandemic world. But with a renewed sense of determination and the unyielding support of their community, these restaurants and bars are ready to forge ahead and create a new chapter in the city’s culinary story.
As you meander through the streets of Greenville today, it’s hard not to be swept up in the infectious energy of the dining scene. The mouthwatering aromas drifting from the kitchens of newly-opened restaurants mingle with the lively hum of conversation that spills out from the bars, painting a picture of a city that’s found its culinary footing once more.
That’s not to say everything’s been smooth sailing or that the battle scars of the pandemic have entirely faded. Indeed, they serve as a reminder of the trials and tribulations faced by the city and its dining scene in recent years. But Greenville is nothing if not resilient – a city that embraces change and rises to meet every challenge with a twinkle in its eye and a bounce in its step.
As Greenville gazes toward the future, it does so with an air of steely determination and a sense of adventure. Here’s to the chefs, the servers, the bartenders, and the countless others who have made Greenville’s dining scene what it is today – and to the continued growth and success of this remarkable city and its people. Cheers!