The West Is Wild Again: Tasty New Frontiers in an Old Greenville Neighborhood
The impulse to explore the next new frontier is ingrained in the American spirit. With the West having been won centuries ago, the modern American looks to start the process anew by breathing life into forgotten urban areas. Such is the story of The Village of West Greenville, once home to Furman University’s first campus, then commercial and warehouse concerns, and finally the Brandon Mill, which still casts a long, empty shadow today.
When you enter The Village from downtown Greenville, it’s hard to escape a certain “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not on Main Street anymore.” This is hardly a bad thing. You also detect a strong sense of community on Pendleton Street. From the boxing gym offering after-school programs for area students, family businesses that have survived for generations, to the art galleries that line the streets, the air is thick with creativity and a desire to build a neighborhood for those that might not be at home on the polished and planned streets of downtown Greenville.
Like many rebuilt urban areas across the country, it all began with the art community. Looking for a place off the beaten path for local artists to channel their energy, Artbomb Studios opened in 2001, a collective of 16 studio spaces in what used to be the commissary for the Brandon Mill village. Others followed suit, opening more studios and galleries along Pendleton Street. The number of visitors to the area began to grow.
First Fridays, established by the Metropolitan Arts Council, sees the galleries of Greenville open their doors to guests on the first Friday of every month, and The Village has become the de facto capital of the event. As traffic increased, neighborhood attention turned toward making sure visitors were well-fed. Gina Petti and Roberto Cortez were one of the first to answer the call, when Asada, their Mission-style taco truck, started setting up shop in a parking lot on Pendleton Street for lunch and dinner services. Brick and mortar establishments were not far behind.
Pick Me Up
As of this year, residents and early morning visitors to The Village in need of a tasty caffeine fix have a place to call home. The Village Grind is a coffee shop dedicated to building the community with a strong emphasis on supporting local businesses. Their beans come from Due South Coffee Roasters in Taylors, their syrups are made in-house, their milk is sourced from local dairies, and their pastries are from Greenville’s LeGrand Bakery. The Village Grind also offers itself as a meeting place, because sometimes the most productive conversations happen over a cup of coffee. They decorate their walls with the works of neighborhood artists, and rotate regularly, so every visit to The Village Grind can be like seeing a new exhibit at a museum.
Naked Pasta, run by Jon Creighton and Lange Lambert, dishes out the absolute best handmade pastas in town. You can go in for lunch or pick up something delicious to bring home for dinner. Mix and match any number of flavored pastas, raviolis and sauces every night of the week, without ever eating the same dish twice. Their personal pizzas and lasagna platters are also forces to be reckoned with, fresh-made and locally sourced.
When not doing business as an artisanal pasta shop, original owner Ed Creighton (John's dad) keeps the kitchen open for other local businesses, a Jekyll and Hyde type of incarnation, but without a dark side. Alter-ego Naked Kitchen serves as a home for several members of the local food community. Adam's Mobile Market, Circa Doughnut and Harvest Moon, a new organic baby food company, all use Naked Kitchen to prepare their delicious offerings for the Upstate community.
Shannon Mercado of Circa Doughnut says she was attracted to The Village because of the unique and growing food scene. She’s thrilled that Naked Kitchen offers the opportunity for a small pop-up business like hers to be a part of it all.
A Taste of the Blues
When Upstate guitar legend Dr. Mac Arnold opened his blues club in The Village, Asada took on the brick-and-mortar kitchen in support of both the club and their food truck. They’re moving to a new location this spring, and Mac will be bringing in his own menu, effective March 1. Mac’s goal is “old-style southern food” with meat-andthree items simmering in the club’s kitchen.
As for old school, Mac says, “It’s just as easy to do it right as it is to do it wrong.” He’s doing it right by sourcing vegetables right from his own organic farm in Pelzer, and chicken, beef and pork from other local producers. This promises to be a step up in the world of meat-and-three dining.
In the beginning, Mac’s will be open for fresh, hearty lunches Tuesday through Saturday. Lighter fare will be served at the bar for happy hour. The blues will carry you through the weekend, with a free jam every Friday night and headlining acts for a modest cover charge Saturday nights.
There is even more to be excited about as The Village continues to evolve. Our own edible Upcountry contributor, certified permaculturalist, SC Master Gardener and Upstate Master Naturalist Eliza Lord is taking over The Village’s community garden project. The garden is located in the empty lot next to The Wheel, a rentable space available for meetings, concerts, classes and events.
Also, just off the main drag, Jason and Julia Scholz, of Simpsonville’s Stella’s Southern Bistro, are opening a second restaurant in The Village. The building on Lois Avenue was originally the home of Tucker’s Soda Shop, a mainstay burger and shake place in Greenville for over 50 years. They aim to carry on the location’s tradition of being a neighborhood favorite, while offering a menu distinctly different from Stella’s. During the week, the emphasis will be on breakfast and lunch, with dinner featured Friday and Saturday evenings. Despite the attention Greenville continues to receive on the national stage, Scholz does not expect this new venture to be visited by many tourists. “This restaurant is for Greenvillians,” he notes.
With so much going on and more to look forward to, The Village is quietly establishing itself as a must-visit extension of downtown Greenville. If they keep it up, however, the artists might have to find a quieter place to work…
Naked Pasta and Naked Kitchen
1286 Pendleton Street
Mac Arnold’s Blues Restaurant
1237 Pendleton Street
The Village Grind
1263 Pendleton Street
1320 Pendleton Street