Arts, Culture & Culinary Pursuits in Greenville, SC
Greenville lays claim to top-notch restaurants and arts destinations that appeal to residents of all ages.
Cherington Love Shucker, Greenville Center for Creative Arts:
After approximately 20 years living elsewhere – including a decade in Manhattan – Greenville native Cherington Love Shucker returned to her hometown with her husband, ceramic artist Darin R. Gehrke, and their daughter in 2014. Shucker says they choose Greenville because of its welcoming, family-friendly vibe, along with its vibrant arts and culture scene, which was a must for the couple.
“We knew my husband could be a successful full-time artist in Greenville,” Shucker says. “Plus, I loved the idea of raising my daughter in the place that gave me so much.”
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As Shucker was settling in to her new life, she was approached by a group of Greenville locals who were interested in opening an arts center that would be a hub for the visual arts and offer year-round art classes for children and adults. The group, now known as the founding members of the nonprofit Greenville Center for Creative Arts, asked her to take on the role of executive director, which Shucker says has been a perfect fit for her.
“I moved back to Greenville with the mantra ‘I want to affect positive change in my hometown,’ and being part of the Greenville Center for Creative Arts has been a wonderful way for me to do just that,” Shucker says.
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Open since May 2015, the center is situated in the recently revitalized Brandon Mill in the Village of West Greenville that is considered by many to be the community’s primary arts district, thanks to its dozens of galleries and artists’ studios.
“The Village of West Greenville is a walkable community with fabulous restaurants, residential properties, retailers and art galleries galore,” Shucker says. “Artists have seen the potential of this area, and they are unleashing their creativity.”
Mary Walsh, Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery:
The Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery, open since September of 2011, is often credited with helping to spark Greenville’s local food revolution – and for good reason.
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According to Mary Walsh, who opened the dining destination and food hub with Jacqueline (Jac) Oliver, there wasn’t anything quite like it in Greenville at the time. The duo wanted to provide a place where residents could purchase foods produced by area farmers and support a sustainable food system, and after finding the right spot – a building on the famed Swamp Rabbit Trail near downtown Greenville – their shared vision came to life.
“We source food from more than 200 farmers each year, and about 90 percent of those farmers are within a half-hour drive from us,” Walsh says. “More than anything, we’re focused on the relationships we have with farmers, and we’re proud to buy directly from them.”
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The Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery, named the Greenville Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Small Business of the Year, has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception and is now home to a wood-fired pizza restaurant, an artisan bakery, a whole animal butchery and a space for cooking classes, as well as an expanded grocery store. Walsh says their growth and success is due in large part to the community’s strong support, along with residents’ growing interest in local food.
“The local food movement is really gaining ground in Greenville,” Walsh says. “Many people in our community understand the importance of buying local and supporting farmers, and more and more restaurants are opening with a focus on serving locally produced foods.”
Greg McPhee, The Anchorage:
An integral part of Greenville’s thriving and growing food scene, The Anchorage opened in the Village of West Greenville in January of 2017.
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Husband-and-wife team Greg and Beth McPhee, the restaurant’s owners, were attracted to the village’s strong arts community, and they’ve found quick success in the neighborhood with a focus on sourcing local ingredients and serving up small plates, craft cocktails and beer, and sustainable wine.
“We work with about 18 producers in the area for produce and protein, and we have connections with GrowFood Carolina in Charleston [a food hub connecting local farmers with local buyers] and New Appalachia in Boone [purveyors of local, organic and unique food], so we’re able to access about 350 farms between North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and eastern Tennessee,” says Greg, who also serves as The Anchorage’s executive chef.
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Named a semifinalist in the category of Best New Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation in 2018, The Anchorage is one of Greenville’s newest foodie favorites – but according to Greg, the community is just getting started when it comes to quality culinary offerings.
“We’re starting to see a more eclectic variety of restaurants in Greenville,” Greg says. “There’s a strong push for fast-casual places with the same mentality you’d normally find in a fine dining setting, focusing on sustainable products and healthy menu items, and we have a fast-growing craft beer scene that adds to Greenville’s appeal as a place to enjoy food and drink. Our community is definitely gaining notoriety across the country, which is exciting for us, and I think Greenville is poised for more recognition as it continues to grow and evolve.”