Receiving a big-time offer to work for High Cotton in Charleston, and subsequently turning it down, gave Greenville chef Austyn McGroarty the confidence to move forward with his own concept.
That started with a catering company a year and a half ago, but if all goes as planned, a brick-and-mortar restaurant, Woodside Bistro, will open in early 2019 at 1112 Woodside Ave. in City View, the area between Swamp Rabbit Cafe & Grocery and the Woodside Cotton Mill Historic District.
Currently, Woodside Bistro is a partnership between McGroarty, chef Ken Frazier; Brad Armstrong, who is director of operations and front of the house manager; and Cliff Carden, the registered agent of the building’s owner, CB Holdings and Investments LLC.
McGroarty and Frazier currently run Premiere Party Catering, which will continue to operate out of the restaurant after it opens.
The 49-seat bistro will be open initially from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays, so the catering company can still operate at full capacity on the weekends; but McGroarty says he plans to eventually add dinner service, as well.
Carden, whose LLC closed on the 1,300-square-foot building in late May, says a goal for this restaurant is to be a part of the community.
“It was formerly a restaurant, and we wanted to keep it that way,” he says. “That is a foothold for a community — a place where they can go grab a meal.”
McGroarty, who worked his way up from fast food at Carolina Fine Foods to fine dining at Halls Chophouse Greenville, plans to keep the menu simple and approachable.
“We want it be something the guy on the street there can come in and have a meal,” Carden says. “We would like to see everybody, from the guy who lives next door on up to the mayor.”
That menu includes no more than 10 items daily, with a burger, other sandwiches, salads, and other comfort food, McGroarty says.
McGroarty and Frazier met in 2014 while both worked at Whistle Stop at the American Cafe in Travelers Rest and remained in contact after McGroarty moved on to a few other places before they started Premiere.
Carden says he believes this is the right concept for the business to be viable because of the combination of the catering business being fully operational and McGroarty’s and Frazier’s years of experience working in kitchens.
All of that combined has allowed them to apply for funding from the Greenville County Redevelopment Authority that supports small businesses in areas in need of financial investment. They are awaiting final approval, but Carden says they will move forward with their plans regardless.