Chicora Alley Restaurant & Bar on South Main Street in Greenville is celebrating its 20th anniversary.
Sitting with its owners Ben and Lindsey Dixon, the two reflected on the growth of Greenville over the past two decades.
The couple met and held their wedding reception in the restaurant, but the story starts sometime before that. It begins with two brothers, Ben and Bert Dixon, who wanted self-employment and a concept that revolved around their travels and upbringing.
“(It was) taking Southern things that we learned growing up from parents and family and grandparents, then mixing it with Southwestern and Caribbean,” Ben Dixon said.
The influences are all still clear today in an eclectic menu with dishes that showcase the original concept — popular fare like shrimp and grits, Mom’s Cream Cheese Enchiladas, Mile High Nachos, and jerk plates.
“It’s really … an international thing,” Ben Dixon said. “The Southern food, like the shrimp and grits, with a Caribbean flair to it.”
The Dixons continue to grow the business with the next project being Bert’s Bangin Beef Jerky, using their house-made hot sauce, which they hope to distribute statewide.
Growth amidst expansion
When the Dixon brothers began building Chicora Alley Restaurant & Bar 21 years ago — the restaurant took a year and a half to build — it seemed an odd choice. At the time, there was little else in the West End.
“Greenville was up and coming in 2003. This was not on anyone’s radar. Everybody thought I was crazy for opening upstairs and in the West End,” Ben Dixon recalled. “Seeing all the towns out west, like Telluride, and being in California, I thought Greenville could kind of have that mountain town resort feel to it.”
Since then, the Dixons have navigated the challenges of opening a restaurant and had a front-row seat as the city has grown around them.
Bert Dixon left the restaurant business, but Ben and Lindsey continue to operate the downtown location and another in Travelers Rest. They see a two-decade legacy in their clientele.
“I always remember when people would have parties here or baby showers,” Ben Dixon said. “And I would just sit and say we’re training for our next generation of customers. Kind of as a joke, but it actually happens.”
Chicora Alley is located at 608 B S. Main St. in Greenville, and at 117 N. Poinsett Highway in Travelers Rest.