With six repurposed shipping containers and 13 local restauranteurs, the father-son duo of Doug and Mack Cross hope to create a communal space in downtown Greenville. After two years of hard work, Mack Cross says the anticipated open-air food hall is “weeks, not months” away from opening.
“We made some mistakes along the way, and learned some hard lessons. We’ve had to overcome a lot to get to this point. It’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” says Mack, the younger Cross and co-founder of Four Oaks Property Group. “Getting to this point, we’re starting to see the rewards a little bit.”
The property at 126 Augusta St. was formerly a construction dumping zone, according to Cross. He purchased six repurposed shipping containers from a company called SG Blocks in Houston. Before finding a permanent home at Gather GVL, they were single-use containers.
Cross got the idea for an open-air food venue in 2017 while visiting a similar concept in Long Beach, California, called SteelCraft.
“While I was there for lunch and dinner on a Sunday, I saw a 2-year-old’s birthday party,” he recalls. “I saw business meetings. I saw tons of strollers, dogs, and all walks of life there enjoying themselves. I thought to myself, this is a cool concept. Let’s do it in Greenville.”
For Cross, Gather GVL fulfills Greenville’s need for a family-friendly eatery.
“My wife and I are millennials; we enjoy going out and having experiences. Just because we have kids now doesn’t mean we want to stop going out and having fun. There just aren’t that many places where you can get quality food, where it’s affordable, where you can take kids and not feel like you’re disturbing other people there.”
Gather GVL is intentionally designed to encourage relationships, from its communal dining tables to its art-expression wall. Cross plans to use the stage for showing football games or hosting local musicians.
“In this day and age, with everything being so digital, we’re all attached to our screens,” he says. “Having a real-life, sensory experience with smells and sights and sounds, you get all of that here. And that’s been the vision from day one.”
In addition to sustainability and community Cross says he wants to support other local entrepreneurs by using Gather GVL to offer a more-affordable way for local, independent restaurateurs to open businesses.
Paul and Sarah Klaassen, along with partner Michael Olbrantz, are the owners of four of the 13 restaurants at Gather GVL: Hendough, KO Burger, Al Taglio Pizzeria, and Mercado Cantina. The Klaassens have arranged three of their four shipping containers to share one central kitchen, which allows them to pool staff and space for efficiency’s sake.
“Finding a project like this where we could bring some of our ideas to life a little quicker than opening a brick and mortar for each individual one was really exciting,” Sarah Klaassen says.
Here’s a list of the local food and beverage businesses that are currently setting up shop at Gather GVL.
- Hendough Chicken & Donuts — Originally opened in Hendersonville, North Carolina, by Paul and Sarah Klaassen, Hendough puts a fresh twist on Southern fried chicken classics.
- Greenville Beer Exchange — Self-proclaimed as “Greenville’s Craft Beer Destination,” its South Laurens Street location is less than a mile from Gather GVL.
- Rocky Moo — A downtown Spartanburg favorite, Rocky Moo offers custom hand-crafted ice cream sandwiches.
- Mercado Cantina — Formerly an Asheville, North Carolina-based food truck named Vitamina-T, Mercado Cantina is reborn at Gather GVL under owner Michael Olbrantz, but will still serve its classic tacos, tortas and tamales.
- KO Burger — The KO stands for “knock-out,” and the Upstate Business journal reported in 2018 that the Klaassen-owned burger joint will be making Shake Shack-style burgers.
- Al Taglio Pizzeria — Al Taglio claims to serve Greenville’s first Roman-style pizza. According to Eater, Roman-style pizza is thin-crusted.
- Saki Saki — This hibachi bar will be a second location of the downtown Greenville landmark, Sushi Murasaki.
- Mike’s Cheesesteaks & Roast Pork — Chef Andrew Fallis told the Upstate Business Journal in 2018 that he wanted to keep his cheesesteaks “as traditional as possible.”
- Sweet Sippin’ — The Simpsonville-based wine shop will open its second location at Gather GVL. In 2019, owner Julie Redman told the Upstate Business Journal “the most exciting part of it is that I love their vision of bringing the multicultural aspect together.”
- Cocobowlz — Cocobowlz opened a location in Haywood Mall in 2019, and the acai and pitaya-based healthy eating alternative powerhouse is opening its second location in Gather GVL.
- Prost! — Chef Harald Schmidt is bringing authentic German food to Greenville, and Gather GVL is his first location.
- The Pasta Addict — Co-owners Anthony and Jennifer Pepe relocated from New York City to Greenville in 2017 with 30 years of combined food-service experience, and when they couldn’t find NYC-quality pasta, they began to make it in their own kitchen. Pasta Addict will be their first restaurant.
- West End Coffee Bar — The Greenville coffee roastery plans to open a coffee bar at Gather GVL.