Downtown Greenville has changed a lot over the past 25 years but one thing has remained the same: Trio: A Brick Oven Café. The restaurant is still humming at the corner of Coffee and Main streets, serving up delicious pasta dishes, specialty pizzas, baked entrees, calzones and more.
Having said that, things have changed a bit at Trio. After co-owner Kip Wynne left last year, Steve Boone has been running things on his own.
“After leaning on somebody who’s your best friend for that long, it’s just been different,” Boone says. “Some parts are good, some parts not so good; it’s just an adjustment.”
“But after last year,” Boone adds, “everything’s a freaking adjustment.”
Trio continues doing well and Boone says post-COVID-19, the restaurant is doing about 90% of the business it was doing in early 2020. And some things haven’t changed.
“As far as the difference from 1996 to now, I mean it’s still the same business,” Boone says. “You’ve got to be friendly, you got to make people happy, your food’s got to be good and it’s got to be consistent.”
Boone will tell you everything on Trio’s menu is good, but he has some particular favorites.
“We added a jambalaya pasta dish about three or four years ago,” he says, “and it’s unbelievable. And we added a penne goat dish which has always been kind of a favorite of mine. And then we do a carbonara dish, which is a crowd favorite. And the pizzas are always great.”
It also helps that Trio remains one of downtown’s most affordable restaurants.
“The majority of places downtown are probably more high-end,” Boone says. “We’ve kind of found our niche, and we got the best corner downtown.”
It might be surprising for those who consider Trio downtown institution to know that the owners were originally interested in a different Main Street spot.
“There was a building across the street that we liked,” Boone says, “because back in the day, they did the Thursday night Downtown Alive party right there. And so we thought it would be neat to have that building. It didn’t work out, but this was available, and it worked out great, obviously.”
While Trio certainly has its share of loyal Upstate customers, Boone says the restaurant’s clientele has changed a lot over the last few years.
“All these hotel beds have changed downtown,” he says. “For the first 10 or 15 years, maybe 80% of our customer base was from Greenville. But now I’d say 60-70% of our business is people coming from the hotels. It’s been a sea of change for us.”
Regardless of who’s eating at Trio these days, Boone says he is simply happy his restaurant is still going after 25 years. Or maybe “happy” isn’t the right word.
“It’s more like, ‘surprise,’” he laughs. “It’s 25 years, man! Restaurants don’t stay open 25 years! I’m proud. It’s been a wild ride though, there’s no doubt about it.”
Through The Years
- 1996- Steve Boone and Kip Wynne co-found Trio: A Brick Oven Cafe on the corner of Main & Coffee Street.
- 2016 – Trio celebrates 20 years in downtown Greenville
- 2020 – Kip Wynne leaves the business, making Steve Boone the sole operator
- 2021 – Trio celebrates 25th anniversary