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FOCUS ON

 Upstate South Carolina

Part 2 - Travelers Rest, SC

Part 2 is also a gastronomic, foodie lovers dream. These two places have the right VIBE. 

Travelers Rest is becoming a destination on its own, not just a stop until the next town or a pit stop between Greenville and Asheville.  One of the many benefits of living in and visiting TR, however, is its proximity to so many natural amenities and attractions. For instance, the Greenville Health System Swamp Rabbit Trail is a 19.9-mile multi-use rail trail in Greenville County, South Carolina, that largely follows the bed of a former railroad that had been nicknamed after the indigenous swamp rabbit. locals describe Lake Jocassee as practically the eighth wonder of the world and people drive hours to spend the weekend or a holiday on nearby Lake Hartwell and Lake Keowee, not to mention the handful of other small lakes, rivers and state parks within a short drive of downtown.

TOP TIP - Bike, walk or drive to one of the BEST farmer's markets around spring through early autumn. You can usually count on a food truck or two and often LIVE music fills the air. 

The name "Travelers Rest" came from the fact that it is situated close to the border with the North Carolina mountains. Travelers would stop for a moment in the town before they began the difficult journey into the mountains. Travelers would often have to spend the winter there, waiting for the snow to clear in the mountains before continuing northward.

Farmhouse Tacos

Tacos with a Southern Twist

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Opened their doors the second week of January 2017 and has been going strong since with no decline in sales. 

Chris Williamson and Katie (wife/co-owner) grew up in Greenville, SC. With prices skyrocketing in the housing market in Greenville, they decided to take a look at TR and loved it immediately. They always knew they wanted a restaurant because culinary was Chris' background for fifteen years previous.   

We loved everything about TR, the small town aspect the proximity to the Swamp Rabbit Trail, the people, lifestyle, and farms we buy from like Beachwood Farms who are right down the road. Perfect for a farm-to-table place like ours.
— Chris Williamson
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Farm to table is a popular concept advertised by many establishment. "A lot of places claim to be farm to table, but we really are". Example, given everything made in the kitchen during the summer months, Farmhouse Taco is 93% fresh produce from local farms. Met at the ripe old age of 14. Katie and "him" were highschool sweathearts at Greenville High, now married and co-owners of one of the most exciting establishments anywhere. It also gave them a quality of life they hadn't been able to enjoy before . As a chef , Chris was glued to the stove for eighty or ninety hours per week (weekends and nights) and Katie was a teacher working opposite hours creating quality time together was often challinging.  The just had their first child a year ago, Millie (Emilia). Because of prior experience "he's" had, they'sve structured well with all types and levels of management so the business runs "like a well oiled machine" Now they focus more on the operation side, training, polocies, financials more than ever.  " I hardly ever cook anymore be cause we hired a great chef, a sous chef and the whole nine yards." - Chris

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Chris and Katie describe the aesthetic - we went for that shabby sheik combined with an old farmhouse is what we told the architect. We went way over budget and wound up designing the interior ourselves. It was suppposed to look completely different. We did this all ourselves and I think it looks pretty good - it's got some character. During the Spring and Autumn months, the large doors are rolled up to allow for a beautiful, comfortable experience inside. Outside warm weather brings cornhole boards and bicycle racks for those passing via the Swamp Rabbit Trail. 

FT tries to be involved in the community by donating a portion of sales for highschool benefit nights; however catering has not been advertised per se, rather as calls have come in...

Seating: FT wasn't perpared for the response to their opening becoming immediately robust. Patrons could wait an hour to sit inside or be immediatelty seated outside. in fact, the outdoor seating has become so popular they plan to add in heating of some sort outside.

Menu changes: We always plan menu specials of the day, depending on what's available in season. Seasonal desserts are popular with the likes of French pastries, and playing around with the local fruits.  Ex. an Hawiian style poke dish - healthy tuna served raw with vegetables all around and an Asian topping. Fun, Funky & Healthy.  Farmhouse Tacos also boasts an excellent selection of craft beers on tap. The only light beers they carry are Corona, Miller Lite and the #1 throwback domestic beer - PBR. "We're trying to get as many local breweries as we can - Quest and Brewery 85 from Greenville, HighWire in Asheville for example."

At the end of the day, we are a Taco place, yet all ages, seven to seventy fill the seating inside and outside to eat tacos. 
— Katie Williamson

The foodie scene in certainly competitive in the greater upstate, accordingly, TR boasts a wealth of excellent options. TR restauranteurs occassionally discuss offerings, and ideas. Fortunately for them and us, there is little to no competition within the same 'genre'. "People can eat every meal for five days and not eat at the same place twice" - Katie 

Tuesday through Thursday FT largely sees locals. Friday through Sunday on the other hand has mostly patrons not living in Travelers Rest. A lot of people from Brevared, Hendersonville, Simpsonville, Asheville, and Greenville. "We've had a group of bikers here more than once, who biked here from Hendersonville, NC" - Chris

The Bike racks are full on the weekend. TR is excited by the projections for growth in the next couple of years. 

handcrafted, locally sourced and made with love, means a personal commitment in everything we do. We make everything from scratch and when we make a cocktail or a dish, we put all the love and enthusiasm we have into it. 

GR - What question should I have asked you? 

Chris - we're pretty outdoorsie, hunting and fishing and big into music. I used to played guitar in a band by the way, although you wouldn't have heard of it. We played Rock & Roll (Beatles & Rolling Stones era). My Dad owned a recording studio in downtown Greenville for about thrity plus years. James Brown was probably the most famous person to recorded there. They were more into advertising than recording because bands typically have a lot to spend on recording. Our band had a 'Jam Room' upstairs on the third floor, so we would write songs and then go up stairs to the recording studio  and record it. We quickly learned how many friends you acquire when you throw big parties in a recording studio. 

- February 21, 2018,  YOUR ROOTS ARE SHOWING, GraciousRoots.net


TANDEM

Creperie & Coffeehouse

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Tandem Tandem "serves a menu of seasonal and classic crêpes as well as high-quality coffee and tea." Much like their Travelers Rest compatriots Farmhouse Tacos, Tandem is a company with a conscience. Excellence in every order is a company mandate served with a large side of southern hospitality.

We were searching for a name that would really embody our vision. Crepes and coffee, community. Celebrating togetherness. The name Tandem seemed to fit that perfectly. It’s also fun since we’re right on the Swamp Rabbit Trail.
— Kristen Hartman
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Kristen's not kidding; the Swamp Rabbit Trail passes immediately across the street. In fact, don't be surprised to see just as many patrons donned in cycling wear as those in the usual, seasonal togs. **TOP TIP** the line moves surprisingly quickly; however, if you're a late riser on the weekend, expect to stand in line that extends out the door. Yup, it's THAT GOOD!

Tandem opened August 1st, 2014 with the one challenge every new business hopes for - patrons. GR: What has been your biggest challenge? "The overwhelmingly positive response from the community that made us a lot busier than we expected. Its been an incredible experience to grow together as a team to meet the challenges and continue to provide unparalleled customer service with uncompromising quality in the products we serve." - Kristen

A menu of savory and sweet crêpes
(and waffles and granola, too)

GR: What’s your favorite thing on the menu? "Whatever the current specials are! Changing with the seasons has become one of our favorite aspects of the shop. As the weather is warming, we sure get excited about summer berries and tomatoes."-Kristen

Everything is freshly MADE TO ORDER. "Tandem strives to serve simple, fresh food made with high-quality ingredients. Whenever possible, we feature menu items with a focus on produce from local farms. The seasonal menu items are displayed on a small menu board above the register."

TANDEM: What is your favorite? The GraciousRoots team typically orders one Savory & one Sweet Crepe to share. After trying everything on the menu, we've probably settled on the Savory choice: Fiesta - loaded with shredded chicken, black beans, fresh salsa, sour cream & Colby Jack. Our favorite  Sweet Crepe is up for debate, primarily because of the seasonal creations. I'll make an executive decision: Banana Nut (they had me at Nutella): Yummy Nutella, diced bananas, topped with pecans & chocolate.

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Delicious coffee, sustainably sourced

Tandem serves Counter Culture Coffee. Based in Durham, North Carolina, Counter Culture works directly with farmers to produce amazing coffees straight from the farms on which they were grown.

- February 23, 2018,  YOUR ROOTS ARE SHOWING, GraciousRoots.net