After Perch Gastropub and Birds Fly South co-owners Shawn and Lindsay Johnson spent a lot of time in European countries, visiting and falling in love with various breweries and pubs, they knew they wanted to create the same type of atmosphere in their brewery concepts.
Perch opened at the end of October at 1501-101 E North Street in Greenville’s Overbrook neighborhood, while Birds Fly South opened in 2016 in Hampton Station.
The pair looked at the current Perch location a few years ago, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, when they started to think about a second location for Birds Fly South. At the time, they talked to the owner of the space but decided it wasn’t the right time for a second location.
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The Johnsons looked at the North Street location again in 2021, which happened to still be available.
“We love the Overbrook location and other businesses coming up here, and overall, what’s going on in the neighborhood,” said Lindsay Johnson.
Perch’s menu is Eastern European-inspired street food, to include Polish, German, Hungarian, Czech Republic-style dishes sprinkled in with traditional pub food such as pretzels, poutine, sandwiches, and burgers. The Johnsons brought in Chef Ron Rawhoof early in the opening process, who grew up in Chicago with a Polish background.
“Shawn and I spent time in Belgium and the Netherlands years ago and fell in love with the breweries and pubs there,” said Lindsay Johnson. “We really thought about what atmosphere we wanted to create, and the space helped out with that as it’s not very large as it is and has a cozy and welcoming vibe.”
The Johnsons said they knew they wanted to offer a full-service menu at their second location. While Perch is also a brewery with its own brand, like Birds Fly South, it differs because it is a food-centric concept.
“Most breweries are almost all full-service bars now, with food, liquor, wine, non-alcoholic options, and elaborate food menus, so we wanted to chase the trend and bring a unique, fun experience and vibes, but the bones are still of a brewery,” said Shawn Johnson. “With the two concepts, we have attracted new customers, while giving our loyal patrons something new to enjoy.”
Shawn Johnson said opening a restaurant during the COVID period of time with shutdowns was interesting and challenging, because they didn’t really know what to expect, which made the process stressful, especially with trying to retain staff.
“We had a lot of faith in what we were accomplishing,” he said. “I think we are still experiencing a COVID hangover, and as every business starts out well, then you must try to figure out how to revive the vibe moving forward. I think everyone is still trying to figure out what the new world looks like looking forward.”
Perch’s vibe is described as a classy but unpretentious establishment, much like European pubs, with people from every walk of life.
“Our goal was to create a sense of community, that local neighborhood pub feel,” said Lindsay Johnson. “And we hope that continues.”