Despite a pandemic and a shaky economy, a Greenville restaurant is gearing up to celebrate its fifth anniversary.
In June 2018, Fork and Plough chef and co-owner Shawn Kelly and co-owner Roddy Pick opened the farm-to-table restaurant. What started out as a chef and farmer getting to know each other when they had met in Charleston led to a Greenville Overbrook neighborhood farm-to-table community.
Kelly and Pick’s growing friendship got to the point where Kelly was ready to open a restaurant, and Pick was ready to invest in one — a way for him to sell his products from the farm. And together, dreams came true, and Fork and Plough happened.
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Kelly has worked in the farm-to-table concepts for more than a decade and said at the time he started his career in Charleston that scene wasn’t as big as it is now.
“After doing years of that, which does take work, I realized you really can source things locally, which makes the guest experience better,” said Kelly. “It’s all about supporting local people trying to make a living and keeping money in the local economy. Farm-to-table also makes a huge difference in the quality of the food at the end of day and keeping to seasonality. For example, we aren’t going to service tomatoes in January, or peaches in December. And this keeps things light and bright and beautiful.”
Quickly pivoting was key to success
One of the most significant things that has kept Fork and Plough alive is the way their model is set up, said Kelly. Having retail and pivoting quickly to becoming more of an all-purpose grocer — having coolers in place with grab-and-go food — has been essential for them. They are not only a restaurant but a butcher and do catering as well, a lot of which stems from people that are well-aware of the food they prepare, and whether it’s for a wedding or retirement party or workplace parties, he added.
“We never flinched and stayed focused on what we do, which is providing good food and good service, being a neighborhood place people have responded well to and have provided a lot of support,” Kelly said.
Although success and economic impact is hard to quantify, said Kelly, they have 50 employees and support local businesses as much as they can — from farmers to people who make their merchandise, different suppliers, breweries, and wineries.
“It is full circle, because we see a lot of those same people dining here, having business meetings, etc.” he said. “A huge percentage of our business is local.”
As for the menu, Kelly said this is another reason regulars like to dine at Fork and Plough — sometimes a few times a week.
“There is always something different,” he said. “Because the menu changes every day, there is always something new to try and you can explore different local dishes that are fresh and seasonal.
Don’t worry, though, he said. They still have their staple menu items every night, such as their burgers and vegetable plates.
Kelly said although he always has ideas and concepts he wants to potentially pursue the right opportunity would have to present itself.
“I’m all about finding the right location and taking a look at what that location needs, in terms of what will be successful there,” he said. “I wouldn’t ever want to force a concept into a location.”