Flock Shop: Team behind Willy Taco to open two hot chicken restaurants in iconic buildings

Greenville’s Flock Shop will be in the heart of downtown, at 307 E. Washington St.

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Flock Shop
Rendering of the Spartanburg location

Hot chicken is a hot concept, but other than Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack, which plans to open over a year from now along Laurens Road, the Upstate has seen little of it.

That is about to change when an original concept named Flock Shop opens around the first of the year in Spartanburg and a few months later in downtown Greenville. The buildings originally serviced cars — one was a Crown gas service station in the 1950s, later Pine Street Motors, and the other was W.N. Watson Automotive — and influenced the concept’s clever name.

“Both locations had been old auto chop shops. Historic preservation is our MO, to repurpose really unique spaces,” says Richard Heatly, one of the partners behind Willy Taco and now Flock Shop. “We think the name gives a nod to the buildings.”

Plans have been in the works for just under two years to find and redefine the vintage storefronts. Now that both locations are secured, design and build efforts have begun at a concerted pace.

Flock Shop

Greenville’s Flock Shop will be in the heart of downtown, at 307 E. Washington St. The location has been closely watched since Fireforge Crafted Beer opened 16 months ago; Flock Shop will join the complex which also includes Swanson’s Warehouse, a speakeasy music venue.

“Combing the streets looking for a location, I met David Stone picking up trash on the sidewalk  and I thought, ‘He really cares about the city,’” Heatly says.

He recalls Stone being highly invested in the right mix for Swanson’s and Fireforge. When Flock Shop opens second quarter of next year, it will have 3,000 square feet of finished interiors and the outdoor biergarten will become a shared space with Fireforge.

Spartanburg’s Flock Shop, at 970 S. Pine St., is not downtown but sits attractively between the neighborhoods of Converse Heights, Andrews Farm and Country Club Road and is on the Mary Black Rail Trail, which sees significant bike traffic as part of the Palmetto Trail.

“We’re taking another great old building in Spartanburg and bringing it back to life in a neighborhood that’s not on the corner of Main and Main,” says Bill Burton, founding partner of Flock Shop’s parent group, Hub City Hospitality. “The building to us, its character and history, is what sold us. I think of the two buildings like siblings. They are different and special and really fit what we want to do.”

The property’s footprint may be larger, but the Spartanburg service station was barely 1,500 square feet. “The Greenville spot had the space to begin with, but Spartanburg will be very similar footage,” says Eric Holman, also a Hub City Hospitality partner. Holman is credited with managing the build out of Willy Taco Feed & Seed from a severely dilapidated 1930s warehouse complex.

An addition will increase the new restaurant’s interior space, while retaining its iconic curved façade and two angled buttresses. Sandra Cannon Design has been retained for the projects in tandem, she was part of the team that brought Fr8Yard to market, which remains the Carolinas only entirely outdoor restaurant.

Flock Shop hopes to be known for stellar hot chicken but wants to be sought out for fried chicken with excellent drinks.

“We’re all from the South and we love fried chicken, but 99% of the places that do it well you can’t get a drink at,” says Kenneth Cribb, also a partner in the group. “Take a Southern staple and do it justice, maybe turn it on its head a bit. That’s Flock Shop. We talk about what inspires us and its high energy, great food and drink, and places you can hang out all day.”

Willy Taco

What’s on the menu?

  • Along with the hot variety of fried chicken, Flock Shop will offer lots of traditional homestyle fried chicken including tenders and hand-built sandwiches.
  • South Carolina Chef Ambassador William Cribb will be behind the chef-driven sides with classic comfort food leanings (think grits, slaw, collards, mac and cheese). 
  • Marinated, grilled alternatives will be on the menu and farm-fresh salads with optional protein choices.
  • Curated beer selections paired for the fare means we’ll see some light crisp tasting notes and a house beer private label, likely in the future.
  • Seasonal kegged cocktails made with all juice mixers and at the Greenville location a separate full bar program (with lots of interesting whiskey).

What’s the vibe?

Flock Shop will be a counter-service concept with seating for around 100, open six days a week for lunch and dinner with an open-air emphasis. 

In Spartanburg, expect back patio acoustic music. A live music schedule is in the planning stage for the Greenville location, but for later next year. Both locations plan for a significant carry-out program under the moniker “Flock Boxes.”

About Flock Shop: Team behind Willy Taco to open two hot chicken restaurants in iconic buildings

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