Greenville’s The Flat restaurant expanding to downtown Spartanburg

Greenville restaurateurs Darren Sip and Nick Conte plan to open the second installment of the cool-casual eatery The Flat by mid-2018 in the 5,500-square-foot space formerly occupied by Miyako Sushi Group at 114 and 116 Magnolia St.

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Darren Sip and his business partner Nick Conte plan to open a second installment of their popular Greenville eatery The Flat in downtown Spartanburg by mid-2018.

Another new dining option is headed for downtown Spartanburg.

Greenville restaurateurs Darren Sip and Nick Conte plan to open the second installment of the casual eatery The Flat by mid-2018 in the 5,500-square-foot space formerly occupied by Miyako Sushi Group at 114 and 116 Magnolia St.

The Flat of Spartanburg will feature made-to-order fare and a rotating selection of craft beers, high-end whiskeys, and cocktails. It is expected to create 12 to 20 jobs.

“When we started looking around [for a second location], we considered a few places,” Sip said. “Spartanburg just kept popping up. … When we got there and saw what was going on, we knew it was a good fit.”

Sip and Conte opened their flagship restaurant in December 2014 at 1606 Woodruff Road.

The two men grew up together in Westchester, N.Y., and have been friends for the past three decades.

Conte relocated to the Upstate in 2005. Sip was working as a bartender at Yankee Stadium when the two men decided to open a restaurant together in New York.

After their plans for that business hit a snag, the owners decided to bring their collaboration to Greenville.

The Flat is named after their high school hangout.

“[Conte] kept telling me how great the Upstate was,” Sip said. “And we were both like, ‘You know, why don’t we do something together down there?’”

In Spartanburg, the owners plan to replicate the model that has fueled the growth of their Greenville location, but they also have a few new additions in store.

The Flat’s menu includes a range of affordably priced appetizers, wings, sandwiches, burgers, sliders, rotating chef specials, and desserts.

Sip said everything is made fresh from locally sourced ingredients and never frozen.

The eatery cuts its own french fries, makes its own sauces and seasonings, and produces its own pimento cheese, which Sip said is a favorite among customers.

“I think we’re really going to draw people in with our food,” Sip said. “A lot of people say that our burgers are the best in town.”

For their new restaurant, Sip and Conte have signed a lease on 5,500 square feet at 114 and 116 Magnolia St., which previously housed Miyako Sushi Group.

During the next few months, the owners will renovate the space, which housed Miyako for 19 years prior to the prominent sushi restaurant’s move next door and Harry’s restaurant during the decade prior.

“It’s mostly cosmetic,” Sip said of the changes. “Nothing structural.”

Sip and Conte will transform Miyako’s old sushi bar into a high-end whiskey and cocktail bar. They will leave the main bar where it is but give it a few upgrades to make it more functional.

Overall, the restaurant will have an industrial, rustic vibe, Sip said.

The owners will open up the building’s second floor and install an arcade with games, pool tables, and other amenities, including a small stage for live music or comedy shows, and private event space.

Customers will be able to enjoy sports games on flat-screen TVs that will be mounted throughout the establishment.

The restaurant will host bingo, trivia, and other group activities.

Matt Yates, head bartender of the Greenville location, will take charge of the Spartanburg store’s beer and spirits offerings. Kitchen staff at the Greenville store will initially oversee the food offering in Spartanburg.

The Flat will join a downtown that has attracted about 16 new restaurants since May 2016, with the potential to net at least eight more during the coming year.

Sip said the owners are enthused by growth in the city’s hospitality industry, new residential development, surrounding colleges and universities, and a spate of multimillion-dollar investments near Morgan Square.

He said one other aspect of the business they plan to replicate in Spartanburg is their work in helping to raise funds for local charities.

“We’re really excited about it,” Sip said. “We’re excited about Spartanburg. … We’re ready to hit the ground running.”

Scott Jones, Stuart Smith, and John Stathakis II of NAI Earle Furman represented the landlord Stathakis Two LLC in the transaction. Conte and Sip worked with Adam Chandler at RealtyLink.

“It feels great,” said Stathakis, whose family owned Harry’s and has a long history of owning and operating prominent restaurants in Spartanburg. “It’s the building that got me interested in real estate. My family used that building to create income. It provided space that my family used as a restaurant of their own. It’s good to see it leased up, and it was great to work with Scott and Stuart on that.”

“I think [Sip and Conte] will do great,” Stathakis added. “They already have a model that works well. Replicating that model and doing some things specifically for Spartanburg should be great for them and for Spartanburg.”

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