Local restaurateurs hope to revive restaurant site in downtown Spartanburg

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A new restaurant will open soon in the western end of downtown Spartanburg.

Local businessman Jeff Wardat and his wife, Jennifer King, have leased a 15,000-square-foot space at 307 W. Main St. formerly occupied by Friends and Company above Cohen’s Closeouts for their new eatery Palmetto Grill and Lounge.

Wardat and King said the restaurant’s menu will feature an affordable range of southern-inspired seafood dishes and exotic meats, including alligator, rabbit, frog legs, quail and lamb, as well as a delicious Lowcountry boil. They expect to initially create 12 to 15 new jobs when the business opens in mid-December.

“Spartanburg, it’s growing,” said Wardat, a Jordanian-born foodie, who works full-time as an engineer and owns several local businesses, including Sunny’s Meat Market. “There is a new hotel going in right up the street and a mixed-used development. We’re very near the RJ Rockers Brewery and Cribb’s Kitchen on Main. This is a major gateway to downtown. We’re very excited about it.”

Wardat has tried his hand at a few restaurants in Spartanburg, including the second version of the popular Spice of Life and Sahara on the west side.

But he believes his new concept will mesh well with the energy of downtown and tastes of local diners, and will complement other popular dining spots along Main Street.

“It’s something new, something different,” King said. “We just want people to have fun in a relaxed environment and eat delicious food without having to worry about breaking the bank… You can get something different. But it will also be the kind of place where you can still get a burger if you want.”

Wardat said the restaurant’s atmosphere will blend family dining with the casual, laid-back air of a sports bar.

In addition to a dining room with ample seating, Palmetto Grill and Lounge will have a full bar and a stage for live music. During the coming months, Wardat will renovate other parts of the space to accommodate private dining and events, a billiard room and catering.

The building has an adjacent parking lot with about 75 spaces.

Wardat said he hopes to buy the building and the property it sits on, which also includes some old warehouses. He envisions one day redeveloping the site to bring new retail, residential and recreational opportunities to the city.

But for the time being, he plans to get the restaurant off of the ground.

Wardat said he will open his doors to local musicians, particularly younger artists looking for a place to cut their teeth, radio shows and other cultural interests.

The couple is in the process of finalizing their menu, logo and website.

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