Rick Erwin Dining Group announced Aug. 2 it has signed a 10-year lease for a new restaurant in Haywood Mall, with a planned early-2019 opening in the 5,500-square-foot former Palmetto Moon retail space fronting the parking lot on the lower level.
This will be the eighth restaurant for the Greenville-based group with restaurants also in Spartanburg and Clemson.
The yet-to-be-named restaurant situated at the mall entrance between Sears and the Apple Store will be an upscale casual seafood concept with a small, chef-driven, seasonally changing menu, full bar, and an outdoor patio that will be shielded from the parking lot, says Michael Ivey, Rick Erwin CFO and partner.
“I was not necessarily interested in a restaurant near the mall,” he says. “It took me getting an economic lesson on the success and the stability of our mall to put those stigmas to rest.”
For Ivey, the overwhelming pros of the location are that it will have high visibility from Haywood Road, with easy access to a central, midtown location with a lot of residential rooftops, and it’s an alternative to going downtown.
“We’ll have a tremendous parking lot,” Ivey says, citing one of the most common complaints from local diners.
The concept was created based on the dining group’s comfort level with seafood and a need Ivey sees in the midtown market.
“We went from, ‘Why the mall?’ to ‘Why not the mall?’” Ivey says.
Additionally, he saw the need to differentiate the restaurant from the other nearby steak, chicken, and pasta spots.
He says the goal is for the restaurant and bar, which will be incorporated into the outdoor patio, to become a social scene, and draw people from outside the mall rather than catering only to shoppers.
Management is working with Craig Gaulden Davis Architecture on the design, which has its challenges converting a retail space to a restaurant without disrupting the tenants above.
As for the name, Ivey says the short list is following a trend the group started with its two most recent restaurants in Spartanburg – The Standard and Level 10 – neither of which are branded with the Rick Erwin’s name or logo.
“We want to be sure we name this child right,” he says.