A few local restaurant owners are playing a sort of musical chairs that will result in the closure of a neighborhood bar, two new locations for Tipsy Taco, and a potential revamp for the music pub in the Village of West Greenville.
Tipsy Music Pub at 1237 Pendleton St., Greenville, which was operated by CHASS Productions co-owners Steven Scott and longtime Upstate musician Charles Hedgepath, along with Tipsy Taco co-owners Roger Carlton and Trish Balentine, closed Feb. 25.
Almost simultaneously, The Common Cure at 15 Conestee Ave., the former Local Taco location that reopened in the Augusta Road area as a neighborhood bar and grill at the end of March 2017, closed. Owner John Ko says he and the Tipsy Taco owners have an agreement for Tipsy to buy the restaurant and open a second location of the popular taco shop in April. Tipsy Taco has also announced plans to open a Simpsonville location in May at 702 Fairview Road, Suite 104.
The first Tipsy Taco opened in June 2016 at 215 Pelham Road, and the owners recently began working toward franchising the concept.
Scott and Hedgepath say they are still considering their options following the Tipsy Music Pub closure but will continue to promote the local live music scene through CHASS Productions.
The 4,200-square-foot building that for many years was Dr. Mac Arnold’s Blues Restaurant is owned by Wingspan Properties LLC, registered to Michael Watts, who owns several properties in the Village of West Greenville, including the buildings that house The Village Grind and Golden Brown & Delicious a few doors down. Watts’ brother, Kemp Watts, is also part owner.
“That space has been a music venue from day one,” Kemp Watts says. “The situation with Tipsy Music Pub, it simply didn’t work out. As far as I’m concerned, it’s still going to be a music venue. The Village of West Greenville is the place that it needs to be.”
Ko says Carlton and Balentine had approached him several times about buying The Common Cure building since the kitchen was already set up for a taco line, but he wasn’t quite ready to let it go until staffing issues, which plagued the restaurant since it opened, came to a head.
“About four to five weeks ago I had just lost my sixth general manager,” Ko says.
Ko, who admits he’s not a chef or manager, says as a restaurant owner, he relied completely on his staff to operate the Augusta Road hangout, and after making some initial mistakes in the firsts few months, he had a difficult time recovering.
Ko also owned Oakblue Kitchen at 109 N. Main St. that closed in August 2017 because of a staffing shortage. That space remains vacant, though it has garnered interest from other potential restaurant tenants.
Ko moved to Greenville in 2015 to open two Local Taco locations, a chain that he started in Nashville in 2009. He eventually sold the Local Taco chain to Halo Restaurant Group, which closed both Greenville locations in 2016. The other location was on Pelham Road where Clean Eatz is now located in the Pelham@85 development. Wanting to open up a restaurant in his own neighborhood, Ko managed to work out a deal to get the Augusta Road-area restaurant back to give the bar-and-grill concept a go.
Ko says he plans to take a break from restaurants for the foreseeable future.