River City Pioneer
Behind many a city’s revival are restaurateurs who open eateries that become the lifeblood of a thriving downtown. In Greenville, that’s Carl Sobocinski. Born and raised in New Hampshire, Sobocinski moved South to attend Clemson University with plans to be an architect, but found his calling in the restaurant business instead. His restaurant group, Table 301, lays claim to eleven area concepts. In 2006, he co-founded Euphoria, the food and music festival that draws visitors from around the South to Greenville each September.
How’d you get into the restaurant business?
As a college student I waited tables and bartended—that introduced me to the restaurant business—and when I graduated, realized I didn’t want to sit behind a desk.
You later went on to open several restaurants on your own, all in Greenville. Why did you stay?
I knew I wanted to stay in Greenville and find new spaces for new concepts. I guess it has something to do with my architecture background—rather than developing a concept and forcing it into multiple locations, most of our projects have come from finding a location and developing a concept to fit.
Tell us about starting Euphoria.
Edwin McCain and I were talking about philanthropy, thinking, “What could we do if we teamed up together?” I’d visited South Beach and Aspen Food and Wine festivals and wanted to do that in Greenville—something that’s the right size and scale, but still a world-class event.
“I love this area, with the lakes and the mountains, the fact that it’s three hours to the beach. It has everything.”
Why should we visit Greenville?
People can come for a weekend and once they park their car, they never have to get back in it. You can cycle or hike, we have performing arts and restaurants, and a walkable Main Street. On Thursday and Friday nights there are street festivals; on Saturday there’s a farmers market. Greenville is very community-minded.
Where is the city headed?
Every time I read a story about a restaurant opening—when High Cotton first came, Husk now—I think it’s great. All boats rise with the rising tide. When I started this twenty-some years ago, there was maybe one or two farmers to buy from locally. So every time new restaurants come, that’s more demand; that provides more opportunities for growers to sell locally. It’s a ripple effect.