Edible Upcountry Magazine, Five Years Strong: Why We Love AGR
Five Years Strong: Why We Love AGR
Local products become divine dishes at the American Grocery
By Ashley Warlick, Photos by Brian Kelley
Here are the facts:
This is not a corporation; this is a couple. For the last five years, Joe and Darlene Clarke have lived together, worked together, all day every day. The heart and soul of their connection is embodied in the restaurant. Their new puppy, Sookie, even hangs out in the back.
They stick around. American Grocery opened its doors in 2007. The economy bottomed out in 2009. The restaurant business is hard enough on a good day, and these guys have weathered the worst.
Local means local. The Clarke’s have been unwavering in their commitment to the growers and farmers in our region— before it was cool, when it was tough, without fail, season after season. From Brickhouse Farms in Gaffney to Merciful Hearts in Pelzer to Split Creek Goat Farm in Anderson, the changing menu at American Grocery is inspired by food that’s sourced right here.
They are always happy to see you. Most often, Darlene’s at the door, Drew’s behind the bar, and Joe’s in the kitchen, but you never stop into AGR without feeling welcomed, graciously.
There are two items of canned goods in their kitchen: tomato paste and whole peeled tomatoes. It’s important to note these are just flavoring elements, not central to any dish, and not rocket science. We bet, if Joe felt like it, he could make a tomato can itself.