A small, possibly-overlooked detail ties together the past, present and future for Heather Mathison and The Peddler’s new Downtown Spartanburg location.
The hostess stand, topped with seating chart, reservation lists and a small bowl of mints, is an old box television. It has since been retooled to hold menus and other Peddler paraphernalia in drawers hidden behind the bulging screen.
“I used to watch this TV when I was growing up,” she said. “To have it here now is pretty cool.”
The old television – which belonged to Mathison’s childhood neighbors – fits perfectly with The Peddler’s aesthetic; an old-timey steakhouse that specializes in meat and potatoes. A place where the classics are appreciated and un-meddled with. Dark wooden floors sit under heavy but comfy dark brown tables and chairs in the steakhouse’s two main dining areas. The restaurant’s ever-popular phone booth – complete with metal bench and rotary payphone – made the journey from its former home on East Main Street to its new home along West Main Street at the gateway Wall Street.
The Peddler joins the lineup of a bustling Wall Street corridor, serving as the gateway leading to Health in Hand Juice & Smoothie Bar, Monster Subs’ downtown location, Colliers International’s office, Bond Street Wines and It’s Bahn Mi, Baby. Apartments above several of the Wall Street businesses provide a great look onto Downtown Spartanburg, as its momentum continues.
“With our presence here, I think it brings a little more life,” Mathison said. “This building has been empty for so long and is so iconic to the Spartanburg community, I think just being part of being in this building is a great compliment.”
Mathison’s family has owned The Peddler in Spartanburg for 23 years. She had kept an eye out for relocation possibilities because the steakhouse’s former location wasn’t easily accessible for handicapped restaurant-goers and it had outgrown the space. Now, the restaurant sits in a much bigger space equipped with a larger kitchen.
The opportunity to occupy the space known to many as Abby’s – previously home to a steakhouse bearing that name – came to Mathison and the connection was perfect.
“Dating back to when this was Abby’s, I thought it was the most beautiful building downtown. Even when there wasn’t much going on downtown, people still came to Abby’s when it was here,” she said. “This building has always been the building that I know, that is like a landmark, you say, ‘it’s at Abby’s’ and that’s pretty clear. We’re located in a great area where we’re kind of in the midst of everything.”
Not much, aside from the restaurant’s space, will change with the move downtown. The staff and chefs have come over and the menu will stay the same, much to the delight of many Peddler long-timers. Weather permitting, outdoor dining will open in the spring in a courtyard area directly across Broad Street from the entrance to Spartanburg City Hall.
The new space has many more windows and much less wall space, so many of the accoutrement adorning the walls on The Peddler’s East Main Street location are gone.
“The phonebooth is a huge one that everyone was like, ‘are you going to take, are you going to take,’ and kids now don’t even know what a phonebooth is, so that’s kind of cute. It’s one of the completely unique pieces we brought over but we couldn’t bring everything over,” she said. “We wanted it to be warm and comfy. We definitely want to be old school, straight-forward steakhouse. We do it right and we do it good.”
Mathison said the new location is more open and easier to find for new diners. She suspects long-timers will still venture out to The Peddler, but an increased, diversified clientele will likely build as travelers, namely those staying at the AC Hotel Spartanburg, find their way to Downtown Spartanburg looking for a perfectly cooked piece of steak and all the sides.
“We’ll still have all our loyal followers, we call them our ‘Peddler People,’ we’ll still have that but I think we’ll have a lot of new people coming in,” she said. “We’re really excited about the traffic we’ll get from Main and Wall street. I think this location will bring some of the younger, 30-somethings in. A lot of people thought of us before as their mom and dad’s place. We think this will be everyone’s place.”