WINNSBORO — Fairfield County has a new restaurant serving a famous Calabash chicken recipe that was so good it was picked up by a national restaurant chain.
It was the sale of that recipe that gave co-owner Frank Roof the start up capital to launch his business venture on Aug. 1.
He a unique moniker for customers to remember, and after a conversation with his father-in-law, settled on the name Swamp Fox in honor of Francis Marion’s role in the Revolutionary War.
The setting in the establishment is a homey, peaceful one, though.
The Swamp Fox Restaurant and Bar has variety on the menu includes fare at prices aimed at a family dining experience.
Fox said that the entire menu is stocked with his favorite foods, including his signature steaks.
“We serve USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculutre) certified Angus beef,” Roof said. “We cut our own steaks and cut them fresh and focuses on high quality ingredients.”
They also use jumbo size wings and premium grilled shrimp. Roof has his own special rubs and he makes all his own sauces. He said customers have come from 200-300 miles away to dine on his steaks.
The Swamp Fox also does a good bit of business from tailgaters at football games.
“Folks from Chester call ahead with their order of wings or ribs and we will have them ready to go,” Roof said. “We are only about 20 minutes from USC, so the food will still be hot when you get there.”
They also offer Friday night specials that rotate weekly. Friday specials include all you can eat wings, all you can eat steak and seafood and all you can eat ribs.
Sunday dinner has become a new staple for the business, so Roof opens seven days a week. They are located at 1534 Highway 321 Business N.
They open at 11 a.m. on weekdays but they serve breakfast all day. Usually on weeknights they stay open until 10 p.m. or later depending on if a crowd is there having a good time.
He also has a children’s menu.
Roof plans to mount televisions in every room to add to the atmosphere.
Interestingly, he has divided the establishment into thematic rooms, such as a Clemson room, a Carolina room, a NASCAR room and a family room. Arcade games and an Internet jukebox add to the ambiance in this local hangout.
He plans to do an EMS/firefighter themed room, both to recognize those men and women for their service and to acknowledge them as being some of his most faithful customers.
Often at lunchtime, Roof said the place is packed with EMS and sheriff’s deputies.
He keeps their food on a warmer for them if they have to go out on a call or making it available in a to go box.
Cutting his own meat makes the days longer, but 16-18 hour days have been worth it for Roof, who is living out his dream. This is not his first brush with small business because he owned a landscaping business for 15 years, but he now is a full time restaurant owner.
“I did cooking on the family grill as a kid and found I had a knack for it,” Roof said.
That said, he noted the physical and mental challenges required of the restaurant business.
“You have to be mentally ready and to be married to the place, basically,” he said.
His wife, Holly, is an understanding co-owner with him though she does not spend time at the establishment.
Jimmy Mayfield is at his side as cook while Fox mans the grill. He also leans heavily on front end manager Teresa T.T. Bennett.
Popular items include the loaded French fries, the Philly cheese steak, the whale “biggest fish sandwich in the south”, the 10 ounce. rib-eye and Frank’s famous Calabash chicken tender loins.
“They have a great 10 ounce rib-eye and the grilled shrimp is fantastic,” said regular customer and Fairfield County resident Joe Nichols.
Salads and appetizers round out the menu. Sodas, sweet tea, bottled domestic and import beer, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, frozen drinks and house wine selections also are available.
The Swamp Fox is available for private parties and Roof said they have hosted a few birthday parties.
Rooms are available for rent for area meetings as well. He said they do a lot of catering.
Customers can all in orders at 803-815-0099. The Swamp Fox also is located on Facebook.