A new casual fine dining restaurant, SoCo, located at 304 S Greene St. and co-owned by husband and wife duo Jeremy Law and Kimberly Kulers, opened its doors to the public on Aug. 28 and will continue to provide the Greenville community with an unique experience .
Law and Kulers previously owned a restaurant by the same name in Wilson, North Carolina, for 10 years on their farm, Kulers, an ECU alumna, said. The couple then decided to move their restaurant’s location to Uptown Greenville.
Kulers said the decision to open up SoCo in Greenville was because they wanted to have the restaurant in an urban setting where they could serve more people.
“We sold the farm, the restaurant and our home and everything and moved to Greenville so we could become part of the Greenville community. I went to ECU and graduated in 2000 so it’s kind of cool to see how much Greenville has changed and has grown, and we wanted to be a part of that,” Kulers said.
As for the food, Kulers said SoCo specializes in upscale southern comfort food, hence the name “SoCo.” The food is prepared by Law, who is also the chef. Kulers said the restaurant currently only offers a four-course tasting menu, which is $50 and changes every three weeks. SoCo additionally offers wine pairings, she said.
The location of the restaurant is in the 125-year-old Jones Lee House that was slated for demolition, Kulers said. Law and Kulers purchased the house because it was “charming,” and had it renovated and moved to its S Greene St. location.
The restaurant will continue to take required precautions against COVID-19, and will require guests wear face masks, use hand sanitizer stations, sit at spaced tables six feet apart from one another that have been disinfected after each use by the staff.
“Unfortunately, we’re a small restaurant to begin with, so I know it’s a little frustrating for people,” Kulers said. ”We’re having people make reservations right now because otherwise we couldn’t control the flow of people, so we decided it was best to do reservations, so we can control how many people are around each other at one time.”
Kulers said the restaurant has had good feedback from customers, as they are given a chance to try food they wouldn’t usually try. She said customers usually seem to enjoy the wine pairings.
COVID-19 did affect the opening of the restaurant, Kulers said, as they were not able to get all the materials needed to properly open the restaurant.
“There were some things we couldn’t get because of the pandemic,” Kulers said. “The flooring was delayed, our walk-in cooler was delayed, there were a lot of delays because of the virus. We still opened as soon as we could at half capacity.”
Although SoCo currently does not have any deals for East Carolina University students, Kulers said she would like to see students come in and celebrate special occasions at the restaurant in the future.
The main goal for the restaurant is to be able to open at full capacity eventually, as well as have brunch service on Sundays and have a room for parties, according to Kulers. She said she hopes to see more customers come out to try SoCo soon.
“I think it’s a good place for people to come and get out of their houses and feel safe about dining out and have a somewhat normal dining experience. The staff is wearing face shields so that people can see our facial expressions,” Kulers said. “We're trying to keep it as normal as possible, but I don’t know anywhere else in Greenville that you can get a food experience that is like one you’d get in Europe or a big city.”
Brandon Qualls, owner of upscale restaurant Ford + Shep, located at 718 Dickinson Ave., said he is happy to see SoCo join the neighborhood. He said he had actually looked at the house SoCo is located in himself as a possible place for a restaurant prior to finding his current location.
Having known Law for years prior to SoCo’s move to Uptown Greenville, Qualls said he had the chance to eat at the restaurant’s original farm location in Wilson.
“Honestly, it just kind of strengthens the growth of our city and then people want to be a part of it, so we’re, you know, excited to have them uptown with us,” Qualls said. “You know, the more people we can bring uptown with us the better it is for everybody in the community as a whole,” Qualls said.