Happy Hour: “When Greenville businesses say, ‘Help,’ we listen.”

Friday evenings along the Swamp Rabbit Trail at Unity Park are truly Happy Hours.

People gathered with bikes, yoga mats, their families, their dogs, a cold beverage and smiles.

It’s a joyful place to wind down after a hard week’s work.

This past Friday was sunny. The crisp fall air full of excitement. About the opening of a small pedestrian bridge.

It may not seem like a big deal. But for the owners “on the other side,” it was a game changer.

Back in July, the City of Greenville opened a new section of the trail and dedicated a foot bridge named for its generous sponsors, the Spinks Family. Because of ongoing construction, the plan was to keep the Spinks Bridge closed until the park is complete in the spring of 2022.

But then we heard from Nate.

Nate Tomforde is the owner of Southernside Brewing Company on Delano Drive. He opened his restaurant, pub and outdoor patio during the COVID pandemic. It was a double risk. Scary times and a location within an unfinished (albeit soon to be spectacularly awesome) park. It was going well until the portion of the trail that went past the brewery came to a dead end before the Spinks Bridge, with foot and bike traffic diverted to the other side of the river.

Nate reached out to the City Manager’s Office with a message: He was hurting. His business was down 40% since the trail was diverted. Can you open the bridge early?

Turns out, all it would take was pouring an extra 15 feet of concrete. Easy, “yes.”

Thanks to quick work from Harper General Contractors, the trail in front of Southernside was finished in a matter of days.

Council members Lillian Brock Flemming and Wil Brasington made the ceremonial first trip. Waiting on the other side, with a huge grin and cell phone raised for the photo op, was Nate Tomforde.

We stood with Nate on the bridge as bikes breezed past, dog walkers were pulled along and children danced and skipped their way across. It was like it had always been there. Always been open.

I sent my boss, the City Manager, a note when I got back to the office. I told him I was really proud to work for the City of Greenville. That we had made a difference. Seeing the article in Upstate Business Journal reporting that business at Southernside Brewing over the weekend was the best it’s been since May, made the moment even sweeter.

When we say we support businesses in Greenville, SC. We mean it. We do. It’s not lip service. If you don’t believe me, ask Nate. Buy a beer, sit on his patio, feel the vibrancy of our community. Let him tell you his “From Here You Can” story.

Beth Brotherton is the Director of Communications for the City of Greenville.