Mill Street Grill offers another dining option in Manning
by Laura Stone | July 7, 2018 9:52 pm
Last Updated: July 7, 2018 at 10:57 am
Manning’s dining scene has now expanded. Mill Street Grill opened its doors on June 13, offering another evening option for dining out.
Cathy Rabon, one of Mill Street Grill’s owners, grew up on a farm in Dalzell. At 14 years old, she met Bubba, dating him four years before marrying him. She went to college to study bridal consulting and fashion purchasing, and she worked in that industry for both Ru Velle and Belk in Sumter.
In the mid-1980s, Rabon and her husband purchased an existing restaurant in Sumter. Due to their success, they were asked to open another restaurant near Shaw Air Force Base. Rabon ran Cathy’s Kitchen, but it took so much of her time, she had to quit bridal consulting and commit all of her time to restaurant work. Rabon began catering through Cathy’s Kitchen, and when they sold the restaurant, Rabon continued to cater.
In the 1990s, the Rabon’s opened and subsequently sold a small grocery store, operated an Orange Julius, from whose kitchen Rabon continued to cater, and opened a catering business called Catering Kitchen. Rabon catered grand openings for banks, USC Christmas parties and Chamber of Commerce events.
“I loved the decorating and cooking,” said Rabon.
By this time, Rabon’s husband had moved to their beach condo at North Myrtle Beach, pursuing other business interests. Rabon drove back and forth from Sumter to North Myrtle Beach while continuing to run a restaurant in Sumter. After two and a half years, the drive became too much, so the Rabon’s sold their Sumter restaurant interests and moved fully to the beach.
Rabon’s husband did well in real estate investment and development until the economic crunch in 2008. When the market began to slump, they returned to Sumter and the restaurant industry.
Sports & Wings opened its doors in 2009, and five and a half years later, the business became Bubba’s Diner. The new menu included breakfast and lunch items, homemade donuts and family recipes for country cooking.
However, the Rabons sold the property to the local school district, who plans to tear down the building and erect a career center.
Prior to the sale, Rabon was approached by Manning Mayor Julia Nelson, who asked if they would open a restaurant in Manning. Rabon began looking at property, finally settling on a property owned by Charles Hodge. Hodge offered to renovate the building at his cost if Rabon would co-own the restaurant with him.
“How could I say no to that?” said Rabon. A deal was struck. Although it took over a year to get the restaurant ready to go, Mill Street Grill is finally up and running, creating 40 jobs for the Manning community. Rabon is once again running her own restaurant.
“It just kind of gets in your blood,” said Rabon. The recipes for the menu items are hers, and she has instructed the staff on how to prepare each dish. She is, however, always open to suggestions, new ideas and new techniques her staff may bring her.
The menu at Mill Street Grill still has several of the tried-and-true recipes from Bubba’s, many recipes are unique to Mill Street, and all menu items are made from scratch at the restaurant. The Monday-Friday lunch buffet has country cooking, with a rotating main course for each day of the week: Monday is meatloaf, Tuesday is fried pork chops, Wednesday is turkey and dressing, Thursday is country style steak and Friday is flounder.
This past weekend, they began serving an evening buffet on Friday and Saturday nights, keeping the flounder and other fish items and adding in chicken and homemade waffles. Within a month or so, Rabon hopes to add a Sunday buffet from 11-3 to satisfy the after-church patrons.
Mill Street Grill has a full bar, with a menu that includes 12 different martinis. Happy hour runs Monday-Friday from 4:30-6:30 with happy hour prices on wines and beers.
The restaurant offers catering services, sandwich trays and chicken salad by the quart. Mill Street has hosted birthday parties and working luncheons in the Carlyle Room, a separate room which seats 24 guests and is named in honor of Wilbur Ardis Carlyle, who owned the building.
Rabon is already considering ways to grow and improve Mill Street Grill. She is open to working with local farmers for produce, and she is hoping to soon offer specialty cakes. While the Rabons may open another Sumter restaurant in the future, Rabon is currently looking for a property to create a drive-through-only restaurant for her homemade donuts.
Rabon hopes to participate in community events, as she did with the Main Street Manning 2017 event at the Drayton House. She is devoting all of her time to the restaurant while it’s still in its infancy stages, but hopes to delve more into local groups and events once things settle down into a smooth routine.
The Rabons purchased a house on Lake Marion, and they have been enjoying time on the lake in the evenings. Rabon spends her spare time with her family, and her grandsons come to play on the lake often.
“We’re planning on being a part of the community,” said Rabon.
Mill Street Grill is open Monday-Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. The weekday lunch buffet is served from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Their menu can be seen at millstreetmanning.com. To make reservations or place a take-out or catering order, call 803-433-6455.