Every great bar begins with a great concept, and that’s exactly what Heather Frechette and Elizabeth Hunt started out with nearly a decade ago. By steadily saving up bartending tips and working various day jobs, the duo opened On the Roxx in Greenville’s historic West End in 2009. With their first success under their belts, the duo opened Encore Gastrolounge earlier this year. We recently chatted with Heather about what it takes to be a successful bar and restaurant owner, her Golden Rule of hospitality, and her favorite Belle Isle cocktail.
First thing’s first, who are you?
How long have you owned a restaurant? What did you do before you owned a restaurant?
We have owned On the Roxx for nine years! I did everything from teaching school to technology sales but always bartended as a second job and saved up tip money to open our own place.
What first got you behind the bar?
When I moved to South Carolina from upstate New York, I didn’t know a lot of people. I started out as a cocktail waitress to fill some time and meet new people. I would stay late and come in on nights off to learn to bartend.
Any pro-tips for someone starting up a restaurant?
Do your homework! It takes a lot of hours and dedication, not to mention the amount of paperwork, licenses, and permits needed just to get open. There is so much more to running a successful restaurant than just managing during operating hours.
Favorite drink made by someone else?
I love a good spicy margarita.
Favorite drink that you make?
The Tucker G&T which is on the menu at Encore. I actually came up with the recipe in a dream. It consists of gin, Jack Rudy Small Batch Tonic, club soda, and a scoop of house made lime sorbet.
Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?
A great sour beer.
If you had to pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
What’s your favorite part about owning restaurants and bars?
The many amazing people that I get to meet. I love hearing about their vacations, families, and everything else. Several people who have met at Roxx are now married and having children. It’s really fun to celebrate these special milestones with our customers, who are now friends!
Where do you like to stop in for a drink?
I enjoy going anywhere with outdoor seating when weather permits. A great view is always fun, too. When traveling, the first thing I look for is the best rooftop bar.
What’s your take on today’s cocktail culture?
I love the popularity of craft cocktails and creativity in mixology, but I also appreciate a good hole in the wall.
Give us your golden rule when it comes to the restaurant business?
Golden Rule for anyone in the hospitality industry: Give the best experience to every customer. A bad review or shared bad experience can go viral and destroy a restaurant’s reputation.
What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?
I love the Belle Isle Honey Habanero in the Mellow Habanero.
Belle Isle Moonshine is a premium, handcrafted spirit proudly hailing from Richmond, Virginia.
We take the name Belle Isle from a small, 540-acre island located smack dab in the middle of the James River where Civil War soldiers used surplus corn rations to make moonshine in copper kettles.
Belle Isle Moonshine is distilled from 100% organic corn, grown by three family farms and responsibly sourced. Once triple-distilled, we charcoal filter Belle Isle four times over. Then, we cut it with purified water right from the James River. Our infusions are made with 100% real ingredients, never artificial flavors or color. We use real grapefruits sourced from Texas and California, local honey from the Shenandoah Valley, organic habaneros grown an hour away, and freshly roasted coffee beans from the most socially conscious roastery in Richmond, Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co.
From there, each bottle of Belle Isle Moonshine is filled, corked, labeled, and packed by hand by our Production team, who check each bottle and batch for quality assurance. Since Belle Isle is made in small batches, you can find the batch number handwritten in the bottom right corner of each bottle.
Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.