LITTLE RIVER, SC (WMBF) - When you're hungry for great food, a unique atmosphere and a little history, there's a unique restaurant in Little River that can supply you with all of the above.
It's called Parson's Table and it has been a real God-send to the folks in the area whenever there's a reason to celebrate a special occasion. This is a local restaurant with an almost religious following.
Every town has that one eatery, that signature restaurant that has not only stood the test of time, but brings the same customers back, time and time again. For 35 years now, that spot in right here at Highway 17 north and McCorsey Avenue in Little River.
Chances are the craftsmen who built the Little River Methodist Church back in 1885, had no idea that 90 years later, it would become one of the best-known dining spots on the North Strand, or that such a holy place could be so deceiving.
Ed Murray is the owner and chef. "When you look at it from the outside, it looks like it's a small country church. And I think when people come in you have the high 20-foot ceilings, we have the five different rooms off to the side. We kinda look like one of the tents from Harry Potter."
Murray has been since 1994. His father owned the restaurant back then. And in many ways, Murray has seen to it that time has stood still here.
"I am kinda old fashioned that way," he says. "We do two hours between seatings, you know? We're not trying to be in and out, get 'em in and get 'em out. I want people to come here and enjoy themselves."
And customers have no problem just sitting a while. The scenery here inspires it, beginning with beautiful stained glass windows that adorn every wall brought here from different retired churches in Mullins and Marion and Georgetown.
But this heavenly atmosphere isn't the only thing that keeps the flock coming: it's the food. Parson's Table is an active member of the Sustainable Seafood Initiative and Certified South Carolina Grown, gospel to the ears of customers like Maureen Dolphin.
"We love the local fresh ingredients," she says. "We love the shrimp that's probably been caught today or yesterday."
Making this work requires a lot of work. Original heart-pine floors have to be refinished every year, and the walls can age, but the menu can't.
"The menu changes obviously," says Murray. "I'm always tweaking, doing things."
There may have been a time when Ed Murray dreamed of expansion, of taking the Parson's Table regional. That too is now ancient history. After all, how do you duplicate a place like this?
"I have a full plate here. So, the expansion and trying to grow an empire aren't really what moves me anymore," says Murray.
Neither his trying to resurrect the kind of reputation he and his father before him have built here. Aside from a memorable dinner, Parson's Table offers 250 wine choices, receiving Wine Spectator's award of excellence for eight years running.
Ed Murray has found his true passion with this restaurant and Parson's Table has found its place in Little River's culture as the place to go for special occasions, or just when you're feeling special.