HARTSVILLE, S.C. -- Well-wishers packed the Midnight Rooster Coffee Shop, Courtyard & Eatery on Thursday evening for the grand re-opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony of the popular eatery and coffee shop in downtown Hartsville.
New owner Suzanne Galloway hosted the celebration. Galloway took over the establishment in May from the original owner, Jessie Avant Smith.
As Galloway greeted guests for the ribbon-cutting, she said she hoped they liked the changes made in menu and decor since she took ownership and promised more to come. For the die-hard Rooster fans who might resist change in their hangout, Galloway assured them, while adding her own personal touches, she plans to keep many of what she called the “Jessie-isms” that make the place so special.
A businesswoman for more than 40 years with experience in retail and catering, Galloway said the undertaking was her scariest - taking over a place that means so much to its customers. She said she knows how important The Rooster is to the people of Hartsville.
Before sharing the ribbon-cutting duties with Rooster chef Laura Benigni, Galloway said one of her first and best decisions was to hire Benigni to oversee the kitchen and serve as general manager.
Galloway said she thinks their breakfast menu is one of Hartsville’s best kept secrets and hopes Hartsville will give it try. Another new addition is a Tapas menu, which is available Wednesday through Friday after 5 p.m.
Smith spoke to the Hartsville Messenger for a story article on the sell of The Rooster.
“It amazes me how attached this city has become to this place,” she said. “Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine it would evolve into what is has become.”
Soon after the coffee shop opened in 2002, its artsy, funky, offbeat atmosphere began to catch on with locals and students at Coker College. It became a place for not only great coffee and food, but a place to meet and greet friends.
Christopher McKagen is the editor of The Hartsville Messenger, covering Hartsville, Darlington and Darlington County . Follow @chrismckagen