The Whistle Stop at The American Café : A Local Favorite for 75 Years

by Susannah Lewis

Before there was rooftop music and shrimp and grits, there was a service station, a grocery store and soda counter conversations.

 

Photo by James Richardson
Photo by James Richardson

 

The Whistle Stop at the American Café has been a family owned and operated restaurant since 1945. It’s the oldest café in the upstate – originally built in 1932, bought by Troy Styles, Sr., then eventually passed down to his son, Troy Styles, Jr. in the mid 1960s.

Styles Jr. ran the café until his retirement in 2009. Upon his death in 2013, niece Vickie knew she had to preserve her family’s legacy and continue the business for future generations to enjoy. Her decision to buy the café was made on the way to the cemetery for her uncle’s funeral, when the procession paused out front for a “last stop” to honor him for working at the American Café for 63 years.

Vickie is the mother of six adult children, and the grandmother of 11.  Owning a restaurant was foreign to her – having never worked in the restaurant business, but rather receiving her Bachelors Degree from USC as an English major and having a Masters Degree in porcelain doll artistry.

Before there was a Swamp Rabbit Trail, there were railroad tracks. A “whistle stop” was simply an unscheduled train stop where the conductor would halt when signaled. The restaurant now serves as an unscheduled (or perhaps, scheduled) stop for walkers, joggers and cyclists utilizing the trail. If you visit today, you’ll see George Hyder, the last engineer on the Swamp Rabbit Train, pictured in the mural located on the side of historic building.

 

 

In 2013, the café was expanded and renovated into what newcomers know as “The Whistle Stop”. In the spirit of her family and the town she loves, Vickie meticulously sealed the café’s history and old-school charm. The Whistle Stop delights in taking you back to a different era – when life was slow and simple.

 

 

From the smell of the wood fired pizza oven, the sounds of an electric train chug, to the sights of the original counter, barstools, terrazzo floor and exposed brick – it’s like stepping back in time each time you step inside. During the renovation, they tripled the size of the cafe by transforming the original grocery store and service station into a dining room, in addition to adding outdoor rooftop dining and a little red caboose to serve desserts and quick service items on the trail.

 

 

Nowadays, the dining room is full any given weekday, and the rooftop rings out with live music every weekend from April to October.

It’s no wonder they’ve been recognized as one of the top restaurants in SC by “Only in Your State” in 2017, 2018, & 2019.

In addition, they’re listed in:

“Top Themed Restaurants”

“Top Restaurants with Incredible Rooftop Dining”

“One of the Top Date Night Venues in Greenville”

 

 

When you think “Small Town, USA” – you think a place like “The Whistle Stop”. When you think family values and honest, good people – you think of people like the Styles family, who created and later preserved this monumental spot in their hometown.

It’s no secret that Travelers Rest is growing rapidly. In the midst of new and unique restaurants in our quaint little downtown, this one stop proves to stand the test of time.

 

 

 

 

 

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