Meeting Place

A new development welcomes all to one of the most beautiful places to eat and drink in Summerville.

There’s no place like home, as the old adage says, but some places just feel more familiar than others. That’s the case with the Corner House Cafe at Summers Corner in Summerville, where a team of ardent individuals have worked diligently to create a comfortable and welcome space for all who visit.

Summers Corner, a new development situated off of Highway 61 on the outskirts of town, is the product of a simple mission —to create a community where people can connect with nature and each other. Homes are being built around lush gardens, a new state-of-the-art school is in the works, and thoughtfully planned events are already bringing locals together within the budding community. At its heart, the Corner House Cafe sits, open and inviting. This is the place to be in this neck of the woods; an airy, modern place that encourages visitors to stop in and stay a while. Though appearing effortless in its design, the neighborhood and cafe were expertly planned and executed, starting with a series of Jeffersonian Dinners. At these events, the Summers Corner team invited dozens of hand-picked locals from all walks of life to dine together and discuss one simple idea: what their ideal neighborhood would look like. At each dinner, the answers shared a common thought: the ideal neighborhood feels like home. Often regaled with stories of grandparent’s houses, relative’s farms, and family gardens, the team took note, and set out to create an atmosphere that reminded people of those memories.

The Corner House Cafe embodies the efforts of the team, inside and out. Sitting adjacent to the entrance of the neighborhood, it is surrounded by benches, greenery, fountains, and sculpture.  Inside, large windows and hanging plants provide a light and airy element to the space. A simple counter and deli case are flanked by a long wooden bar with welcoming stools, and various wooden tables and bright chairs pepper the rest of the cafe, cheerfully awaiting guests. Beyond, a sitting room is inviting with plush couches and chairs, along with a few toys for little ones. Behind the counter, Corner House Cafe manager JA Moore greets visitors—often by name, if they’ve visited before—with a wide smile and a welcoming presence.

Moore grew up in small town South Carolina, helping his mother cook every Sunday, and went on to study Culinary Arts at Johnson and Wales University. He made the rounds through Charleston restaurants, with stints at the Mills House Hotel, Duvall Catering, and Black Bean Company, among others. Near to his heart is his experience with the nonprofit Metanoia, working as a community chef in the poorest communities in Charleston and offering lessons on cooking healthy meals to residents young and old. When Summers Corner began searching for the perfect, community-oriented chef to manage their new cafe, they consulted with the players at downtown hotspot Butcher and Bee, who immediately referred them to JA Moore. Moore answered the call, and was soon settling into his new position.

“I liked what Summers Corner was doing,” explains Moore. “I loved the small town feel of the space, and the garden atmosphere reminded me of my grandma’s five acre farm. I’m so in love with the brand here —we all are—and that’s a genuine thing. It’s not marketing speak. We really feel like there’s something incredibly special about this place out here.”

Moore is especially interested in highlighting local artisans, and the cafe is ripe with offerings from Palmetto State creators. Soda from Charleston-based Cannonborough Beverage Company and beer from North Charleston’s Freehouse Brewery are on tap, along with a selection of regional and international wines and Counter Culture Coffee. Sweet teeth can be satiated with popsicles by North Charleston’s King of Pops or small-batch artisan ice cream from Charleston’s Cirsea Ice Cream company. Along one wall, a table offers locally-made items for purchase, including honey from Summerville’s Must Bee Honey and dog toys from Charleston canine favorite, Harry Barker Toys. As much as possible, Moore and the rest of the cafe team try to source ingredients for the sandwiches, salads, soups, and other menu items from local farmers, an effort that will see even more activity in the future.

“My goal for this year is to focus on creating daily specials featuring locally made and grown products and ingredients,” shares Moore.

As word of the beautiful cafe and its offerings has spread, the team at Summers Corner has been delighted to witness it taking on multiple forms to fit the profiles of the people who visit. A group of children from a nearby neighborhood have claimed it as their designated after-school spot, leaving the parents at home and meeting there regularly for root beer, sandwiches, and homework. A few women gather together on a weekly basis for wine and conversation, catching up as openly and comfortably as if they were in one of their own homes. Travelers passing through on adjacent Highway 61 often stop in to stretch their legs and refuel their bodies, and Summerville locals meet up for personal and business meetings daily. Above all, Moore and the team hope that the cafe becomes exactly what each person needs it to be.

“The idea is for people to utilize this space to fit their needs,” explains Moore. “If they’re not at home or work, we want people to feel comfortable here, like this is a third place that is just for them.”

As the centerpiece of Summers Corner, the cafe reflects all the intentions and thoughts that the team hoped to instill into the neighborhood. No matter if one lives in an old log cabin or newly constructed mansion, a dark basement apartment or a skyscraper penthouse, a modest suburban home or bustling city abode, there is just something that makes everyone feel at home here. Summerville is not lacking in beautiful places to dine and to visit, but with the care and attention to detail given at the Corner House Cafe, this space easily finds a comfortable place at the top of the list.

The Corner House Cafe at Summers Corner is open Monday-Saturday from 10am-5pm, and Sunday 1pm-5pm.

By Jana Riley