Whitney and Roy Easler are serving up Southern favorites, and preserving the legacy of Eva’s Restaurant.
While not life-long residents of Summerville, Whitney and Roy Easler are very familiar with the area. The couple has frequently visited extended family here over the years and each time they visited, they fell more and more in love with the charm that the little town possesses. The pair, while both “Carolina at heart,” spent a respectable amount of their lives in Florida, perfecting the science of serving others: the husband and wife team have a combined 65 years of experience in both the restaurant and the hospitality industry. Whitney and Roy both expected to eventually retire in South Carolina to be closer to family, but what they were not expecting was a call from a family member inviting them to consider relocating to the Palmetto State a little earlier than they planned. One of Summerville’s oldest eateries, known as Eva’s On Main, was for sale and in desperate need of the right people to take ownership. The original owners, Eva and Eddie Hinson, purchased the restaurant in 1944 with the intention of running the restaurant together. Eddie soon realized the restaurant world was not meant for him and gave his wife full control of the business. With Eva at the helm, they appropriately named it “Eva’s.” Eva put her whole self into the business, from ensuring the best food to making accessible the best quality kitchen equipment (such as these equipment stands, for instance) to ease the work of her chefs. Many patrons can still recall Eva sitting in her rocking chair in the kitchen, shucking peas or peeling potatoes. Sadly, Eva passed away in 2011, and just a handful of years later, it went up for sale. Those who know the Easlers well remarked that if anyone could revitalize this small-town classic that is so dear to the hearts of so many locals, it would be them. The couple was excited, not only about the prospect of being closer to family, but also to respectfully bringing new life into this classic landmark.
It can be quite intimidating to reopen a restaurant that has been a Summerville staple for nearly 76 years, but the Easlers were up for the challenge. They understood that there were many obstacles they needed to overcome, as well as many hearts to win over. The couple has made every choice with intention, style, and grace. Prior to purchasing the restaurant, Whitney and Roy journeyed to Summerville to experience Eva’s first hand to see if it was the right fit for them. With their heads full of ideas on how they could bring this soulful classic back to life, they already had an entirely new menu in mind for the establishment. The moment they walked in the door of Eva’s, their minds changed. They quickly came to the realization of just how important it is to stick to the roots of what the Hinson’s grew. After visiting the restaurant, the Easlers were sold. The couple knew they could keep Eva’s spirit alive while simultaneously bringing their own creativity into the mix. They purchased the restaurant, and on New Year’s Day of 2019, Whitney and Roy opened the doors to Eva’s on Main.
The couple made sure to pay homage to the original Eva’s in many ways in their new venture. Not wanting to disappoint long-time patrons, the Easlers kept the majority of Eva’s original menu items, adding their own signature dishes that appeal to foodies both new and old. They continue to employ the people who worked there when Mrs. Eva was still alive; some having been trained by Eva herself. The walls of the restaurant are adorned with old photographs of the Hinson family and antique plates that Eva collected over the years. But most of all, the couple’s favorite tradition is enjoying the community around them. They adore their customers: from the older customers who vividly remember going to Eva’s as children to the first-timers, Whitney and Roy treasure their relationship with people from every background. All are welcome at Eva’s; their incredible customer service and all-inclusive atmosphere makes that apparent. They believe that having diversity in their business, with both their employees and their clientele, is the recipe for success. Their success is evident, especially during their Saturday and Sunday brunch, which regularly creates lines out of the door as hungry patrons gather for a surely delicious meal.
The COVID-19 pandemic has posed a few problems for the restaurant, but the couple-and Eva’s on Main-is persevering through it. They take safety standards extremely seriously with constant disinfecting, requiring masks for customers, both masks and gloves for employees, practicing suggested guidelines for social distancing, and offering a contact-free curbside service. Customer service is the restaurant’s number one priority, and keeping their patrons safe is an intentionally-practiced part of their routine.
The way that the Easlers have taken on the responsibility of shepherding such an important part of Summerville’s culture into an elevated new era while respecting those who came before them is impressive and sure to win the hearts of even the most die-hard original Eva’s fan. As the new Eva’s on Main motto states, they provide a “Southern comfort menu with a strong dose of Southern Hospitality.” It is that Southern hospitality that will ensure a fruitful venture for years to come, no matter what life throws their way.
Eva’s on Main is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9am to 3pm. They offer dine-in, take-out, and curbside pickup and are located at 129 South Main Street, Summerville, SC 29483. You can learn more by visiting their website, www.evasonmain.com , or by calling them at 843-873-5081.
By Jessie Devereaux Mitcham