New owners of Eva’s On Main said they want the public to know that the beloved downtown Summerville restaurant will stay mostly the same, as it has been for a half-century.
Co-owner Whitney Easler said regular patrons have pleaded with her and owner Ray Easler to keep the iconic eatery operating the way it did when its original owner, Eva Hinson, was in charge.
“(Hinson) has been a staple in this community up until the time that she passed away,” Whitney Easler said. “I can’t tell you the number of locals we have met and spoken with who remember her peeling potatoes or snapping beans, sitting in a rocking chair in the kitchen.”
After Hinson died in 2011, her restaurant changed hands several times until the Easlers purchased it at the end of last year. Located at 129 S. Main Street in Summerville, the cozy diner-like eatery sits directly across from Hutchinson Square.
The couple said they were living in Florida when they learned the business was for sale. With family members living in Summerville, Mt. Pleasant and North Charleston, the Easlers said it was the perfect opportunity to relocate to the Lowcountry, where they had always planned to settle.
Whitney Easler said she and her husband visited Summerville in October and dined at Eva’s on Main to “scope it out.” After exploring the menu and meeting locals, she began researching the iconic restaurant’s history. She learned that Hinson opened her restaurant in the early 1940s and then moved it to the Main Street location in 1952.
“We saw that it was primarily southern comfort food that she served,” Whitney Easler said. “Everything fresh, nothing processed;and that’s what we’re all about as well.”
Ray Easler has 40 years of experience in the hospitality industry and his wife also devoted her career to hospitality. Whitney Easler started out waiting tables while in college at the University of South Carolina before working her way up to director of convention and catering services at large clubs. Later she began doing marketing and operations within the industry.
At Eva’s on Main, Ray Easler works with longtime Kitchen Manager Beanie Hunt to keep the kitchen running smoothly; his wife takes care of the customer service side.
“I focus on the front of the house — meeting our customers, making sure they’re attended to,” Whitney Easler said.
As far as the menu goes, she said it’s similar to what Hinson offered.
“Eva was known for offering a selection of meats and a choice of two or three side items — mostly fresh vegetables,” Whitney Easler said.
The couple explained how they thought it was best to “keep it simple” and even added the tagline “simply southern” to their business name.
While most of the classic menu remains the same, a few new items have been added. They include the “Heaven’s to Betsy Special,” a farmer’s omelet with home fries and smothered in sausage gravy, and the “sweet and savory” selection — a french baguette dipped in Eva’s secret batter, topped with a praline drizzle and toasted pecans.
In the past month-and-a-half, Whitney Easler said she’s witnessed business steadily increase, with customers praising the pair for their work to re-establish the popular comfort food hub.
“It’s been amazing. We have met so many kind and welcoming people from Summerville, Goose Creek, Moncks Corner and Charleston,” she said. “Everyone has been so supportive and made us feel so welcome.”
As for the future of Eva’s On Main, Whitney Easler said because the building is showing some wear, renovations will get underway to paint the walls, repair the booths and replace kitchen equipment.
No matter what cosmetic changes take place, she said the restaurant will retain its “old time, quaint environment.”
“We think of ourselves as providing Southern comfort with Southern hospitality,” Easler said. “We want people to feel like this is home. They can come here and have breakfast or lunch with their families, with their friends.”