Stopping in for lunch at The Clay Pot Coffee Shop
in downtown Florence
recently was a very pleasant surprise. The food was excellent, the restaurant is charming, and I got to chat with owner Peggy Brown.
She uses local and organic produce and meats, but local and sustainable applies to more than the food here, from Brown’s pottery – her studio is in the back of the restaurant – to the T-shirts to the Cashua coffee
While “coffee shop” is part of the name of the restaurant, it’s much more than a coffee shop. Sure, there’s a great selection of muffins, breads and cookies, the signature bagels and lox, and a featured quiche. But there’s also a great lunch special every day, and I happened to visit on Sista’s Hot Chicken Salad day.
The recipe is from Brown’s husband’s family, and at The Clay Pot, it starts with free-range chicken from David White’s farm in Darlington, Oaklyn Plantation
. With spices, celery, spring onions and bell pepper, it was delicious. It was served with Sista’s squash casserole, tomato and cantaloupe slices and grapes. Brown told me where almost every fruit and vegetable was grown, and they were all very local.
The Clay Pot is open through breakfast and lunch every day and is also open for dinner Wednesday through Saturday. Live entertainment is often featured on Sundays and weekend nights.
The Clay Pot is also more than a restaurant. In addition to Brown’s pottery studio being in the back, much of her work is on display and for sale. Works by other local artists are displayed throughout the restaurant and in a small gallery in the back.
One piece of art that Brown is especially proud of is a mural in the bathroom. “Heart Avatar” was painted by Anthony Dominguez, an artist who lived, by choice, homeless, in New York City. He considered himself free rather than homeless. When he came through Florence to visit his friend, artist Robert Garey, Brown arranged for him to paint the mural.
Garey also painted two murals outside the restaurant in an outdoor seating area. One depicts artist William H. Johnson
, who was born in Florence
in 1901. Although he became a major artist before his death in 1970, he got little attention in his hometown until recently.
A combination art studio and restaurant makes perfect sense to Brown.
“The food is an art,” she says.
For proof, take a look at her food such as her peach cake, made with local peaches, local four and organic eggs.