Crate Restaurant & Wine Bar proprietor juggles entrepreneurship

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Jacquette Land wasn’t trying to make history when she decided to open the Crate Restaurant & Wine Bar in Greer.

She happened to become the first black restaurant owner in the city’s booming central business district.

According to JW Gregory, the owner of the nearly 53-year-old Gregory’s boutique on West Poinsett Street in Greer. His mother, Grace, had the first black-owned downtown restaurant a six-minute walk from Land, where Land opened her new business.

While she views her historic status in the city as “powerful,” it never crossed her mind when she decided to open on Trade Street in 2019.

“I saw what Greer did with downtown and the revitalization, and I just wanted to be a part of it,” Land said.

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Lots of other entrepreneurs too. Greer’s $ 11 million street image project in its central business district has helped attract the eight new businesses that have recently opened or will open this year.

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Jacquette Land, owner of Crate Restaurant & Wine Bar, poses for a portrait at her restaurant in downtown Greer on Thursday April 1, 2021. (Photo: JOSH MORGAN / Staff)

In addition, six existing companies have announced plans to expand, according to Sharon Self, market and research director for Greer Area Development Corp.

Similarly, Lands Restaurant in Greer was an extension of their business ownership.

Land has owned restaurants in places like Charlotte, Gastonia, and Atlanta.

Today she is also a partner in a luxury car rental company, Lux Motorsports, in Atlanta.

With this company, as required by typical rental agencies, those who lack credit cards can continue to rent brands such as Mercedes Benz, Aston Martin, Rolls Royce, and Bentleys.

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Land is also a partner in a security security app called Location Lockbox, which was originally launched over a year ago. Then COVID-19 happened. The app has now been restarted.

And she’s the owner of a prison inspectorate that oversees prisons across the US. She is the only minority-owned commissioner firm and the only women-owned commissioner in the country.

E-Ford Commissary currently serves all 54 state prisons in New York state, which has approximately 150,000 inmates, Land said. It sells products to inmates, their friends, and their family members.

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Jacquette Land, owner of Crate Restaurant & Wine Bar, poses for a portrait at her restaurant in downtown Greer on Thursday April 1, 2021. (Photo: JOSH MORGAN / Staff)

In the past six months, Land has received three major contracts with the state of New York.

While she said she had no answers when asked how and why she became a serial entrepreneur, Land said, “It was definitely a blessing.”

Her eight-year-old daughter, who she looks after as a single mother while she runs several businesses, is also a blessing.

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Land’s husband died of a heart attack over a year ago, and his death occurred the same day she was given permission to open Crate, she said.

The restaurant staff, Christ Church Episcopal School, and customers have been “super supportive” and helpful since her husband’s death, Land said.

“I can’t ask to be in a better place. It’s tough, but it’s only one day at a time.”

Building businesses in the south

Land came to the area after living in Charlotte for 21 years. At one time, Charlotte was also flourishing and experiencing a revival, Land said.

“I just saw the opportunities and growth of the south,” she said.

Land originally attended a nursing school. She was drawn to this field by her grandmother, who raised her.

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We were “eight in the household,” said Land. “I was the oldest and watched her work (as a nurse) 80 hours a week.

“As an elder, it was my responsibility to look after the rest of my brothers and cousins,” she said. “I think growing up like that never left me.”

The people Land surrounded itself with and those she met were entrepreneurs. One thing that stayed with country is the influence of growing up with grandparents who owned restaurants.

“I grew up serving people in the back of restaurants,” said Land, who was the head chef for two of her restaurants. “I have a love for it.”

How Greer supported local restaurants during the pandemic

Land said she definitely felt love from the Greer community during the pandemic.

“We’d have people queuing outside during the pandemic to say we don’t want you to close,” Land said. “We got customers to buy everything off the menu at least once or twice a week.

“I’ve never seen this in Charlotte, which is a major city,” she said. “I’ve never seen this in Gastonia. I’ve never seen it in restaurants I’ve worked with in Atlanta.”

In fact, Land said she has never seen a community come together like it did in Greer during this pandemic.

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Jacquette Land, owner of Crate Restaurant & Wine Bar, poses for a portrait at her restaurant in downtown Greer on Thursday April 1, 2021. (Photo: JOSH MORGAN / Staff)

“I think that’s why none of the 18 restaurants (in downtown Greer) closed during the pandemic,” she said.

With Crate Restaurant & Wine Bar, Land said she wanted to bring in food that she had experienced in her travels, from her own kitchens and from celebrity chefs in her restaurants.

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The restaurant offers Mediterranean cuisine, including shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles, Cajun noodles, beef ribs and much more.

“I wanted to bring some of the higher quality comfort food into this area because I haven’t seen much of it,” she said.

The restaurant can be compared to her description of the support that Land received: “just different.”

“I love the people, the energy,” she said. “Everyone was helpful. When I was doing the renovation, even the construction workers came in and helped out. I just couldn’t ask for a better community, honestly.”

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