New Cayce restaurant serving up family-style favorites

Willie and Mary Robinson invite you to enjoy home-cooked favorites from their kitchen at Down Home Café in Cayce. (photo by Rachel Ham)

Willie and Mary Robinson invite you to enjoy home-cooked favorites from their kitchen at Down Home Café in Cayce. (photo by Rachel Ham)

With her husband, Willie, by her side, Mary Robinson has returned to the restaurant game and is dishing up Southern specials from hamburgers to gizzards to pork chops.

Robinson first operated The Snack Box on Charleston Highway in 2000 as “grab n’ go” eatery for busy workers. Now she’s aiming to give people a reason to sit down and enjoy a home-cooked meal from her own kitchen at Down Home Café on Poplar Street.

“It’s more of a full-course-meal-style here,” she said. “I wanted to bring back the family atmosphere to the area.”

Robinson is no stranger to the neighborhood on Poplar Street or to Cayce. She grew up in the city and had several relatives who lived in the community where she has set up shop.

When she first thought about opening another restaurant, Robinson gathered expertise and advice from family.

“I come from a family of cooks,” she said. “My grandmother had a small business, and I’ve always been business minded.”

Robinson launched her second restaurant venture in the strip mall across from Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church with support from her husband.

“I didn’t want to work for anyone else and decided this was the time,” she said. “I know what I want to send out to people.”

Plates arrive at the tables at Down Home Café full of Southern favorites like rice and gravy, mac and cheese, fried pork chops and homemade pies and cakes. The menu always features a daily special.

“We have all your home-cooked food,” Robinson said.

Down Home Café opened just two months ago, and it’s starting to gain notoriety in the community. Robinson said workers from local plants like SCANA and Owen Steel have been faithful patrons along with families who live in the immediate neighborhood.

“They’re happy when they come,” she said. “They say they’ll be repeat customers.”

The Robinsons, along with youngest son Eric, are the primary ones who keep both the kitchen and dining room running, but family and friends have found other ways to help out. Robinson said many people have volunteered to pass out menus in their communities.

“People want us to stay,” she said. “We will grow, but it’ll take time.”

New recipes are added often — after Robinson tests them out on her family — and the cafe does accept special requests.

Down Home Café is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday at 1446-A Poplar St. Questions about the cafe or the menu can be answered by calling 764-0621. Takeout or delivery orders are welcome.

Categories: Business