SC restaurant named one of the most romantic in the world by CNN Travel. Check it out

·2 min read
Jenifer Roger Minelli/Provided

Michael Minelli was caught just a wee bit off guard when CNN Travel named his restaurant one of the most romantic in the world.

Not to say he doesn’t think Passerelle Bistro isn’t romantic. The twinkling lights on the patio of an evening, the roar of Reedy River Falls, the French meals that roll out of the kitchen thanks to the chef, his wife Jenifer.

It’s just that, isn’t most the romantic place in Paris or Rome?

Not according to CNN Travel. It’s in Greenville.

It’s one more accolade for Greenville and Greenville places as the city has come back from despair to a vibrant, livable place. Just Tuesday, Greenville was named 15th most affordable city in the U.S. The list of ‘best of’ lists for Greenville is extensive.

Minelli said he was drawn to Greenville after attending his sister’s wedding. He had lived in New Jersey and Las Vegas, worked in New York City, in the restaurant business most of his working life.

He went to work at Soby’s, credited with jump-starting the restaurant scene in Greenville that has grown to some 100 downtown eateries.

Minelli said working alongside Carl Sobocinski, owner of Table 301, Soby’s parent company, was essential in his development as an owner of his own restaurant.

Passerelle was once one of Table 301’s creations. Sobocinski has long espoused the idea of developing concepts and passing them on to able hands.

Minelli said he had never been inside Passerelle when Sobocinski mentioned the restaurant.

“I didn’t realize how great the location is,” he said.

He started with a 10% stake, then 49%, then full ownership in January 2021. His wife is the executive chef. The partnership, Minelli believes, was meant to be. He was working at Soby’s and when Jenifer walked in on her first day of work, he knew she would one day be his wife.

She thought he didn’t like her, until one day they pulled up at a red light in downtown Greenville after work. They rolled down their windows and he asked her out for a drink.

Now they have a 3-year-old and a restaurant.

A restaurant named most romantic. In the world.

“It’s been a wild ride,” he said.

They came through COVID shutdown and the pandemic. He turned 40 last year, a milestone he had long said he wanted to own a restaurant by.

“It’s been nothing but great,” he said. “I get misty-eyed.”