SANTEE, S.C. -- Clark's Inn and Restaurant, Santee's oldest business founded in 1947, has been touted for offering "The South's Best Road Food" in the November issue of Southern Living magazine.
Clark's Inn and Restaurant is located about halfway between New York and Miami just off Exit 98, and was one of three Interstate 95 pit stops suggested to "take a break and refuel" off one of the region's busiest routes.
According to the venerable publication, Clark's was selected for its "old-school, steak-and-seafood dining; expect white table cloths and a clubby bar catering to road-weary travelers and folks staying at the attached Inn."
William E. Clark, the late founder of Clark's Inn and Restaurant, moved the restaurant from Highway 301 to its current location on Old Number Six Highway in 1971 — just as the I-95 phase through South Carolina was being completed providing Clark's immediate visibility.
"It's a big deal to be mentioned in Southern Living," said Bill Clark, the Inn's second-generation owner who also was recently named Grand Marshal of the town's annual Christmas parade. "It's a big deal for us and it's good for Santee."
Equally popular among locals and visiting golfers, the same "flavor" carried through the years — from recipes handed down from the restaurant's founding matriarch and longtime cook staff to the third-generation food service manager, Winfield Clark — represents what guests have come to expect at Clark's.
"I'd like to think we're known for our filet mignon and seafood, but we're really known for our fried chicken," said Kittie Collier, who has been Clark's general manager for nine years and was a longtime customer prior to that.
The Inn and restaurant reflect a comfortable, masculine high-end flare that caters to both "the Palm Beach set to the local farmers," as well as numerous golfers, Bill Clark said.
Despite the Inn's five redesigns and various additions and upgrades through the years, little has changed among either the long-time staff or the down-home cooking.
Clark's assortment of accommodations situated among multiple buildings behind its acclaimed restaurant, bar and gift shop includes newer two-room suites feature a living quarter, bedroom with a full bath and a dressing area with a vanity. The living room features a wet bar complete with a small refrigerator, sink and microwave.
In addition to king deluxe and king business options, there are the Bradford and Santee two double-bed rooms, the latter highly popular for golfers using the Old Santee Hospitality Room.
As for other "Bests" in Santee (population 800), golf certainly tops the list across "America's Value Golf Destination."
Located just off the south shore of picturesque Lake Marion, where a number of world records have been set through the years for large-mouth catfish and sea bass, Santee offers — all in one I-95 exit — three lakeside golf courses with an additional 14 layouts within a half-hour drive.
In fact, the trio of courses located in town is less than a mile apart with Clark's conveniently situated at the midpoint. Santee National, Santee Cooper Resort and Lake Marion G.C. provide wide fairways, challenging greens, water hazards and impeccable maintenance, and have all been upgraded through the years.
Meanwhile, five more courses are located on the north side of Lake Marion about 20 minutes away, the must-plays headed by the Tom Jackson-designed Wyboo Golf Club and the Players Course at Wyboo Plantation. With Interstate 26 just a few more miles south, golfers can make a short day trip to Charleston and play the likes of The Links at Stono Ferry, Legend Oaks, Westcott Plantation and Charleston National to name a few.
Clearly, Santee's quality, value and convenience are a considerable part of the reason more than 50,000 golfers arrive from northern destinations each year. For as little as $55 daily (low season), they get a nice room, a round of golf with a cart on one of the area's 17 courses — and for good measure one of the best meals in the South at Clark's Inn and Restaurant.
Learn more at www.ClarksInnandRestaurant.com and find more information on the town of Santee at www.SanteeTourism.com.
Martin Armes, 919-608-7260, firstname.lastname@example.org
Brad King, 336-306-9219, email@example.com