Porter Jacks: Great steaks and family atmosphere

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Asked about her decorating theme, Wendy Davis, owner of Porter Jacks Grill in Manning, said, "It's eclectic."

Davis said she started scouring every "yard sale and flea market in creation" after making the decision to open the restaurant. There is everything from celebrity gnomes to wheels from old farm equipment hanging from the walls. There is even a boat from a Jimmy Buffet restaurant.

"Every piece has a story," she said.

Somehow, Davis makes it all come together.

But diners don't come for the d cor; they come for the food and the family atmosphere, she said.

Davis said the main menu features steaks, a little bit of seafood and Southern classics as well as beer and wine.

She said she chose not to offer liquor.

"We wanted to keep it a family atmosphere," she said.

Besides the steaks, customer favorites are the shrimp and grits and Palmetto Chicken, a grilled chicken breast topped with pimento cheese and bacon.

Davis said the steaks are premium-cut steaks aged 21 days.

"Everybody says it's the best steak they've had," she said.

Wendy is the wife of Manning City Councilman Ervin Davis, and she said most of her family works together in the store.

She said her daughter, Hannah, who works in the kitchen, will start culinary school at Trident Charleston on Aug. 21.

"I'm super excited about Hannah going to culinary school and showing us what we did wrong," Wendy Davis said.

Wendy Davis said she wanted to open a restaurant because she worked in the business in the 1990s at Applebee's in Sumter.

"I took time off to raise children," she said.

Her husband, Ervin, works as a greeter in the store at nights.

"He's a great greeter; people like that," she said.

She said getting the store opened wasn't easy.

The building had once been a China Buffet, but everything in the kitchen besides the walk-ins and sinks had to be replaced, she said.

"We even had to repair the walk-ins," Davis said.

She said a back room for private events is still under construction, and an outdoor patio is planned as well.

"There's definitely room for growth," she said. "We're taking it one step at a time."

Porter Jack offers specials every day, Davis said.

"The popular ones we add to our regular menu; we change it about every three months," Davis said.

Having a great staff front and back helps everything run smoothly.

"I give them freedom to create new stuff," she said.

She said her customers are open to anything.

"Whatever we put on the board, they are willing to try it," Davis said.

Competing against some of Manning's dining traditions such as D&H Barbecue and Manning Restaurant isn't a problem.

"We're different; we all bring something different to the table," she said. "Nobody wants to eat the same thing every night."

Besides its dine-in menu, Porter Jacks also has takeout and delivery within the city limits of Manning, she said. On Mondays and Tuesdays, when the restaurant is closed, large parties can reserve the entire place.

Porter Jacks Grill is at 505 S. Mill St. in Manning. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday.

For more information, call (803) 433-5000.