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Christofferson's 'incredible legacy' is a pathway to the future

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Tuesday, May 29, 2012


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“If you surround yourself with good people, especially family, it’s easy to be who you want to be,” Stan said. VandenBerghe concurred. “Stan kept employees several years. That meant he was good to his staff.”

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Stan Christofferson and his daughter, Katie, shared a few moments between vists from guests at the Stand Up For Stan fundraiser on March 29. Katie delivered Stan his first grandson earlier this spring.

Stan Christofferson and his daughter, Katie, shared a few moments between vists from guests at the Stand Up For Stan fundraiser on March 29. Katie delivered Stan his first grandson earlier this spring.



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Stan spent time at home recuperating between radiation and chemotherapy treatments. During that time he would also be taking phone calls, making lists of things to attend to at the Great Bay Oyster House.

Stan spent time at home recuperating between radiation and chemotherapy treatments. During that time he would also be taking phone calls, making lists of things to attend to at the Great Bay Oyster House.



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Carley Reeves holds her son, Tucker, 3, who was the beneficiary of the second Stand Up For Stand benefit. Tucker is battling a rare and aggressive cancer that affects the brain and spine.

Carley Reeves holds her son, Tucker, 3, who was the beneficiary of the second Stand Up For Stand benefit. Tucker is battling a rare and aggressive cancer that affects the brain and spine.



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The good times rolled at the Stand Up For Stan benefit. A guest and Stan laugh during a chat at Grace Hall.

The good times rolled at the Stand Up For Stan benefit. A guest and Stan laugh during a chat at Grace Hall.



Stan liked to be the person to make the rounds in the restaurant to talk to his friends and meet new customers. “I like being that little social butterfly,” Stan said.

McKenzie Burdette worked five years for Great Bay and is now a nurse. “I can’t say enough good about him. He worked like anyone else at the restaurant. He was no better than the busboy. You wouldn’t know he was the owner. When Stan found out I was pregnant he took me away from the bar and smoke and had me wait tables.”

Stan was the first, then Gerard’s, Jason (BIN 112) and others followed. “There was no other reason to come to Greer. There was no city park, no city hall, no restaurants and shops,” VandenBerghe said.

“They (Christoffersons) are looked upon as pioneers. They kind of kicked the door open,” Scott Harke said. “Great Bay was a reason to come off Hwy. 29 and into downtown Greer. They certainly paved the way.”

Stan said the best compliments he received were when visitors would compare Great Bay to the 42nd Street Oyster Bar in Raleigh. “That is one of the finest Oyster Bars in the southeast,” Stan said.

Sushi Mizu came about with Stan’s desire to add to the Great Bay concept. “I basically did it because of the fish. I brought in a Korean to train the staff for two months. I believe the secret to good sushi is to make the rice sticky.”

Taco Parilla was a short-lived venture for Stan. The concept was eclectic Mexican food, something Stan enjoyed. “It was something different and a neat concept,” Stan said. “I think it needed more marketing dollars that we wanted to put into it.” The location was ripe, at 104 E. Poinsett Street, across the street from Great Bay. It formerly housed Gerard’s and now is The Strip Club 104 Steak House.

Heart of the GBOH gave life to Greer Station

When the Greer Chamber of Commerce held its annual Oyster Roast and Shrimp Boil (Feb. 24), it was Stan who oversaw the cooking of the oysters. Few people expected to see him that evening. “I was between chemo and radiation two weeks before so I was well rested,” Stan said. “That’s always a fun event. I had to be there for that.”

“It was exciting to see Stan cooking,” said Mark Owens, Vice President of the Greater Greer Chamber of Commerce. A lot of people were glad to see him. He worked hard and I was trying to encourage Stan to take a break but he wouldn’t. He was happy to be there with his friends and helping.”

Great Bay Oyster House was a partner with the chamber’s annual Family Fest and Oktoberfest. Stan would set up a booth along Trade Street to sell food from his restaurant but that tailed off the past two years while he was battling cancer. “Stan was a partner and teamed with the rest of downtown during these festivals,” Owens said.

During the 2006 Oktoberfest vendors ran out of Spaten beer around 6:30 p.m., with half the evening remaining. Harke remembered Stan offering two kegs to satisfy the demands for the remainder of the event.

Last year merchants and restaurants in Greer organized a “Stand Up for Stan” benefit to help their dear friend to offset mounting medical expenses. “The outpouring from the community was amazing. It goes to show, if you do get sick, get sick in Greer,” Stan said with a wide grin.

This year’s benefit included Greer’s Tucker Reeves, 3, who is battling a rare and aggressive cancer that affects the brain and spine. Musicians from the Upstate and Columbia helped raise funds.

“That shows a lot about Stan,” Harke said. “The great thing about Stan was he was so positive and giving.”

Stan greeted each guest, spent time talking, smiling and reminiscing the good times shared among his friends and associates. He was regal, sitting in a chair, with smiling faces surrounding him.

Will McGibbon, an attorney and musician played in the fundraiser. “Stan took the business chance when nobody else did,” McGibbon said. “He brought Greenville to Greer.” Stan was his own pitchman. He would visit Greenville restaurants and tell customers there was a great place to eat in Greer – The Great Bay Oyster House.

The guests waited patiently in line to speak to Stan at the benefit. As some sat at tables Stan, with the aid of a cane, would make his way and spend time making conversation. There were many laughs coming from where Stan was visiting.

Harke said Stan reminded him of happier days. “We all have bad days and Great Bay was a great place to go when things were a little off in your life. Stan would be there saying, ‘Hey, glad to see you’re here or Happy Friday.’ He loves people and loves his customers. Stan has a giving personality and he wanted to make you feel comfortable.”
VandenBerghe said the downtown restaurant owners group is stronger for Stan’s leadership. “He was always encouraging. It’s all for the better of us and cheaper for all of us. Stan helped us to work together. He knew what it would take to make Greer great.”

Stan was on the front lines when Greer Station restaurants needed a spokesperson to verbalize their concerns and initiatives. He was the take-charge person who spoke at city council asking for an ordinance to permit alcohol sales on Sunday. That led to a referendum that was overwhelmingly affirmed by the voters.

“I love the downtown and I’m glad I went into the restaurant business,” Stan said. “It’s hard to grasp this small southern town has a worldly way with the likes of BMW and Michelin. Anybody can come into downtown and get pizza to fine dining.”

Reno Deaton, Economic Development Corp. President/CEO may have summed up Stan’s life best when he said, “(Stan) surely leaves behind an incredible legacy. What he’s done, who he is as a person and what he did in the community. We will miss him.”

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People mentioned in this article. Click a name to view more articles for that person.

Stan Christofferson

Businesses mentioned in this article.

Acme General Store, BIN112, BMW, City of Greer, Grace Hall, Greater Greer Chamber of Commerce, Greer Development Corporation

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