Clio restaurant’s success is ‘really something special’
Jim Helsel was a busy musician, living a hard-charging life in the big city and on the road with his band, Carolina Reign, three times named Charlotte’s Country Band of the Year.
Then he decided it was time for a change. And change, he did, trading the bright lights of Charlotte for fireflies and stars in the sleepy little town of Clio.
“I love it here,” said Helsel, who is originally from Maryland. “You can literally see every star in the sky. It’s so different from what I’m used to.”
Helsel is the driving force behind CL-10 Grill, a quaint little sandwich shop he owns with his parents, Cathy and Louis Helsel, behind their home on Society Street in Clio.
Cathy and Louis moved to Clio from Maryland around two years ago. They had been visiting Jim in Charlotte for years and loved the warm weather, finally deciding to move south themselves.
They turned to the internet looking for their dream home, and that led them to the Jincy Greene property in Clio. “Mom had always wanted an old house to fix up,” said Jim.
For his part, Jim had spent nearly a decade on the road with his band, playing 260-280 dates each year. Last October, he decided it was time for a break from that hectic lifestyle, and he joined his parents in Clio.
Though he loved the quiet country life, he couldn’t help but notice a shortage of take-out dining options outside Bennettsville. So he made a fateful decision: “I decided to open a sandwich shop.”
With his parents on board, Jim gutted what had once been the property’s “cook house,” a small outbuilding behind the home, bringing it up to restaurant standards.
He drew from his experience cooking in a Charlotte bar, as well as cooking for his band, to develop a menu that includes a variety of hot and cold sandwiches, salads, burgers, wings, and specials.
It’s a true family affair, as Jim does all the cooking, Cathy makes the cold sandwiches, and Louis handles deliveries. “It keeps all of us busy,” said Jim. “It gives us all something to do.”
None of them were prepared for just how well received the grill would be. The Clio community has turned out in force to support it, and customers come from across Marlboro County and beyond.
Initially envisioned as take-out and delivery only, there are now picnic tables outside to accommodate diners, and Helsel has plans to expand in the near future, both on the current site and with a full-service sit-down restaurant, possibly in Bennettsville.
“We were never even supposed to have tables, but people would come to pick up their food and they’d want to stay,” he said. “It’s turned into something really special.”
CL-10 Grill is located at 401 Society Street in Clio. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Call 843-586-2060 for more information.