New Restaurant Taking Over Downtown Rock Hill’s Historic McCrory’s Building Known For Friendship Nine Sit-In

Restaurant and event space Kounter by Chef Rob Masone to occupy 8,600 square feet

ROCK HILL, S.C.A new restaurant is making its way into downtown Rock Hill.

Developers JD Yearwood and Justin Mueller will kick-start renovations at the historic McCrory’s Building in downtown this month and have signed a lease for a restaurant and event space operated by Chef Rob Masone of Kre8 Xperiences.

Rob Masone plans to open a 2,600-square-foot restaurant called “Kounter” and a 6,000-square-foot event space this fall. The restaurant’s name, logo and design are a nod to the historic building’s role in the 1961 Friendship Nine sit-in and will incorporate the historic lunch counter and stools where African-American students from Friendship College, known as the Friendship Nine, were denied service and arrested after staging their sit-in at McCrory’s Five and Dime.

A Rock Hill native, Masone owns Kre8, a full-service catering and events company, as well as the Kre8 Twisted Eats beer-inspired food trucks and gastropub located inside Wooden Robot Brewery in South End.

“Having grown up here, I couldn’t be more excited to enter the culinary scene in Rock Hill,” Masone said. “This is the perfect opportunity to pair our Kre8 Events style with an on-site venue and a brick-and-mortar restaurant, a home to showcase what we do on all fronts every day. Charlotte has been and will continue to be very important to Kre8, but I’m looking forward to being able to give back to the community that I grew up in and see familiar faces every day!”

Yearwood, a senior vice president with Park Commercial Real Estate, and Mueller, recently acquired the property and are planning improvements to the building’s exterior façade, including a new central archway, brick veneer and arched windows on the second floor.

In addition to updating the restaurant and event space, the developers will also enhance the building’s common areas and plan to install a new break room and conference room for existing and future office tenants. All renovations at the building were approved by Rock Hill’s historic review board.

“We are passionate about investing in and revitalizing urban infill projects in the Charlotte region, and downtown Rock Hill has been on our radar,” Mueller and Yearwood said. “With its historical significance and the important role the Friendship Nine played in the civil rights movement, this is a very special project, and we could not have found a better partner to bring it back to life than Chef Rob.”

Located at 135 E. Main Street in Rock Hill, the McCrory’s Building was built in 1901 and totals 22,920 square feet, approximately half of which is leased to office tenants, including the Piedmont Regional Association of Realtors and Edward Jones. Yearwood is marketing the available office space for lease. For more information, visit

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