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Coffee Pot Diner – Cordova, South Carolina

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A sheet metal likeness of a coffeepot sits atop a defunct diner in the rural Orangeburg County town of Cordova. The former restaurant conspicuously marked by this sculpture was called – what else? – the Coffee Pot Diner and served hungry travelers along US 301 from around 1950 until 1979. While the diner is no longer in business, its larger-than-life coffee pot, standing at six feet and weighing 250 pounds, still attracts photographers and those in search of roadside curiosities.

Coffeepot Diner Cordova

Treva Thomas Hammond of Rock Hill, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The small brick building sits on 2.6 acres of land once owned by Thomas Woodrow Gray. Gray sold the land in 1950 to a British couple who had moved south from Niagra Falls, New York. The couple – the late Emily and Frederick Griffin – initially moved to Florida from New York, but shortly after settling there they decided to move slightly north and open a tearoom. The Griffins then purchased a restaurant in Jesup, Georgia, but the sale collapsed before they could take ownership. Figuring they had nothing to lose, legend has it that Frederick blindly pointed to a map and declared wherever his finger landed would be their future home. His finger landed in Cordova, South Carolina.

Coffeepot Diner

David Shull of Elloree, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Once the Griffins relocated to the area, which was surrounded mostly by farmland, they thought it wise to abandon their tearoom idea and promote a coffee house diner instead, figuring it would be more appealing to their hard-working clientele. The Griffins were right, and their prime location on Highway 301 served the business well until Interstate 95 rerouted customers. The Griffins had no children and wanted to offer the Gray family the opportunity to purchase the land after their deaths. Thomas Gray’s son, Thomas “Buck” Gray, bought the land in 2008. While he has no plans to reopen the restaurant, he does maintain its iconic coffee pot.

The giant coffee pot was knocked from the building during a storm in January 2013. Gray wasted no time repairing and replacing the local landmark.

Reflections on the Coffee Pot Diner

Contributor David Shull says, “Everyone who drives 301 between Orangeburg and Bamberg should know this landmark. It was damaged in a storm once and rebuilt.”

Add your own reflections here.

Coffee Pot Diner Info

Address: United States Highway 301, Cordova, SC 29039
GPS Coordinates: 33.439732,-80.957279

Coffee Pot Diner Map

Coffee Pot Diner – Add Info and More Photos

The purpose of the South Carolina Picture Project is to celebrate the beauty of the Palmetto State and create a permanent digital repository for our cultural landmarks and natural landscapes. We invite you to add additional pictures (paintings, photos, etc) of Coffee Pot Diner, and we also invite you to add info, history, stories, and travel tips. Together, we hope to build one of the best and most loved SC resources in the world!

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The South Carolina Picture Project is a volunteer project which earns no profit. We work hard to ensure its accuracy, but if you see a mistake, please know that it is not intentional and that we are more than happy to update our information if it is incorrect. That said, our goal is to create something positive for our state, so please make your comments constructive if you would like them to be published. Thank you!

3 Comments about Coffee Pot Diner

SCIWAYNo Gravatar says:
March 29th, 2017 at 8:27 am

Thank you for sharing!

Lee FaganNo Gravatar says:
March 28th, 2017 at 6:14 pm

The Griffins did have one child, my grandfather Roland Ross, who passed away prior to them. My great grandparents were wonderful people and loved South Carolina and this area of Highway 301. My sister, cousins, and I spent many summers visiting my great grandparents in the summers of our youth. We began each day with an early morning visit to the Coffee Pot. My great grandfather and his father built the restaurant, surrounding houses, shuffleboard courts, windmills, and other little projects with their own hands. Many thanks to Buck Gray for maintaining not only the building, but the Coffee Pot itself.

M. FoellNo Gravatar says:
April 22nd, 2015 at 11:24 am

Uncle Fred and Aunt Em built the house they lived in adjacent to “The Coffee Pot” Restaurant as well. Fred researched the best way to build a home that would be storm tolerant. Seems to have worked … other than the pot falling.

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