Esso Club

The Esso Club is one of the top sports bars in America that currently sits on the edge of Clemson's campus

The Esso Club was originally a gas station built by James A. Stevenson in 1933. It was the first building built on the property, aside from a small fruit stand that used to sit on the side of the road. During the 1930's the road that the Esso Club sits on, Highway 93, was the main road that led to Atlanta. This gave the service station a large number of visitors. Stevenson was also credited with purchasing the alcohol license. A man by the name of Harry O. Bodiford is credited with drinking the first beer at the station.

The service station would expand in 1938 after Stevenson purchased a neighboring plot of land. The original service station would stand until the 1959. Between the years of 1956 and 1958 this station was the only place in Clemson that you could go in, sit down, and have a beer, which is why local resident Tom Lew Ellen coined the phrase "The Esso Club". There are also stories of the establishment getting it's name due to senior privates at Clemson not having enough credits and claiming they were a part of the "Esso Club".

In 1972, a man named Bob Higby partnered with the owner at the time, he eventually bought out the station and used it to repair cars and serve gas. He rented the back part of the station to Clemson student Jack Harmon for $50 a month to open a BBQ joint. Higby also laid down brick in 1975 to make the Esso Club a larger bar.

The Esso Club first received national attention when Lewis Gizzard of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, one of the largest newspapers in the southeast, came to Clemson to write about a pep rally. He ended up staying the majority of the day at Esso and decided to write about it.

In 1985 the land was sold to Don Quattlebaum, who decided to no longer sell gas, and make the establishment a bar exclusively. During the 1980s CBS began covering Clemson sporting events. Brent Musberger began coming to the Esso every time he was in town and still mentions the bar to this day. In 1997 Sports Illustrated picked Esso as the "#2 Must See Sports Bar in the Nation." ESPN the Magazine was quoted as saying “If they had a national championship for college sports bars, The Esso Club would be our pick to win it all.” FHM magazine chose it to be #17 of the top 20 places to be on a college or pro game day. When Clemson appeared in it's first National Championship game ever in January of 2016, ESPN would do live segments from the interior and exterior of the Esso Club. Since then College Football Live has done several segments about and at The Esso Club to talk about it's history.



129 Old Greenville Hwy #1, Clemson, SC 29631