MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – A brand new survey shows the restaurant biz is bouncing back. NRN-MillerPulse's latest survey shows diners across the county posted bleak sales in February, but rebounded in March.
Restaurants like Toffino's and Gordon Bierscsh at the Market Common say they're on par with the new survey. They say business was slow in February, but it picked up in March. Many attribute it to the earlier Easter holiday.
"March was a really good month for us. We think it was because of how the holiday, the way that Easter fell. So we had a really good month," explained Heather Helm, a manager at Gordon Bierscsh.
As for the month of February, the new survey showed it was the first time in more than a year restaurants across the country reported a major drop in sales. Local restaurants say they don't report the dismal numbers restaurants across the nation posted, but say they did notice a slight fall.
Local economist Robert Salvino with CCU says that's not unusual for the Grand Strand. February tends to be weak because it's one of the slower tourism months in Myrtle Beach. Salvino points out though, things picked up in March. Historically, March is a good month for conventions and that brings in groups of visitors. That means more traffic coming through local eateries.
The new national restaurant industry survey points out many people put the brakes on spending in February. Industry experts say this was likely tied to concerns after the federal government announced the payroll tax holiday expired. Economist say that initial worry seems to be tapering off.
Local restaurants say they definitely felt a pinch in sales in February.
"I would agree to a certain extent. Taxes do affect people and I think and even though we're doing well. I think we could have done a little better," said Phillip Pecora, owner of Toffino's.
Brad Daniels is the executive chef for Croissants in Myrtle Beach. He says he also saw a jump in sales when March rolled around. Daniels says he's optimistic about business over the next six months, on par with the nationwide surveys results. "With all the things that are going on, I believe it's going to be a good summer, a good season," Salvino said. Most of the indicators he monitors point to a strong year for the restaurant industry - good news for the more 1,700 restaurants in the Grand Strand.