MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - If there's a place in the Grand Strand you've been wanting to try, this is the time to do it. Friday kicks off the first weekend of South Carolina's Restaurant Week in Myrtle Beach, where diners can sample the different flavors of 14 different restaurants in the Grand Strand and the Pee Dee at a set menu price.
Restaurants have been busy preparing three-course meals for a deal, but it goes beyond the table, as the week also helps with the books. With the tourists gone, it serves as a much-needed source of business at a slow time of the year. WMBF News talked with a restaurant owner who has been participating in restaurant week for the past four years, and he says the event helps grab more long-term business.
"We're not trying to make a bunch of money," said Curry Martin, chef and owner of Aspen Grille. "We want people to come in to try the restaurant, and then hopefully they'll come back and try us with our regular menu."
Martin also says that the phone has already been constantly ringing for restaurant week. So if you do have plans to dine this weekend at any of the restaurants, be sure to make a reservation. Restaurant week continues through January 19, but it could be back for another round.
The list of restaurants participating is actually short. Although there are more than 1,700 restaurants in the Grand Strand, only 14 are participating in this year's restaurant week.
Stephen Greene, the CEO of The Myrtle Beach Area Hospitality Association (MBAHA) say it's all a matter of timing. Restaurant week is set in January by the state, for all regions to join in and participate at the same time. But for Myrtle Beach, this is the time for restaurants to take a break and gear up for the next tourist season. All across the area, you'll see restaurants that have shut down for a couple of weeks like Mr. Fish, some that have closed for the season, and others are in the process of transforming into something completely new, like the former Nibils restaurant.
Being one of the most-visited areas in the state, the Grand Strand is now creating its own spin on restaurant week. The MBAHA is putting together another separate week unique to our area, at a time when those here can really take advantage.
"For us, it's different than for a lot of other regions in the state," explained Greene. "But we're always trying to get more restaurants involved for this event to really kind of unite foodies along the Grand Strand and Florence area."
Myrtle Beach organizers are finding ways to make the event bigger and better. The latest plan is to have a second Myrtle Beach restaurant week the first week of June, right around the time of the annual Coastal Uncorked festival.