Changes underway for tourists in Little River

LITTLE RIVER, SC (WMBF) - The hub of all the action in Little River is along Mineola Avenue where waterfront dining, casino cruises and souvenir shops all lie.

Right now many of these businesses are gearing up for a successful season, like Captain Juel's Hurricane Restaurant, which has been serving seafood since 1945. This past winter, the owners renovated the restaurant, making it ADA-accessible and adding hardwood floors for the tens of thousands that will venture in this tourist season.

"Year after year, they come back," says Deanna Robertson, the owner. "We have a table in the dining room right now that drove 400 miles to dine with us today.

Making changes to keep folks coming back are what several businesses are doing. Sun Cruz Casino says it's sprucing up its parking lot. Crab Catchers made changes to its patio, and Horry County purchased a lot along the avenue in order to build dozens of new parking spots. The Little River Chamber of Commerce is spearheading the effort, and construction will start next week.

The Chamber says it's looking forward to a fruitful season with all of the improvements, but there's an ultimate goal on the horizon.

"Our ultimate goal would be to develop something like the riverwalk or the marshwalk, but right now we're trying to get the roadways spruced up and get more parking for the public," says Jennifer Walters, the Executive Director of the Chamber.

More than a decade ago, community members worked with the county on the reality of a marsh walk, but nothing came of it. Most of the land is privately owned, and the Chamber says there is a lot of red tape to go through before that could become a reality.

For now, everyone is looking forward to the first big event this May: the Blue Crab Festival. Last year, 20,000 tickets were purchased, and officials are just excited to show off what Little River has now.

"The view is outstanding - you can rent jet skis and go out or rent a charter boat, catch your own fish and these restaurants will cook it up for you," says Walters.

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