Restaurant Row sees doors close, but changes coming

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Restaurant row is seeing more closings, but some believe the plans for a new amusement park may be the fix it needs.

Restaurant Row is home to dozens of different restaurants and businesses. Some say it used to be a main attraction, but recently, business just hasn't been the same.

Rob Guyton is the attorney behind the amusement park to go in at the old Myrtle Beach Shrine Club on Restaurant Row; he's cautiously optimistic.

Dino Thompson knows about that caution. Now the owner of Flamingo Grill, he used to own Cagney's on Restaurant row. Cagney's stayed in business for over 30 years.

"Some of the restaurants have dropped off. Some are doing really good. There are some busy restaurants on Restaurant Row, but people don't realize Myrtle Beach is one of the most intensely competitive restaurant markets on earth," Thompson said.

Thompson was 22 years old when he first leased Cagney's.

After many years his lease was up, and says he could not re-sign another long-term lease, so they closed their doors and focused on the Flamingo Grill.

He has seen many restaurants and businesses come and go, and explains some have been sold and made into other restaurants seven or eight times.

"There's only so many tourists in Myrtle Beach. So you have to, well it's going to make some businesses wither. That's just the way it is - it's a tough business," Thompson said.

Thompson said it was a dining destination for many years, and still is in some ways.

"But it's hard to come up with a new idea. You know they've done everything here three times and if it does well, they'll do it five times," Thompson said.

Guyton believes other attractions have taken away from Restaurant Row and the amusement park will help bring people back.

The amusement park would be going in where the Myrtle Beach Shrine Club now stands on Restaurant Row.

"With the evolution of everything that's happened with Grand Dunes, Broadway at the Beach and then with Coastal Grand, we've kind of seen a migration of that commercial district south...so it's left this area a little bit dead," Robert Guyton said.

"There's a lot of places to choose from and the customer driving by has to drive by 150 or 200 restaurants to get to it. They could turn right or left at any time and not make it to your place," Thompson said.

Thompson believes the ups and downs are natural in such a competitive area, and Guyton hopes an amusement park will bring in more people and the business back to Restaurant Row.

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