MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Restaurant renovations and soon-to-be opened businesses on a busy stretch of Highway 17 could be a sign of change for an area that was once considered the happening spot of Myrtle Beach.
One restaurant owner says Restaurant Row is slow because it's outdated and it might take many of the businesses in the area time to see things turn around, including his.
For 28 years, Rossi's Fine Italian Cuisine Restaurant has been offering customers a unique dining experience. It's one of a handful of businesses that has stood the test of time on Restaurant Row.
"At least 50 percent of those that were here, that were very, very talented restaurateurs have disappeared from the area," said Deane Morris, Owner of Rossi's.
Morris said he has seen what used to be the happening strip of Myrtle Beach lose its luster.
Morris explained that Restaurant Row has suffered because "a lack of any new draw, also so many new businesses and so many other directions to go in: Market Commons, Broadway, Coastal Grand, puts a lot of pressure on an area that used to be the only destination,"
Over the last few years, the area has seen businesses shut down, restaurants destroyed by fire, but there are some slight changes that are helping the area make a comeback.
For example, the Burger King, in the heart of Restaurant Row, is undergoing a makeover; construction crews hope to have the project completed by the end of December. Down the road on 17, Hooters and McDonald's are also completing remodeling upgrades. The Duplin Winery will be one of the newest business set to open in spring 2015.
Morris said a new look for all the restaurants could be the answer to give the Row a lift.
He explained that restaurants should, "try to upgrade what the area looks like, maybe some reductions in the way the signs presently exist. That could mean my own sign that may have to change its architecture for the area, but the area needs to be upgraded to whatever it takes to make it to feel 2014."
More changes could be coming to Restaurant Row. A proposed amusement park is still being discussed by the Myrtle Beach Community Appearance Board and developers; they are still working on designs plans.
"Have our government, local governments to help us with the traffic pattern, like I said people are not as concentrated on a traffic problem for Restaurant Row. So maybe a lane reduction with a good turn lane, some traffic islands and palm trees, and get rid of the wires that goes across the street, back and forth, that makes it looks like the old, old Myrtle Beach, might enhance the area," Morris said.