HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – The owner of Flip Flops Bar and Grill is thanking Horry County Council members for making what he said is the right decision by allowing bars to stay open past 2 a.m.
"They gathered the facts and made a good, informed decision," Rod Weatherwax said.
Horry County's public safety committee recommended an ordinance to close bars from 2 to 6 a.m., after hearing the large majority of service calls for Horry County police come from businesses serving alcohol and staying open past 2 a.m.
However, after county council members passed one reading of the proposed ordinance, they unanimously voted to table it Tuesday night, shutting the ordinance down rather than the businesses.
Weatherwax said his customers dictate what time he closes each night. Many of them work in the service industry and work late hours or they're tourists staying right around the bar on Shore Drive.
"We have a very low-key clientele," he said. "We typically, knock on wood, don't have any issues or problems."
Weatherwax said it would not have been fair to punish businesses that haven't experienced problems due to the few that have.
He said he could have lost 20 percent of his business by closing at 2 a.m. each night. That could include the customers who come in after 2 a.m., and also those who stop by earlier.
"The crowd that may go out to supper somewhere else and say, 'Hey, let's go to Flip Flops and have a drink after supper.' By the time you get there and have one drink, it's not worth the aggravation to do it," Weatherwax said.
He said he spoke with several county council members and he feels like his voice has been heard.
A two-thirds majority vote is required to move the ordinance off the table.
Problematic businesses can still be shut down as public nuisances with certain qualifications, such as drug activity, prostitution and constant police calls, Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said.
He added that his staff will continue working on those cases as they have been. Richardson also said he thinks it would be an oversimplification to close all bars at 2 a.m., because the majority of them don't cause problems.
Myrtle Beach City Council is considering a similar ordinance, but city spokesperson Mark Kruea said the city could now follow the county and drop the issue.
Kruea said the issue could be brought up at Tuesday's city council meeting.