MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A Myrtle Beach restaurant that has made downtown Myrtle Beach home for more than 40 years is taking its business elsewhere. The Library Restaurant has been open since 1974. Now, the brick restaurant nestled in a row of businesses on the 1200 block of North Kings Highway plans to pack up and leave.
If you've ever been there, you know you're immediately greeted by thousands of books filling the bookcases, and decorations that bring a sense of nostalgia, sending you back in time. The Library Restaurant is a blend of classic Myrtle Beach, which depended on amusements from a Myrtle Beach of the past. The Pavilion was a driving force for downtown business, and when it was torn down, it took more than kiddie rides from the downtown area.
"It was a big attraction, it drew a lot of business to downtown. I feel like ever since that business left, the prime focus has been building up the boulevard...getting everyone over on the ocean... and that's where most of...what I'm seeing most of the money is being spent...getting people over to the ocean. Where back streets going towards business just seems to be dilapidating...and you're just not seeing a bunch of construction happening on this side of the road," The Library Restaurant owner, Shad Velasco, said.
The new location for The Library is in a strip mall at the 6600 block of North Kings Highway and 66th Ave. North. Velasco has owned The Library since 2003. He said the move is in the best interest of the restaurant, and his customers. Safety concerns and a drop in business is the motive for moving, he said.
"It seems there's a shooting every two weeks in downtown Myrtle Beach...it's not happening up in 66th Avenue, it's not happening in Market Common, it's not happening at Barefoot Landing, you know? It's not fair for a nice restaurant to be dealing with this type of stuff," Velasco said.
Velasco mentioned this past weekend's Circle K shooting just a block away from him. He said streets were blocked off by police, and customers who couldn't find their way to the restaurant canceled their reservations. As a reservation-only restaurant, the recent customer loss adds to the list of downtown issues that have proven too much for his business. The new spot near 66th Ave. North continues to shine compared to The Library's current location.
"It just seems like there's less issues with everything...from the violence to the traffic...to the businesses that are doing well there...the new construction. I mean any new restaurant that pops up in Myrtle Beach always seems to be in that end of town. So, I figured it would be great to take a 40-year-old restaurant and get it in to the area, I figure it'd be great for businesses all around," Velasco said.
The new spot, which Velasco considers much safer, will help him focus more on what he prides his restaurant on: service. He said he frequently will walk customers to their cars at the current location. A lack of lighting, parking and frequent panhandlers also hurt The Library.
Despite the current struggle, Velasco said he looks forward to what the new location will bring. He said he knows his loyal customers will follow, and hopes to add to the eateries in the area. The new restaurant will feature the current restaurant decor, but there won't be as much room. Velasco plans for a main dining area, a wine room similar to the current "proposal room," and a twenty-foot bar, which he's always wanted.
The new location is slated for a late spring or early summer opening this year.
To visit The Library Restaurant's website, click here.