This is Carolina: After more than 50 years, seafood restaurant owner is ready for a vacation

This is Carolina: After more than 50 years, seafood restaurant owner is ready for a vacation

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – On May 11, 1964, a woman's uncle bought a cup of coffee for ten cents.

It was Sylvia Chestnut's first dollar on her first day of business as the owner of a Little River seafood restaurant.

Chestnut is known for her sassy but caring personality and her commitment to her restaurant that's over half a century strong.

"I can tell you what they're going to eat before they even order, you know," Chestnut said about her customers.

With a love for her customers as deep as her Horry twang, Chestnut knows about Little River cooking.

"The Stevens had started this in a small room here with a dirt floor," she said. "They used to get oysters from the draw bridge here at the marsh. They would drive up with a horse and a wagon and cook oysters outside on a piece of tin."

Stevens Restaurant and Oyster Roast has served customers on a real floor for more than half a century. It's been a local favorite since a fish market was next door instead of North Myrtle Beach High School.

"It doesn't take a boss to run a business; it takes a leader," she said.

With her parents' help, Chestnut bought the restaurant in 1964. It's been all in the family ever since.

"This is what she knows. She's good at it, she's a character," said Breanna Chestnut, Sylvia's granddaughter. "When everybody comes through the front door they're looking to see my grandmother and talk to her."

This week, however, is bittersweet for the Chestnuts and for Sylvia, who's leaving her front door post.

"And I've just hung in there all those 54 years, and I want to tell all my people I appreciate them eating here with me," she said. "And I'm sad. It's going to be different, but it's time to go."

After decades of full bellies and hearts, Chestnut wants to enjoy life.

"I have a lot of energy. I joke and play and cut up a lot," she said. "You get out of life what you put in it."

Now, Chestnut is looking to take it a little slower.

"I've never had a vacation," she said. "It's time to travel and do things you like."

So with 54 years of memories, customers and employees who've turned into family, Chestnut will man the front door post one more time Saturday night.

Still, if anyone needs her, don't expect her to travel far.

"You'd be lucky to get me out of Horry County. If you do, you're doing good," Chestnut said.

Copyright 2018 WMBF News. All rights reserved.