Grand Strand bar owners prepare for busy nights as ‘Last Call’ order lifted

Last Call order officially lifted in S.C.

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Bars across the Grand Strand were at work Monday preparing for what could be a very busy night.

For the first time in nearly eight months, bars are allowed to serve alcoholic beverages after 11 p.m., making it a great day for many bar owners in the Myrtle Beach area.

Last July, Gov. Henry McMaster signed the Last Call order that prohibited bars and restaurants from serving alcohol after 11 p.m. in an effort to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

McMaster announced Friday that order would be lifted.

Bar owners said they’re excited because now they’re in a position to serve more customers who are eager to have a late night drink, particularly those who work late night hours

“Best news I’ve heard all year,” said Sean Burke, part owner of Spencerz Sports Pub in Surfside Beach. “Maybe things are changing for the better.”

Judy Widenhouse, owner of the Barrel Sports Bar & Grill, said the Last Call order cut into the pockets of their nighttime bar tenders.

“It did impact our business,” Widenhouse said. “That hurt them tremendously. But now that it’s lifted, they’re looking forward to extra money in their pockets right now.”

Aaron Gifford, co-owner of Atlas Tap House in Myrtle Beach, said like many businesses, he’s excited the Last Call order is now a thing of the past.

“It was fantastic news but It was definitely a shock,” Gifford said.

He said the news about the Last Call order being lifted did come as a surprise last Friday, because it left employees three days to readjust the bar’s operating plans.

“It’s kind of a shock again but I think it’s something we’ll all get accustomed to the 11 p.m., including the employees. Everyone has to adjust themselves hours wise, hopefully get a more sleep and lose a little more sleep in the 11 to 2 time,” Gifford said.

The Chairman for the South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association previously said McMaster would lift the Last Call Order after COVID-19 numbers stopped spiking.

McMaster said numerous times the Last Call order was helping to keep young adults from congregating at bars late at night and possibly spreading the virus to vulnerable populations in the community.

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