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Carolina Wings & Rib House, 139 Willbrook Boulevard (Litchfield Beach): July 2014   no comments

Posted at 1:14 am in grand-strand,out-of-area,restaurants

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I have had my eye on this location of Carolina Wings & Rib House because the chain has been cutting its Columbia operations to the bone, and I figured this peripheral coastal location wouldn't last much longer. In fact, the place was open for the Memorial Day weekend, but by the time I went by again in late July it had apparently (from the state of things inside) just closed.

This location was in Litchfield Beach, in an outparcel of what was the Litchfield Piggly Wiggly shopping center (but which is now the Bi-Lo shopping center. Although I suspect that the general troubles for the chain were the biggest problem for this location, I also note that it is not visible from US-17 which can't have helped either.

Written by ted on August 11th, 2014

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Maze Mania, 3013 US 17 Business Garden City: 2013   16 comments

Posted at 10:59 pm in attraction,grand-strand,out-of-area

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The concept of Maze Mania was simple: You go into the maze, find the cheese, and get out of the maze. Best time wins.

It was a little more complicated in execution. The "cheese" was actually a box size wooden mock-up wedge with an electric rubber stamp device embedded inside it. Every day, the cheese would be moved to a different part of the maze, where it would be put on a special stand near an outlet. When you started the maze, you would be given a timecard with your start time, and when you found the cheese, you would stick the timecard into the block, which would stamp a picture of a piece of cheese on the card (proving that you completed the task), then you would try to find the exit, where your final time would be recorded. Assuming you were a kid, your parents would probably be on the observation deck overlooking the maze shouting down more (or less) helpful hints. Presumably, if you were a college student, it would be a bunch of drunk friends instead.

I only ran the maze, officially, once, probably about 20 years ago. I thought it was a lot of fun, and always wanted to take some younger cousins or other relatives there, but somehow never made it happen. I noticed earlier in the year that the place didn't seem to be open in what should be a viable, if not peak, time, and so made a point of looking in on it this summer as I would drive by at various times which led me to the conclusion that it was closed.

I finally made the time to stop and have a look at it. The big mouse billboard was in obvious need of cleaning, and the door sign said "closed for the season" without specifying what season that was. I have concluded it was probably fall 2013.

Finding my way back into the maze itself, I saw lots of signs of neglect and general decrepitude. The worse bit was a whole section of maze wall that had fallen down (or been knocked over) but overall there were a number of loose boards, and vegetation encroachment. Still, I think a good handyman with some lumber and paint could make the place runnable again with no more than one or two days work.

As you can tell from the pictures, it was a rather gray day, and started raining when I was out in the maze, and yes, I did get lost. (You can always find your way out of a maze by following the right wall if all else fails, but it may not be the shortest route by any means!)

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Written by ted on August 4th, 2014

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T-Bones Steakhouse & Saloon, 715 Pendergrass Avenue: 25 August 2013   2 comments

Posted at 1:41 am in grand-strand,out-of-area,restaurants

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T-Bones (no relation to Tbonz) was in Murrells Inlet on the US-17 bypass almost directly across the street from the old Rosa Linda's South.

I only ate at T-Bones once that I can recall, and that would have been not too many years after they opened in 1988. I had a burger, and it was pretty good.

I'm not sure why I never went back -- perhaps because there were closer options for burgers, and because I have a general list of favorites I try to hit when I'm at the beach. At any rate, though I didn't stop again, I often admired the best slogan on the beach as I was driving by, though I would have used a colon instead of a comma.

I noticed this weekend that the place was closed, and the realty sign suggested it was not an entirely voluntary state, which the article linked above confirms. Of course it would seem so far that closing it didn't actually help the bank that much..

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Written by ted on March 24th, 2014

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Latte Litchfield, 13088 Ocean Highway: 14 December 2013   4 comments

Posted at 11:52 pm in grand-strand,out-of-area,restaurants

As I headed for my morning coffee fix at the beach last December, I found myself rudely surprised as my go-to location, Latte Litchfield was closed.

The building itself has been there forever, but I cannot recall the last tenant. When I first became aware of the place, it was a Christian coffee shop. As far as I could tell, the only practical effect of this from a customer point of view (unless you opted to attend the gatherings listed on the bulletin board) was really pleasant baristas.

I'm not sure if the place changed hands or what, but gradually that aspect was dropped, and the Internet Cafe aspect came forward. During that period, I would often stop by to get my network fix, or to print work documents I had to deal with. As DSL and cable penetrated the area, I did less of that, and I think the same applied to others and the orientation shifted once again. Though the computers and wireless were still there, the place sort of shifted to being a working art gallery with various pieces on display and an artist occasionaly working on new ones.

For a long time, the cafe was connected through an interior archway to Eggs Up Grill and though they were run as separate businesses, you could drift out of breakfast at the one and into coffee and pastries at the other. When Eggs Up moved to the Litchfield Piggly Wiggly plaza, the archway was drywalled, and access to the new restaurant there was cut off. I suspect the Eggs Up move hurt business a good bit. Likewise (as is, I believe, gently hinted at in the closing notice), the plaza started bringing in other businesses that directly competed with Latte Litchfield. For instance, they served froyo as a sideline at one time, and the plaza brought in a separate froyo business right next door to them. Likewise for lunch items and a new restaurant two doors down.

I guess now I never will get the final punch on my free-cup card.

Written by ted on February 5th, 2014

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Piggly Wiggly, 115 Willbrook Boulevard Pawleys Island(*): 9 November 2013   7 comments

Posted at 12:45 am in grand-strand,out-of-area,stores

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Well, just to continue our ongoing list of Pig closings, the store in Litchfield Beach is now gone.

This was a fairly new store, and quite nice. It also seemed to always do quite a good business as far as I could tell.

The store is located in a plaza just across US-17 from the main Litchfield resort area (with the old Tara Theater) and has a number of restaurants and a few retail operations. There has been some churn during the financial crisis, and Blockbuster, a computer store and a couple of others have gone, but Massey's Pizza and Eggs Up have moved in, so on the whole it is doing OK. Physically the site is quite nice, with moss draped live-oaks and stop-light access.

The Pig will be re-opening as a Bi-Lo, and I have to think that this will mean moving the Bi-Lo from a few blocks north into this spot. Currently the Bi-Lo (originally built as a Harris Teeter) is in an older, failing plaza, which has recently seen the only other decent store (Litchfield Books) decamp to the new Fresh Market complex.

All of this movement takes place in the total revamping of the local grocery environment. Along with the newly opened and afore-mentioned Fresh Market, the Grand Strand's first Publix will be opening in the currently dowdy Pawleys Island Plaza, and a Lowe's Foods will be opening in a new plaza at the Island's South Causeway. This has to be putting a good deal of pressure on Food Lion which has been running a rather up-scale location also at the South Causeway.

(*) All the online google hits list this location as Pawleys Island. In my mind that is clearly wrong. This is Litchfield Beach, plain and simple. Somehow the area covered by the Pawleys Island moniker has tended to spread as "Arrogantly Shabby" has become "upscale" and gained a bit of cachet.

Written by ted on December 6th, 2013

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Not 'Mane', At Least   4 comments

Posted at 2:39 am in commentary,grand-strand,out-of-area

"Captain! The main lobsters are down!"

"Then deploy the.. impulse lobsters!

Written by ted on November 16th, 2013

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Krystal, 3120 U.S. 17 Business (Murrells Inlet): June 2013   14 comments

Posted at 12:30 am in grand-strand,out-of-area,restaurants

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Apparently this was not the last Krystal in South Carolina, but it's pretty close. It looks like the other few that are left are clustered along the Georgia and North Carolina border areas with none in the Midlands, Pee Dee or Low Country.

This store, on US-17 Business near to Inlet Square Mall is not in an obviously bad location (though a Five Guys did open nearby a couple of years ago) but is in a little strip that doesn't seem to prosper. In particular, a Moe's failed a few storefronts down, something that seemed unlikely to me at the time, and one end unit has cycled through quite a few entertainment concepts (comedy club, karakoe..) in the last few years.

Written by ted on July 10th, 2013

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Extra Crispy Crust, Please! (Pizza Hut, 530 Church Street Georgetown: December 2012) Open Again   8 comments

Posted at 1:13 am in grand-strand,out-of-area,restaurants

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UPDATE 9 April 2014 -- Here are a few pictures from early January 2014 of the new building, which is now open. (Unfortunately, it was a very grey day):

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Written by ted on June 1st, 2013

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Rosa Linda's Restaurant & Taproom, 3415 US-17 (Murrells Inlet): April 2013 (arguably)   no comments

Posted at 1:00 am in grand-strand,nightclub,restaurants

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Well, this is no surprise I'm afraid.

I've told how the original Rosa Linda's was the first Mexican (ish) restaurant where I was a regular, and an important part of my beach trips from the 80s into the oughties, so I was quite excited when the original Rosa Linda's family started to re-establish the restaurant in the former Hoof 'n' Finz in Murrells Inlet where US-17 business and US-17 bypass reconverge around Inlet Square Mall.

When they finally re-opened, everything tasted exactly as I had remembered it, from the yellow rice to the pinto beans flavored with crisp bits of lightly cooked onion. My only disappointment was that the new floor plan (and possibly elevation..) did not make a pizza oven possible as I had really loved the pizzas in the old locations. (And after all it was "The Mexican / Italian Connection").

My only concern was that attendance seemed very light the times I was there, and sure enough I found it closed on one of my 2011 trips.

Later, I heard it was open again, but the story seemed a bit confusing. Basically piecing things together from the Rosa Linda's Facebook page, and some things that local restaurant writer Becky Billingsley (who often seems to know more than she puts down) had written (here, here, here, and here)., I think the story was this: The original owners had a silent partner in the re-establishment of Rosa Linda's and when the initial financial goals weren't met, the silent partner took over the operation with some grandiose plans for making it a chain.

I was a bit reluctant to go back, as the original manager knew me by sight if not by name, and I didn't want to undercut her, but after I saw that they had moved to Texas, I figured it would be OK to check it out. My thought was that the new management would have tinkered with the menu, possibly adding some standard Mexican fare such as chile rellenos etc while keeping the signature items in place. In fact that was not the case, and the menu was completely new without any of the historical Rosa Linda's items. I thought it was acceptable, but gave me no reason to come to Rosa Linda's in preference to the many other Mexican restaurants on the strand. I mean, no Mexicana Mud? Come on!

After that, the place showed the dreaded Rule #1 from signs your favorite restaurant will soon be closing: The hours changed. More to the point, though the place was not supposed to be seasonal, it closed for the winter with a note on the roadside marquee that it would be open again in March. When I went down in March, the sign said it would be open again in April. I think we all know how that story ends! When I went down in early May, the branding signs (except for the parking lot marker) had all been taken down, there were Home Depot boxes and packing tape inside, and the new phonebooks sat in lonliness outside the front doors.

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Written by ted on May 14th, 2013

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Vocal Edition Christmas Medley, Brookgreen Gardens: 22 December 2012   no comments

Posted at 2:36 am in entertainment,events

Written by ted on December 24th, 2012

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