Why is Myrtle Beach SC missing these popular restaurants?

Cheesecake Factory, a popular restaurant, bakery, and bar, is high on the wish list of residents of the Myrtle Beach area.

Cheesecake Factory, a popular restaurant, bakery, and bar, is high on the wish list of residents of the Myrtle Beach area.

Image from Wikimedia

We understood. Cheesecake Factory has so many options – all in one place. The restaurant is reminiscent of Myrtle Beach itself, which has more restaurants per capita than Paris and New York.

Yet despite the rapid growth of Myrtle Beach’s restaurant scene, a Cheesecake Factory is still missing. The closest location is in Charlotte, and the only location in South Carolina is in Greenville, on the opposite end of the state.

The Sun News asked readers which restaurants they wish the Grand Strand had but are still missing. By far the best answer was Cheesecake Factory. It’s a staple of chain restaurant culture, just as Myrtle Beach is a staple of East Coast beach life. It makes sense to marry the two together.

“Definitely Cheesecake Factory. PLEASE! Always a crowd pleaser,” Melanie Yannuzzi said in response to The Sun News poll.

“Cheesecake factory. This is my favorite restaurant when I travel and there is one where I am. I go there because I miss them and I love their food,” Monica Howard said in response to the survey.

Here’s what else people said. Because there was so much variety in what people would like to see, restaurants offering similar types of food were grouped together. (However, no, we’re not saying that White Castle and In-n-Out are “the same”.)

“No more….too many……”

Yes, the second most popular answer for what restaurant dwellers would like to see was an iteration of “none”, “we’ve had enough”, and “we have too much now”. We already have plenty of places to eat. (There are a seemingly endless number of breakfast places and IHOP knockoffs).

“None, I like independent restaurants,” Sherrie Glensky said in response to the survey.

When you look around, yes, Myrtle Beach has plenty of restaurants. But many people think the restaurant scene lacks variety in the types of dishes on menus. This is what the other inhabitants who answered us want.

Burgers

People want White Castle. My apologies to the Midwest, but Myrtle Beach isn’t the land of royalty yet. The closest location is hundreds of miles away in Kentucky.

“Frozen castles just aren’t as good as fresh off the grill,” said a reader named George in response to the poll.

Another reader, Patricia Callahan, was even more convinced that Myrtle Beach “needs WHITE CASTLE.”

Others lobbied for In-N-Out. The California-based burger chain’s closest location is in Texas. This is because the company relies on all fresh ingredients, so restaurants must be within 300 miles of the company’s distribution centers that do the initial food preparation.

Italian

Survey respondents asked for Maggiano’s Little Italy and Buca di Beppo (closest location for each is Charlotte) and Macaroni Grill (closest location is Harrisburg, Tennessee).

“Maggianos Little Italy, there is no better Italian food anywhere. Buca di Beppo because it’s fun to say and great food. Macaroni Grill because how does MB not have one? Best Chicken Marsala I’ve ever put in my mouth,” Kirby Wilmont said in response to the poll.

Texas chains

Not a restaurant – technically – but Alamo Drafthouse was praised in the poll. The Austin-based cinema is known for its great food, themed movie nights, and strict no-talking or cellphone policies.

William Korthals noted that Houston-based Papmadeaux had “very good Cajun”. The company is also part of a family of restaurants offering BBQ, fine cuisine and Tex-Mex.

Finally, one reader said they wish Myrtle Beach had a Chuy’s. The Austin-based Tex-Mex chain has dozens of locations in Texas, but the closest restaurant to Myrtle Beach is – again – in Charlotte.

Fast-casual

When Myrtle Beach lost the K&W Cafeteria, many residents were heartbroken. And now they want it back. One of the restaurant’s locations in Myrtle Beach served locals and visitors for nearly 36 years before closing in 2018.

“K&W. There is a large group of retirees and non-retirees who prefer a meal over fast food. The prices (were) good and the food was great,” Cathy Beck said in response to the survey.

Other readers wished Myrtle Beach had Jason’s Deli, a soup, salad and sandwich chain (the closest location to Charleston). Many have also asked for the Boston Market, which serves great Thanksgiving dinners and is known for its rotisserie chicken. The closest location to the Boston Market is in Fayetteville, North Carolina

“Boston Market – a great quick comfort food for the family,” Catrine Giery said in response to the survey.

As for the other survey responses, the first honorable mention goes to reader Hope Faley.

“Please FOCUS on healthy businesses, groups and food out there. Our people need it,” Faley said in response to the poll.

Myrtle Beach has plenty of restaurants, but there’s also a noticeable shortage of “natural food” businesses like salad, smoothie, and juice bars. And while many restaurants offer vegetarian and even vegan (sometimes buried) options on their menus, few focus specifically on foods that meet the demands of those diets.

Other notable shoutouts go to Bahama Breeze (perfect for the beach, honestly), Tim Horton’s (we can feel every Canadian has been asking for it), and California Pizza Kitchen (everyone needs more pizza). Several readers also wish Myrtle Beach had more Greek food options, more traditional New York deli meats, and more non-buffet Chinese fare.

This story was originally published March 4, 2022 10:30 a.m.

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Chase Karacostas writes about tourism in Myrtle Beach and throughout South Carolina for McClatchy. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2020 with degrees in journalism and political communication. He started working for McClatchy in 2020 after growing up in Texas, where he was signed to three of the state’s largest print media outlets as well as the Texas Tribune covering state politics, environment, housing and the LGBTQ+ community.

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