Cagney’s serves up food, emotion on final day in Myrtle Beach area

bdickerson@thesunnews.comOctober 20, 2012 

— Bill and Lorrie Carroll were enjoying what they thought was just another meal at Cagney’s restaurant late Saturday afternoon.

What they didn’t know was it would be their last at the Myrtle Beach area restaurant.

Cagney’s, which has been in business since 1976, closed its doors for good Saturday. The Carrolls were just receiving the news.

“That’s a big hole,” said Bill Carroll, a Charlotte, N.C., native who has been visiting the Grand Strand with his wife twice a year for 10 years. Cagney’s is always one of their required stops.

Shock was written all over Lorrie Carroll’s face, her eyes widening to the size of saucers when asked how she felt about the restaurant closing.

While the loyal customers were taken aback by the news, at least they weren’t finding out the hard way.

“I’d hate to come here and it not be open,” Lorrie Carroll said.

The Restaurant Row eatery, which specializes in steaks and prime ribs, decided to have its last call Saturday because its lease is coming to an end and negotiating more years is not an option due to the lagging economy, Dino Thompson, one of Cagney’s owners, has said.

Manager Danny Ferguson found it hard to find the words when talking about the restaurant he’s been a part of for 35 years. His voice often cracked and he paced the floor while taking a few final glances at the bar, the private dining area called the Ocean Forest Room and the staffers who went about their duties of serving the guests.

“So many years, so many memories. It’s like family,” Ferguson said.

What Cagney’s wasn’t doing was going out with a bang. Instead, its final evening was no different than any other during its almost 40-year history.

“It’s not a celebration for us,” Ferguson said.

Ben and Barbara Timmerman wanted one more opportunity to celebrate one of their favorite Grand Strand eateries.

The couple, who live just a mile away from Cagney’s, were the first customers to be seated when the doors opened at 4:15 p.m.

Their corner table was right in front of a large picture of screen legend Elizabeth Taylor, just one of several movie star portraits hanging on the restaurant’s walls.

The Timmermans said they love Cagney’s decor, but it’s the food they’ll miss most of all.

“I’m devastated. It’s my favorite prime rib,” Barbara Timmerman said.

Ferguson said he will miss the people who made the restaurant what it was. And for one final night, they all gathered together to enjoy one last meal.

“This was our Camelot,” Ferguson said.

Contact BRAD DICKERSON at 626-0301.

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