At least one business on Ocean Boulevard was closed throughout much of Memorial Day weekend, prompting a complaint to the NAACP.
That business, the restaurant and bar at the Second Avenue Pier, was shut down from at least Friday through Sunday, The Sun News found. Anson Asaka, associate general counsel for the NAACP, confirmed they received a complaint.
The Sun News was unable to reach the owner of Second Avenue Pier, Teak Collins, after multiple calls to the Pier, emails and visits to the business in the past three days. Employees at the Pier’s tackle shop said Saturday that an issue with a water heater had closed the Pier House restaurant and open-air bar.
But the NAACP will now examine the complaint against the restaurant, Asaka said.
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“Usually we have volunteers investigate,” Asaka said. “We’ll contact the various businesses to hear from them to hear what their story is.”
The NAACP held a news conference last week — as it typically does before Atlantic Beach Bikefest — warning area businesses not to close or refuse service to the largely black crowd that comes to the Myrtle Beach area over Memorial Day weekend.
The celebrations are sometimes called “Black Bike Week,” a name that juxtaposes the weekend against the biker rallies held on the Grand Strand by an older, mostly white crowd earlier in May.
Asaka said the NAACP has previously uncovered situations where restaurants refused to serve black patrons, forced them to sit outside or blocked access to their bathrooms during Bikefest when they did not do so during the rallies earlier in May.
But he also said that not all complaints result in lawsuits or other legal action.
“If a business has a legitimate concern about whether their employees will be able to get home because of a traffic loop, then that’s something that we would take into consideration,” Asaka said, referencing the altered traffic pattern in effect at night over Memorial Day weekend.
“That wouldn’t be a situation where we would necessarily bring a case or file a complaint,” he said.
Russ Stalvey, the owner of the Oceanfront Bar and Grill at 100 9th Ave. N., said Tuesday that his employees need three hours to close up, clean the restaurant and still make it home in time to miss the loop, which can snarl traffic for hours.
“Their cars are parked miles and miles away,” said Stalvey, whose restaurant closed at 7 p.m. this weekend. “They have to have time to get home to their families.”
The Pier 14 Restaurant at 1306 N. Ocean Blvd. also closed at 7 p.m. this weekend.
“Last night I had an employee that just made it going into the back gate [near The Market Common]. They were just doing the barricades,” said Jason Devereux, a manager at Pier 14 whose family owns the restaurant.
He said Sunday in a conversation with The Sun News that the restaurant closed at 8 p.m. last year, leaving several employees stuck in the 23-mile traffic pattern, which has few exits.
Last year, Devereux said, “I got stuck in it myself.”