After facing unexpected issues with the building, Veterans Café reopened last Monday in its new location.
Café owner Lou Mascherino originally hoped to open in the first weeks of April after being told in January he needed to vacate his former location on Shine Avenue next to the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center on the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base. That building is now owned by Vacation Myrtle Beach and will serve as a call center.
“I saw a lot of old faces and saw a lot of new faces,” Mascherino, a U.S. Army veteran, said of his first week back in business. “That’s what we were hoping for. That we would get new faces and not lose the old faces.”
The new café holds nearly double the customers as the Shine Avenue location
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Mascherino opened the doors at his new location – in Northgate Plaza at 3544 Northgate Drive near the back gate – with help from Home Depot, who donated materials and work through its foundation. He said he had to deal with repairing a leaky roof before he could get approved by the health department to open.
When word hit that Veterans Café might close, Mascherino received an outpouring of support from customers and area veterans who wanted to help. He said he received promises that people would send him money toward his monthly rent – which he said doubled at the new location.
Mascherino said he’d heard a rumor was being spread that he didn’t pay rent at the location on Shine Avenue and said it couldn’t be further from the truth.
“When I signed the lease, I paid a security deposit and the last month’s rent,” he said. “We were paying rent to Bobby Conti and then to the bank when they took over. When the new ownership took over and someone came and told us we had to 60 days to get out, I said those two months I paid up front would cover the last two months. I didn’t pay the new owners because I knew they wouldn’t give me my [deposit] back. But to this day, still, I’ve never had a conversation with them.”
Mascherino said he hoped to hold an official grand opening sometime after the Memorial Day holiday.
The café is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For information about the café, call 232-8387.