In an age of dog-eat-dog one-upmanship and in a town that sometimes seems paranoid about competition, two local neighborhood pubs, just feet apart from one another, have decided to work cooperatively rather than as lone wolves and adversaries. Together, they’ve created Thirsty Thursdays! Reggae Night Block Party and are advertising “Park Once, Party All Night!” - something they recognized many of their patrons were already doing.
Pine Lakes Tavern (formerly Droopy’s) and Bourbon Street Bar & Grill, are in the 5200 – 5300 blocks of Kings Highway, just south of the Pine Lakes neighborhood on the north end of Myrtle Beach proper. The clubs have been serving customers off and on, through numerous ownership changes, for decades. But when longtime friends Jay McAllister (Bourbon Street) and Anderson Knott (Pine Lakes Tavern) each found themselves owners of the two neighboring establishments, a new cooperative synergy began to form.
Shortly after Pine Lakes Tavern first opened in 2012, parking squabbles flared briefly between the two venues. The old ownership of Bourbon Street felt its valuable parking spaces were being infringed upon by Pine Lakes Tavern’s staff and patrons, and it appeared the pubs would not enjoy many warm fuzzies between them. The squabbles and angry threats of towing eventually fizzled out and Bourbon Street continued to establish itself as the live music venue in the area, hosting solo acts and full bands six nights per week.
Pine Lakes Tavern decided to focus on food, craft draft beers, shuffleboard and its back deck sitting on Pine Lake, with only the rarest of live musical performances. But eventually the lure of live music proved too tempting for music man Knott and business partner Tommy Jordan, so PLT started booking live music, too, including a now long-running open jam on Tuesday evenings. Knott has owned and operated a number of music venues in the Myrtle Beach area dating back to the early 1990s, beginning with Hurricane Cove on Lake Arrowhead Road. He’s also a longtime road warrior and part of the management team, first for Hootie & the Blowfish, and now for Darius Rucker.
McAllister had been a bartender at Droopy’s for many years before it closed, and then went to work at Bourbon Street Bar & Grill, the bar he would eventually own with musician friend and now business partner William “BJ” Craven, formerly with popular south Strand original act Ten Toes Up.
When the business at Pine Lakes Tavern operated in its previous incarnation as Droopy’s, the bar earned legendary, perhaps infamous, status among locals for its off-the-wall clientele, illegal Vietnamese moonshine complete with real pickled rattlesnakes, packed-to-the-gills college nights, televised sports in every corner, ping pong tables, and live, loud rock ‘n’ roll. PLT is earning an altogether different reputation after an extensive remodeling and reinvention as a more grown-up, more inclusive neighborhood pub and restaurant with a waterfront element hidden from the street, of which only regulars are aware. This new idea to capitalize on the walking distance between pubs, came as McAllister and Knott, two old friends, discussed mutual marketing goals.
“The Block Party idea was really Anderson’s,” said McAllister. “His idea was for the bars to feed off each other, like the old days when Garcia’s ran its Thirsty Thursday for happy hour, and then the crowd would go up to Bimini’s Oyster Bar, and the real late night partiers would go the Hurricane Cove – all three of those bars were real close to each other.”
The current Thirsty Thursdays! Block Party Reggae Night has Pine Lakes Tavern hosting acoustic reggae from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m., followed by Bourbon Street hosting the late night bash from 10 p.m. – 2 a.m. featuring Kevin Shiels and Lynwood Salvo’s Ten Miles High reggae show and a revolving cast of local players.
Both clubs offer food and drink specials with no cover charged.
“So far it’s working,” said McAllister. “It’s a taste of the old days.”