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Lush Life | 10 years of happy hour

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It has been 10 years since MyrtleBeachHappyHour.com started reviewing the discount offerings of Myrtle Beach area watering holes. Through the mini-bottle phase out to the $2 vodka trend, they have been giving honest feedback on the happy hour hotspots on the Grand Strand.

The website is, possibly, one of the most useful sites of its kind, offering reviews based on strength of discounts, atmosphere, service and a full list of the happy hour offerings. Add direct links to the websites, phone numbers and directions and it makes for little reason to look elsewhere for the information that you want.

The biggest advantage to visiting myrtlebeachhappyhour.com is the objective and unbiased reviews. They have perfected their criteria to put up useful reviews that are made from a discerning eye and a passion for a great happy hour experience. There are no rants or unqualified remarks. The vibe is that they want everyone to have a great happy hour. They want to showcase what we do best on the beach. They also paint a very clear and accurate picture of what you will get when you walk through the doors.

I got to chat with founder and happy hour guru Matt Cayuela as he recalls the last 10 years of the Grand Strand food and beverage scene.

How many places have you reviewed over the last decade? As of today, I have 297 reviews on the website. Some of those reviews have multiple locations, so, right off the bat, it is well over 300 bars. Then, you take into account all the bars that have closed that I have reviewed over the past 10 years. That number has to be well over 200 as well. I would say I have been to over 600 bars in the past 10 years.

What bar is/was your absolute favorite for happy hour? Five O’Clock Somewhere. Unfortunately, that bar has been closed for several years. As for bars that are still open, it all just depends on the mood I’m in. Bumsteads, Island Bar, Anchor Cafe, The Office, Midtown Bistro, Quigleys, Aspen Grille, Snooky’s ... just to name a few.

What is your fondest memory overall? The summer of 2007 when I organized a pub crawl. Twelve bars in one day for $20. We had a bus drive us around to all the places then drop you off at your house. That was quite a day, plenty of fun, a little bit of drama and plenty of drinks to be had. It was a lot of work on my end and that is why I haven’t done another one since.

What are your plans for the future of Myrtle Beach Happy Hour?

Hopefully to go another 10 years. My goal is to get a review of every happy hour along the Grand Strand. I have always enjoyed living here and, as long as I am here, I plan on running the site and attempt to keep it as up to date as possible. For the past 10 years people have always said “You know you can make money off that site?” like it is some huge oversight that I have missed throughout the years. I have known that all along, but I simply enjoy doing it just for the fun of it. That’s not to say that if a big corporate sponsor wants to throw a bunch of money at me that I’d refuse it, but until then I will continue to do what I do.

If you could change one thing about happy hour on the beach, what would it be?

Some of the patrons that take advantage of it. Some people don’t realize that some of these businesses are taking a loss on certain specials that they run. Certain people will bleed places dry with their great deals and do things like not tip properly or not come in during non-happy hour times. If you truly enjoy a spot for happy hour then you should support it at all hours so they can run a successful business.

Are bars recognizing you yet?

You know how small this town is. Any time a new place opens I probably already know one or two of the staff from a previous bar or restaurant. Most of my friends work in the service industry and they all have worked at several places. Heck, Kevin, I think I’ve seen you at four or five different spots.

The way I see it, you should not trust a review by a tourist who may or may not be looking out for your best interests. Especially when there is a local happy hour expert with the most up-to-date and objective information right at the tip of your fingers. Cayuela embodies what this city needs. Locals promoting the great things that we do best. More importantly, he has the vision and savvy to know when it is being done well and when it is being done poorly on both sides of the bar.

We are pulling for another 10 years, a local corporate sponsor and to keep seeing Cayuela in our bar scene doing his thing. If you want to follow his moves and reviews, check him out on Twitter (@MBHH), Facebook (Myrtle Beach Happy Hour) or the place all the reviews are kept at www.myrtlebeachhappyhour.com.

See you out there. Cheers!

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