Tom Boettger and his children have been loyal customers to Pelican's Snoballs in Columbia for several years.
In a little over a week, the family will experience a role reversal.
Boettger has become a franchisee for the national chain that originated in New Orleans and is opening the Grand Strand's first Pelican's Snoballs in Conway on July 3.
"My kids really turned me on to it. They just kind of fell in love with the place. They always kind of wanted to go," Boettger said of the business that specializes in shaved ice treats. "What I like about it, the company itself embraces the philosophy that the people are the most important thing. It’s such a simple but high-quality product and those are the kind of things I really built my career on."
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Boettger recently was a district manager for Carraba's Italian Grill, with jurisdiction in a region that included Myrtle Beach and went as far north as Wilmington, N.C. and as far south as Savannah, Ga., for 15 years. Before that, he'd dabbled in other restaurant and bar ventures.
This Pelican's Snoballs, to be located at 3502 Highway 544, will be his first try at franchising.
"They opened a bunch of them here and it’s very popular," said Boettger, who lives in Columbia but goes back and forth from there to Myrtle Beach, where his family lives. "It’s a very popular destination for the local people here. So I kind of thought ‘well, this is a great idea’ so I’ve been wanting to bring it to the beach."
According to the corporate website, Pelican's Snoballs has been around for 15 years. It now has 143 locations that offer over 100 flavors of shaved ice.
"There’s 100 flavors and there’s probably 30 different ways you can use those flavors. So there’s endless possibilities," Boettger said.
Boettger said he had looked into Socastee as another possible destination before deciding on Conway, in a building off S.C. 544 that formerly housed Ichiro's Express and Maryland Fried Chicken. The business will be just down the road from Coastal Carolina University.
"If you do the demographics on that area, there’s a lot of population both going towards Conway and going down 544," he said, adding that he'd eventually like to add locations closer to the beach. "And then when we found that building [near the] college that just put it over the top."
Pelican's Snoballs is also known for providing family entertainment, Boettger said. His pet-friendly site will feature cornhole and picnic tables, and he plans to expand the entertainment options down the road.
Boettger also was attracted by the business' affordability.
"We’re really trying to get to where you can come in there with a family of four for 10 or 12 dollars," he said.
Overall, Boettger said the family atmosphere is what attracted him to the business model.
"They’re not just trying to go out there and crush a dollar out a tourist," he said. "That’s kind of what I liked about it."