As the Atlantic Beach Bikefest rolls into town this weekend, food delivery businesses are preparing to cope with the influx of motorists and the 23-mile traffic loop enforced from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. during the event.
“Just can’t take a chance,” said Luigi LoSanto, owner of Little Italy on North Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach. “My driver goes out there, and I’m worrying about something happening.”
LoSanto said his restaurant may stop delivering if the traffic gets too overwhelming.
It depends on the situation and what kind of traffic they’re having. Last year we stopped delivery because there was too much traffic. If someone wants to come pick it up, they can come pick it up.
Luigi LoSanto, owner of Little Italy pizza shop on North Kings Highway
“It depends on the situation and what kind of traffic they’re having,” he said. “Last year we stopped delivery because there was too much traffic. If someone wants to come pick it up, they can come pick it up,” he said.
The loop was used for the first time last year during the Memorial Day weekend, aiming to ease traffic congestion along Ocean Boulevard that officials said led to street parties and problems in 2014. After experiencing the loop last year, some owners have an idea how it will affect their businesses and are preparing for it.
The traffic loop runs from 29th Avenue North on Ocean Boulevard south and around to Kings Highway, north to Harrelson Boulevard, which turns into George Bishop Parkway, west to Waccamaw Boulevard, which runs next to U.S. 501, onto S.C. 31 heading north to Grissom Parkway south, then onto U.S. 17 Bypass and down 29th Avenue North.
Ultimate California Pizza on Kings Highway is planning on adding more staff through Sunday. Assistant Manager Nathanael Dollar said the business had to stop deliveries last year because of traffic.
“There’s always a possibility we might have to stop, but we’ll do our very best not to,” he said.
Drivers will only be able to take out one order at a time instead of two or three, but Dollar said the extra drivers should keep deliveries on time.
Other Myrtle Beach businesses also are planning for the event.
You just hope for the best but prepare for the worst, just like a hurricane.
Chris Walker, president of Oceanfront Merchants Association
“You just hope for the best but prepare for the worst, just like a hurricane,” said Chris Walker, president of the Oceanfront Merchants Association in Myrtle Beach.
Walker said he thinks the event has a negative impact on the area because of the bad publicity and the tax money spent on controlling the event.
On Ocean Boulevard, Gay Dolphin owner Buz Plyler said the store plans to shut down at 10 p.m. instead of the normal 11 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday to allow employees more time to get home while the traffic loop is being enforced.
Plyler said that even before the traffic loop was set up, the store didn’t do much business during Memorial Day weekend.
“This crowd doesn’t buy very many physical objects,” he said. “They take their money for their accommodations. They typically are bringing less money to the table in the first place.”
Plyler said that although his business slows down, some restaurants could do well during Bikefest.
“The bike rally always brings business,” said Gil Reibenbach, general manager at the 8th Avenue Tiki Bar. “This town gets loaded with tourists, bikers and they all want to eat and drink and have fun.”
The bike rally always brings business. This town gets loaded with tourists, bikers and they all want to eat and drink and have fun.
Gil Reibenbach, general manager at the 8
But Reibenbach said that some businesses are hurt by the rally when families come to the beach for Memorial Day and aren’t expecting the event.
“They see some stuff that they don’t want to see, that their kids don’t want to see,” he said. “It’s a crazy weekend. They get scared and they don’t come back because of it.”
Myrtle Beach SkyWheel Operations Manager Rachel Beckerman said the rally generally doesn’t impact sales.
“We always use Memorial Day weekend as the kickoff to summer, and our summer hours are from 11 a.m. to midnight,” she said.
Beckerman said she’s more concerned about potential rain than the rally’s affect on sales.
“We don’t sell tickets based on biker or non-biker,” she said. “I think it’s a good weekend and I think we’ll see it again as long as the weather holds out.”
Christian Boschult, 843-626-0218, @CBOSCH192