Tides, Locklear’s bid to operate Folly Beach pier restaurant

Emmie Hollingsworth and her husband Ed Hollingsworth enjoy the opening of the Folly Beach Pier on Sunday March 16, 2008. (Grace Beahm/Staff)

Tides Folly Beach has filed a bid to operate the restaurant at the foot of the Edwin S. Taylor Fishing Pier, which hotel owners envision as the linchpin of a family-friendly beach experience.

“We want to create more synergy between the hotel and the pier,” says Jon Weitz, owner of Avocet Hospitality Group. “And the reason behind that is, back in the history of Folly, the pavilion and boardwalk were all tied together.”

The restaurant is currently operating as Locklear’s Beach City Grill. Although restauranteurs including Halls Management Group, CO Restaurant Group and Fleet Landing had enough interest in the property to attend an informational meeting held in connection with the county’s request for proposals, only Locklear’s and Tides bid on the five-year lease.

“I absolutely expected more bidders than there were, given the location,” Weitz says.

In addition to Tides, Avocet Hospitality owns The Vendue Hotel. Just as Drawing Room reinforces the downtown hotel’s art theme, Weitz says a pier restaurant would solidify the Tides’ dedication to waterfront fun. Currently, the only dining facility at Tides is BLU, which doesn’t aim for the beach casual demographic.

“We recognize this is for people in shorts and flip flops,” Weitz says, imagining parents with fussy children ducking into the restaurant to enjoy the air conditioning and fishermen dropping by for snacks. “We want our conversations with Charleston County Parks & Recreation to focus on how we create more connectivity; a more public gathering spot. To us, the idea is more than just a restaurant.”

According to Weitz, who purchased the hotel in 2008, there is a beach access path between the hotel and pier, but it’s now fenced off in deference to the current operating arrangement.

Locklear’s last year grossed $1.45 million in revenue, and paid $8883 in monthly rent for the restaurant, which measures 2369-square-feet. The request for proposals also outlines the selection process, which will be based on criteria including cost, experience, approach and past performance. The new lease begins on Nov. 1.

“We really had no had no designs on the space: It had always been leased out,” Weitz says, adding, “if (Locklear’s) is the successful bidder, we’ll continue to operate as neighbors.”