Ridin’ with Big E for March 7, 2013

For Weekly SurgeMarch 5, 2013 

Several area media outlets recently reported that Suck Bang Blow’s massive Four Corners location has been sold and that the developer, who allegedly got it for pennies on the dollar after a bank foreclosure, plans to tear the facilities down and rebuild, citing that the property is worth more than the venue as it sits. There is speculation that either commercial office or medical space will be constructed; but, I am hearing from my super-secret, unnamed sources that there are talks of a new shopping center anchored by a Publix grocery store going in.

Despite initial resistance by residents in the area, the giant, biker bar with 40,000-covered-square-feet, three entertainment stages, and an indoor burn-out pit sitting on nearly 5 acres at 11980 U.S. 17 Bypass in Murrells Inlet was established in 2002 in the former Pelican Building Supply complex. Those of us who have been here awhile remember when there was no Lowe’s or Home Depot in the area and Pelican was the place to go. If you’ve ever wondered what the big covered, but open-faced structure in the back of the parking lot is, that’s where Pelican stored its lumber. The unique, indoor burn-out pit was part of a compromise effort between the original owners of SBB 4 Corners and their reluctant neighbors to keep the noise and rowdiness inside.

I can recall hearing stories of how the owners would pay their annual mortgage in two huge payments; one after the spring motorcycle rally and the other following the fall rally. It was also rumored that the fortune they made in beer sales alone allowed the owners to gift their beer distributor with a new motorcycle to celebrate their partnership.

The gravy train slowed however, in the wake of a national economic downturn that hurt businesses across the board - especially those depending on tourism. Then to make matters worse the motorcycle rallies came under attack by City of Myrtle Beach officials who labored to ban them outright, breeding resentment among the rally visitors, many of whom vowed never to return. To a lesser degree, Surfside Beach and Horry County officials followed suit limiting vendor permit dates and availability, while raising permit prices and rally attendance waned. In a WMBF News report Suck Bang Blow General Manager Bill Barber laid the blame for the closing squarely on local politicians. Barber said the location was first put on the market five years ago, “Ever since ’08 when all that mess started…You can thank Horry County and the City of Myrtle Beach….” According to the WMBF report, “City spokesperson Mark Kruea said the buildings closing, and upcoming demolition, is unfortunate. However, Mr. Kruea also said SBB Four Corners is not within the city limits, and the city believes the bike rallies are ‘too long, too loud, and too dangerous.’ County spokesperson Lisa Bourcier backs up this claim.”

Not everyone agrees though.

A friend of mine, Matthew Lillich, is the owner of Coastal Tinting and a Murrells Inlet resident who lives just behind the Four Corners location. Although Lillich does not have a motorcycle, he is a small business owner who said, “Personally, I’m sad to see them go. I hate to see another business close.” As for living so close to the action, Lillich continued, “The noise and traffic [during the rallies] were never too bad, and I appreciated that the bar closed at midnight for the sake of nearby residents. I’m sure they could have sold a lot more beer by staying open later, but they didn’t…I wish them all the best.” Lillich’s wife, Laura Perry, seemed more concerned about the everyday traffic issues. She believes, “The long-talked about projects to add turn lanes and improve that intersection have to be done before any increase in traffic activity there. [Traffic] backs up there too often already.”

Hugh Sloan, another local who lives off of the same road, agrees this is a chance to make improvements, “As a life-long resident, the rally comes with the territory, but the venue has fallen into disrepair and the traffic is bad on Tournament Boulevard during normal days. The area really needs to be cleaned up and [officials] need to address the Four Corners and McDowell Shortcut (just behind SBB) intersections.”

Meanwhile, Suck Bang Blow’s original location at 3393 U.S. Hwy 17 Business is still open and gearing up for the 2nd Annual Rockabilly Rumble on March 29-31. The 3-day event will include contests, Hot Rod cars and motorcycles, and live rockabilly music.

Also happening in March is the spring motorcycle rally in the Daytona Beach, Fla. starting Wednesday (March 8) and running through March 17, and I spoke briefly to Leslye Beaver, owner of two local Beaver Bar locations, whose newest Beaver Bar venture is close to Daytona, at 1105 North U.S. 1 in Ormond Beach, Fla.

When I asked her about the SBB situation she was gracious saying, “I don’t like to see anything bad happen to anyone. It may just be a blessing in disguise for them. That place had to be a beast dragging them down.”

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