In my last column I promised you some breaking news about a local, biker-friendly entity. You probably know Leslye “Mama” Beaver owns the two Beaver Bar locations here in Murrells Inlet. You may have heard she opened a third Beaver Bar in Ormond Beach, Fla. Well, she is at it again. There are plans in the works for a fourth Beaver Bar location.
THE BIG REVEAL
So where is the new location going to be?
It’s the other beach town that has also been dubbed, “the Redneck Riviera,” Panama City Beach, Fla., which is the future home to the 4th Beaver Bar location, as well as a new Harley-Davidson dealership that is also on the way. Both businesses will surely benefit from the existing spring and fall Thunder Beach motorcycle rallies, which have both been around for more than a decade. I have never attended either, but heard they are continually growing in size and popularity. People tell me they are reminiscent of the good old Myrtle Beach days where everyone is made to feel welcomed and almost anything goes. While negotiations on the property are not quite final, Beaver has found her location that holds a 7,500-square-foot space sitting on 27 acres (most of which is for future commercial development not the bar, but that means there is plenty of room for the latest Beaver Bar). Plans are to open in during the 16th Annual Spring Thunder Beach Rally, which runs April 30-May 4 in 2014.
Maybe we’ll see you there?
THE LITTLE BEAVER
According www.BeaverBar.net, “In 1996, Leslye Beaver acquired a small tract of land from her mother…in Murrells Inlet…. For years her mother had let vendors and…riders park [there during the motorcycle rallies]…and SBB was establishing a stronghold on the adjacent site. During the spring…rally…Leslye filled a large garbage can with ice and bottled water which she sold to bikers for $2. The next rally, she added a second garbage can for beer.” Those were the humble beginnings of what is quietly becoming an empire. (In case you noticed “The Little Beaver”, as the original Beaver Bar location is affectionately called, has been closed, Beaver explained, “It is simply because the weather has been so hot. The Little Beaver will be open again around the first of September when things cool off.”)
THE COUNTY LINE
In 2009, due to business and political differences between Beaver and Horry County officials, she opened the second, much larger location only 3/10 of a mile down the same road deliberately just south of Horry County at the Georgetown County line. The newer location is appropriately called the Beaver Bar at the County Line. Unlike the small mobile home buildings and portable stage that make up The Little Beaver, the County Line boasts a massive restaurant and bar (that formerly housed one of the big Murrells Inlet seafood restaurants) and Beaver constructed a large outdoor pavilion bar and stage, and incorporated the former gas station property across the street, converting it into a rustic antique shop, that also allows for more vendor space and additional parking. The pavilion is becoming a favorite spot for meetings, banquets, and wedding receptions. Beaver told me, “We have had a lot of people enjoy that space. We don’t charge anything to use and we can even offer catering for events there.” I asked if that was the catch and she assured me you did not have to use their catering to access the space free of charge, but always the shrewd business woman, she added, “But you’re not going to find anyone who will give you better prices.”
As mentioned above, in the fall of 2012 Beaver opened her third location in Ormond Beach, Fla. on the outskirts of Daytona Beach, an oceanfront biker destination long known as home to two of the largest and longest-running spring and fall motorcycle rallies in the country. Beaver reports a good following there already. The location is open year-round and features everything that makes her bars here so popular with locals and tourists alike: Rocking chairs out front; ample parking; Sunday brunch at a reasonable price with the proceeds going to help local charities; great entertainment including CMT Concert Series bands; and $2 bottled domestic beers every day. (Even during the rallies when other venues normally charge twice as much for a beer.) While she is amazed by the differences in the locations, Beaver attributes her success to consistency in the things above and especially “…providing what our customers know will be a safe and clean place to hang out and have fun, where the owner and her staff understand the value of a genuine ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.” She has done well with that formula and intends to provide more of the same at the new place. She likens it to finding the comforts of home even when you’re on the road; and, believes her customers will enjoy the familiarity they’ll find as they bounce from rally to rally.