By Becky Billingsley
Monday, November 2, 2009, Myrtle Beach – With his third location in 15 years, Bill Grieste’s latest addition to his laid-back Lowcountry restaurant stable has all the ingredients of winning franchise concept.
Bill grew up in Key Largo, Fla., but moved to North Myrtle Beach as a teenager and graduated from North Myrtle Beach High School in 1986.
“I’ve been in the restaurant business almost all my life,” Bill said Friday at his newest restaurant. “My dad had a restaurant in Florida, and then when we moved to North Myrtle Beach I worked for a long time at the [now closed] Outrigger Seafood.
It was 15 years ago when Bill opened his first Duffy Street Seafood Shack in Cherry Grove at 319 Sea Mountain Highway. Seven years ago he added a second location in North Myrtle Beach at 202 Main St.
“A lot of people thought I was crazy to open one two miles from the first restaurant,” he said, “but it has become the busiest.”
He thinks the new third location, which opened in June, will become even busier in 2010. With its Restaurant Row spot at 9924 N. Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach, it is centrally located near the intersection of Kings Highway and S.C. 22. The building was most recently a short-lived restaurant called Goober’s 52, and it has panoramic views of live oak trees and Arcadian Shores golf course.
Inside, the casual beach-theme restaurant is full of interesting nooks and crannies. A long front porch has tables and rocking chairs. Just inside the front door is a long bar to the right and a lounge area on the left with a diamond plate floor, copper patina-stained tables and ladderback chairs with wicker seats. A big television tucked into a fireplace was tuned to Comedy Central, and a sound system piped in relaxing, folksy, twangy blues.
At the back of the lounge is a “shack” where you can buy T-shirts with mottos such as SOB – Shack of Blues; Low Country & Laid Back; Drop Your Nuts & Pick Your Crabs; and You can pick your friends, You can pick your nose, But you can pick your crabs, Where everyone goes. To the left of this area is a tiny room with five rocking chairs decorated with antique soda bottles like Crush, Kist, Brownie, Fanta, NuGrape and Roberson Big Beverage.
At the rear of the restaurant are two main dining rooms, and both of them have good views of the golf course and live oak trees. The décor is much more subdued, with earthier colors, than when it was Goober’s.
All three Duffy Streets have the same menus full of seafood, but also with steaks, chicken, ribs, burgers and salads.
A house specialty is the Crab Cakes, which you can get fried or sautéed, and are made with chopped onion and lump crab meat. Bill is also proud of his Shrimp and Grits.
“The first year they had the Shrimp and Jazz Fest in Little River, we won first place overall with our Shrimp and Grits,” he said. “They’re made with stone mill ground Adluh Grits. We cook the grits with a little of our Fish, Corn and Crab Bisque mixed into them. The other part is sautéed shrimp, smoked sausage, red peppers, red onions and bacon, and we put that over the grits with Monterey Jack cheese.”
Other dishes they’re known for include seafood platters, Blackened Fish Bites and oysters. Now that it’s oyster season Duffy St. is serving local cluster oysters at $12.95 for a half-roast, and $19.95 for a full roast that will serve two to three people.
Many meals come with cole slaw made with large-shred cabbage and a sweet and light creamy dressing; and hush puppies that are sweet and not too doughy or too cakey. Oversize French fries are lightly dusted in Old Bay Seafood Seasoning.
Bill’s wife, Angela Grieste, makes a Key Lime Pie of note. The filling is sweet and thick – a rich custard – with a kiss of that signature Key Lime tartness. It’s on a thick buttery graham crust.
A new Locals’ Appreciation Happy Hour Special at all three locations is from 4-8 p.m., through March. During those hours free wings will be served at the bar, which are the special house Asian flavor. Shrimp are 25 cents, steamed or raw oysters are 50 cents, clams are 50 cents, snow crab clusters are $6.95, domestic beers are $2.50 and well drinks are $3.50.
Bill says he is always eager to provide catering for area events. He feeds 1,000 people every year at the annual Rumble in the Jungle Mackerel Tournament. Eventually he’d like to franchise the Duffy Street concept.
Duffy Street Seafood Shack is open from noon to close every day, and on Fridays and Saturdays they’re open until 10 p.m. for sure. The number at the Restaurant Row location is (843) 449-2233. You can go here for a $2 coupon off your second platter.