NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF/NBC News) – A restaurant in North Myrtle Beach reopened its outdoor seating to customers in defiance of the governor’s executive order.
The owner made the decision after a month and a half of being limited to curbside pickup or delivery.
“The last straw is good friends of mine who own businesses telling me through phone calls that, ‘Weldon, I’m not going to be able to re-open. I’m going to lose my business.’ That’s where the last straw came from,” said restaurant owner Weldon Boyd.
Boyd has owned Buoys on the Boulevard for three years.
He’d set aside a few month’s worth in savings in case the business came on hard times, but not this hard.
“We were told to put all of our people on unemployment,” said Boyd. “Yeah, that’s a joke. Half my people still can’t even get paid from the state. We’ve done everything on our end, but it’s not working.”
So, he decided to reopen his outdoor seating, despite the governor’s executive order still being in place.
He put four tables outside, spaced several feet apart.
Boyd said he had hundreds of people come and eat over the weekend, and got emails from people across the country in support.
He caught the attention of North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley, who referenced it during the AccelerateSC governance meeting in Columbia.
“I had one restaurant owner that opened up for business this weekend because he was desperate and put it on Facebook, and of course, what does that do? That just tells all the others, ‘Hey, listen, let’s all get together and let’s defy the government,’” said Hatley.
“We’re going to run this as long as we can until something gives,” said Boyd.
And something gave about one hour later, as the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division came to issue Boyd a written warning.
They said the next step would be to take his business license.
So, he’s back to curb-side pick-up but still believes in his message.
“Politicians work for us, and they have to understand that, and, you know, it’s our decision what we do. If it’s not, then it’s not a freedom, it’s a privilege,” he said.
Boyd said he was told by SLED that business violations are being put at the back of the court backlog, so until the courts are caught up, he can’t plead his case.
He says that could set him back months, if not years, and he can’t afford that.