Franklin McCray thought folks in the Grand Strand wouldn't miss his down-home country cooking when he closed his eatery, Franklin's Diner, in 2007 after 10 years.
He was wrong, and he came back the next year - at Fresh Catch Seafood House & Market, 7036 S.C. 90. It's in the Poplar area of Longs, S.C., six miles west of North Myrtle Beach. Last year, McCray became owner and operator of the spacious eatery, which has a separate seafood market adjoining it that specializes in area products.
A self-taught cook, McCray is confident but not cocky when it comes to his culinary talent. He can season a batch of fresh chicken, coat it and drop it in the fryer in record time. He's a smooth operator in doing whatever needs to be done.
Cool points have been earned, too, because he has kept the unwritten oath of country eateries: to provide good eats for prices pleasing to folks who believe good food shouldn't empty their pockets.
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Lunch specials, for instance, are $7.13 - that's with the tax - and feature a meat, rice (plus gravy, if you want), two vegetables, bread and all the sweet tea you can drink.
What did diners recommend on a recent visit? The fried chicken lunch special. Home-made onion rings. Fresh shrimp.
The highest dinner entree is the $14.99 seafood platter (broiled or fried) that includes local shrimp, oysters, scallops, a fish filet and deviled crab.
The food is mighty fine, customers say, and he breads his fried foods lightly.
His seafood is almost always local, with items such as his oysters coming from places nearby - including Topsail Beach.
Dining hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 4:30-9 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday. Details: 843-390-1001. (Seafood market hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday.
Sopraffino Italian Restaurant and Bar opened recently at 670 U.S. 17 Business S. in Surfside Beach, S.C. It features traditional Italian dishes. Prices range from $10 to $22. Hours: 4 p.m. to close, Tuesday-Saturday. Details: 843-238-1111.
"Le Grand Cirque: Adreneline 2010," various days/times, Palace Theatre. $9.95-$45.95. Details/tickets: www .palacetheatremyrtlebeach .com.
"One: The Show," 7:30 p.m. various days; multimonth run at Alabama Theatre, Barefoot Landing, North Myrtle Beach. $34.95, $39.95 and $35.95. Details/tickets: www .alabama- theatre.com .
"Forever Plaid," Through April 3, various days/times at Palace Theatre. $45; $10 for ages 3-12. Details: www.palacetheatre myrtlebeach.com .
Oak Ridge Boys, 7 p.m. Saturday at Alabama Theatre. $40.95-$53.95. Details/tickets: www .alabama- theatre.com .
REO Speedwagon, 8:30 p.m. March 12 at House of Blues, 4640 U.S. 17 S., North Myrtle Beach. $29.50 and $74. Details: www.houseofblues.com.
Ben Folds and Zach Williams, 8 p.m. March 13, House of Blues. $21.50 and $31.50. Details: www.houseofblues.com.
Kingston Trio, 7 p.m. March 13 at Alabama Theatre. $29.95-$36.95. Details/tickets: www .alabama- theatre.com .
Details on Grand Strand events and attractions: