Myrtle Beach landmark getting new owners

There will be something missing at Marvin's on the Boardwalk in Myrtle Beach starting next month: Marvin himself.

After nearly 37 years running the bar-restaurant off Ocean Boulevard, Marvin McHone, 65, is retiring to hit the road in his new motorhome and enjoy some leisure time while he's healthy.

But don't fret, yet, loyal patrons. Two local businessmen aim to keep the Marvin's tradition of burgers, tacos, beer and Long Island iced teas going.

"I feel like the time is right," said McHone, who has worked at his namesake bar seven days a week. "I've got a long bucket list."

McHone built a restaurant and bar that has become a staple in downtown Myrtle Beach, known for its burgers, beverages and sports memorabilia. The joint opened in the mid-1970s near the former Mother Fletcher's nightclub spot, a couple of blocks away from Marvin's current spot at 918 Ocean Boulevard facing the ocean, where it moved to in the early 1980s.

Since he's been there, neighboring mom-and-pop hotels have been demolished, Plyler Park emerged next door and the city built the boardwalk that runs right in front of Marvin's, an addition that McHone says has done wonders for the business.

He's weathered hurricanes and increased competition from off-the-beach developments such as Broadway at the Beach and helped – behind the scenes -- create an association for downtown merchants to promote the area.

Two local businessmen, Steve Taylor of Native Sons, a screenprinting and custom apparel business, and Bill Prescott, who owns several amusements in the Myrtle Beach area, are buying Marvin's, though Prescott said the deal hasn't closed yet. The pair, who met with employees Thursday, will keep the name, planning only some slight tweaks to the menu during the next year, Prescott said. More changes will come in 2013 with some painting and remodeling, he said. Prescott, who declined to say how much he's paying for the business, said he'd been talking with McHone about buying it for a few years.

"It's a pretty successful place the way it is," Prescott said. "It's a landmark. We are excited to keep the tradition going."

McHone's last day behind the bar will be Nov. 12, with a drop-in retirement party set to start at 4 p.m. that day. The eatery will be closed Nov. 13 and 14, and reopen under the new ownership Nov. 15.

Regulars have mixed feelings: happy for McHone but worried about what's next for their gathering spot.

"I'm very glad for Marvin. He's an icon, and he's been here forever. Everybody knows Marvin," said Jimmy Good, pointing to an old blue sign behind the bar that Good says predicted the future years ago, proclaiming "Marvin's soon-to-be-famous sportsbar."

Good, who's been a Marvin's patron for at least 25 years, works at a dry cleaner on Broadway Street and stops by Marvin's daily for an after-work drink. "It's almost like being in ‘Cheers' where everybody knows your name," he said sitting at the bar with a draft beer.

Danny Yoe, who lives in Atlanta and has a second home along the Grand Strand, has been a loyal Marvin's customer for more than two decades, lured by hot dogs he says are the best on the beach.

"I hope the new owners don't change that," he said while sitting at one of the bar's tables along the boardwalk.

His wife, Conni Yoe, wished the new owners the best.

"I hope they do well," she said. "Gosh, it's kind of sad to see the end of an era."

McHone, though he's ready to travel and enjoy some leisure retirement time, will miss the customers he's come to know so well during the past three decades. He's given his cell phone number to some of those loyal customers, telling them to call him when they are in town and he'll join them on the other side of the bar for a drink.

"It's been an absolute great ride," he said. "Myrtle Beach has been good to me."

So what will McHone do on Nov. 16, his first day of retirement?

"The only thing I know I'm going to do is watch the sun rise," he said while standing behind the bar. "And a new chapter starts from there."