A Celtic-themed pub deemed too risque for an Illinois town opens Thursday at Broadway at the Beach, raising the eyebrows of some store managers at the complex but giving others optimism that the new venue will help boost business.
Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery, a Tempe-Ariz.-based chain known for its “kilt girls,” is opening its first S.C. location on the 21st Avenue North side of Broadway.
The 8,500-square-foot pub has seating for up to 275 inside with more seating on an outside deck overlooking the lake. It will feature the trademarks of the Tilted Kilt brand, including a bar with about 40 brews on tap, Celtic-inspired cuisine such as shepherd’s pie and, of course, the servers – known for their scanty attire of short, plaid kilts that match the bra that peeks from under white camp shirts tied to show off their abs, capped off with white knee socks.
Some say it’s not an image that fits with family-friendly Broadway, especially outside the complex’s nightclub-centric Celebrity Square.
“I’m just concerned because we are more of a family side of Broadway,” said Kathy Turner, who works at a nearby store. “It is a little risque.”
Michael Ford, general manager of the new restaurant, said the eatery is designed to accommodate anybody, and the servers’ attire isn’t more revealing than outfits you might see walking along the beach.
“We are PG-13,” Ford said.
But that was a little too risque for Evanston, Ill., which rejected a Tilted Kilt there after about 2,000 residents signed a petition against it, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl turned down the eatery’s application for a liquor license, saying it does not comply with community standards, according to the newspaper.
“First time we’ve been denied,” Ron Lynch, 60, who launched the chain in 2005 after visiting the prototype in a Las Vegas hotel, told the Chicago Tribune. “It’s kind of a shocker.”
Tilted Kilt, which opened in 2003 in the Rio hotel in Las Vegas, is in growth mode, with 50 open restaurants and another 25 in development. In Myrtle Beach, the restaurant did not have to get approval from Myrtle Beach’s Community Appearance Board because it is considered an interior building at Broadway, not visible from the street, city spokesman Mark Kruea said. It did have to get the usual building permits and inspections, he said.
The eatery in Myrtle Beach, decorated with limericks painted on the walls, old movie posters and memorabilia from locally owned Pine Lakes Country Club, is one of several new restaurants moving into Broadway this summer aiming to shake up the venue’s restaurant lineup. Tilted Kilt replaced Tony Roma’s, which had operated at the complex since it opened in 1995 but closed in mid-September after its lease was not renewed. Tony Roma’s manager said at the time that business had been steady; it was the chain’s only S.C. location.
Employees of stores near Tilted Kilt at Broadway said passersby regularly ask where Tony Roma’s went. Burroughs & Chapin Co. Inc., which owns Broadway, said in a statement that it hasn’t been approached by Tony Roma’s about opening elsewhere in Myrtle Beach.
Tilted Kilt has been successful in other cities and fits at Broadway, Patrick Walsh, B&C’s senior vice president of asset management, said in an email.
“Its unique, energetic and fun atmosphere is appealing to a wide variety of patrons and the restaurant makes a conscious effort to be family friendly,” he said. “Broadway at the Beach is all about great places to eat and having fun, so it’s definitely a fit.”
Ford agrees, saying the eatery is classy and fits in with what family friendly Broadway offers. The eatery has about 50 TVs, wooden bars resembling an old-school pub and a pool table.
“I don’t think that it takes away [from the family friendly atmosphere],” Ford said. “I’m not forcing them to come in here … I’m open for everybody and anybody who wants to come in my door.”
The servers, which in Myrtle Beach range in age from 18 to 42, are charged with making sure the guests have a fun experience, so they have to try out for the jobs during casting calls, Ford said, adding he aims to hire folks with energy who are excited about coming to work.
“They’re bringing that to the table of guests,” Ford said of the servers/entertainers. “It’s all about personality.”
The pub, with the slogan “A cold beer never looked so good,” has about 300 workers, including kilt girls, bartenders, kitchen staff and others, he said.
Some nearby store managers are optimistic about their new neighbor.
“I hope it brings in some business – it should,” said Troy Nicholson, manager of the U Rock store across from Tilted Kilt. “You’ve got to have some variety.”
Nothing about Tilted Kilt has Susan Collins, part owner of Caribongo store nearby, worried.
“If it brings business, it’s fine with me,” she said.