Brandi and Jamie Allen wanted their daughters to share a true Myrtle Beach experience, so they took them to Peaches Corner.
"We brought the girls to the zipline at old Pavilion site and I said, ‘Let's go down the Boulevard and see the new Skywheel and the new boardwalk,' and I said, ‘We can't not take them to Peaches Corner,' " Brandi Allen said.
She and her husband, who grew up in Myrtle Beach and now live in Surfside Beach, were sitting at the counter with daughters Maci and Alexis on a beautiful April afternoon.
"When you went to the Pavilion or Magic Attic, this was the spot to go, a hangout spot," Brandi Allen said. "You could see everything."
That's a familiar story to Briggs Dickerson, who manages the Myrtle Beach institution that is owned by his wife's family. People who were brought by their parents to Peaches now bring their children in.
"It's a special place," he said. "Many, many people have come in and made memories and made a lot of traditions with their families throughout the years. We get stories like that all the time, of people bringing their kids and grandkids in, and years later, the same individuals come in and tell the story of when their parents brought them in to enjoy a hot dog and things of that nature and to play over at the Pavilion, and now these guys are bringing their children in."
Renovation part of new downtown
Peaches Corner, in celebration of its 75th anniversary this year, has been spruced up. New signs have been hung, the counters have been redone, and the coolers and tile have been replaced. But it's still the best people-watching spot on Ocean Boulevard. Grab one of the swivel stools at the counter, order a foot long hot dog or a Peaches burger, and watch the parade of people and cars that is quintessentially Myrtle Beach.
In the past few years, new attractions have opened along this section of Ocean Boulevard. Just catty corner across the boulevard from Peaches on the site of the former Myrtle Beach Pavilion Amusement Park, Myrtle Beach Zipline Adventures is zipping riders on a 600-foot ride from a 60-foot tower.
In spring of 2011, the Myrtle Beach Skywheel, about two blocks down the street from Peaches, started taking riders in enclosed gondolas 200 feet above the Atlantic Ocean and putting on a light show for the downtown.
The city of Myrtle Beach's 1.2-mile boardwalk, running from 14th Avenue North to First Avenue North, provides strollers with stunning beach views and access to shops and restaurants along the way.
All of the downtown improvements, Dickerson said, make the outlook for Peaches' 75th anniversary summer very bright.
"Myrtle Beach is still economical for people to come and visit," he said.
Dickerson and his wife, Blair Dickerson, have been managers of Peaches Corner since before they were married in 1998.
Blair's grandmother, Eunice Burroughs Singleton, bought Peaches Corner in 1943. In 1997, Singleton gave the Dickersons and Blair's brother, Russ Stalvey, the opportunity to run the family business.
Oddly enough, Briggs grew up in Conway and had never visited Peaches until the first day he walked through the door to work there. But he'd grown up in his own restaurant institution; his grandmother, Donzelle Dickerson, owns Donzelle's Restaurant in Conway. He worked there growing up, doing anything from opening doors to bussing tables. All his manners, from saying yes ma'am and no ma'am, he learned in the restaurant business, he said.
And why is it called Peaches?
The name of Peaches Corner came from the Peach family, who opened it in 1937. The Peaches opened three Peaches Corner: the one in Myrtle Beach, one in Folly Beach and one in Carolina Beach. The Myrtle Beach Peaches, now owned by Singleton's daughter, Pam Crutchfield, is the only one still operating.
A few years ago, Briggs Dickerson said, a gentleman in his 80s came in and sat in one of the booths.
He told Dickerson, "Young man, I worked in Peaches Corner back in 1939."
The man told him the workers then stayed in a motel on Ninth Avenue South, and their weekly pay was $12, two hot dogs and one draft beer.
Dickerson said he's also been told that airmen stationed in Myrtle Beach in the 1950s and 1960s knew they could come to Peaches if they needed help getting the few miles down the road to the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base.
"If anyone ordered a plain hamburger, the cook automatically knew they needed taxi fare back to base and slipped a $5 bill in the burger."
Old school hot summer ahead
The renovations began last summer with the addition of a new counter showcasing photos of Myrtle Beach through the years under a coat of resin. A tap system for beer was installed, and an ice cream cooler was added.
This year, the roof was replaced and Bahama shutters were added
The Dickersons wanted to keep an "old-school" look for the restaurant, so Tyson Sign Company of Conway created retro signs, including a 1930s-style Pepsi sign and a 1950s-style Budweiser sign.
Most notably, the building's marquis Peaches Corner sign, on the corner, was redesigned, with the words "Since 1937" added to the bottom. And then an iconic peach, which revolves and is lighted, was placed on top.
The peach will be spinning over a busy spot this summer as the Downtown Merchants Association cranks up nightly entertainment at Plyler Park on the boardwalk. Dixieland bands, kids' carnivals, fireworks displays and live concerts each Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday nights are part of Hot Summer Nights from June through August.
All the events are scheduled to draw crowds to Ocean Boulevard. The Dickersons and their staff know visitors like the Allen family will return to Peaches Corner to relive a fond memory.
"People tell us it's the first place we come when we hit Myrtle Beach," he said, "and the last place we hit before we leave."