Some people know, others don't, the story of how an idea became a reality that we all know and love as our local dive, Whaley's Restaurant. I'll tell it to you now.
In 1999, 2 Edisto newcomers were working together at the Pavillion Restaurant,
and came up with an idea for a new hangout on the beach. They wanted a place
with great food, strong drinks, and lots of different bands performing a wide
variety of live music, where locals would feel like family, and tourists would feel
that they were getting a true taste of the local flavor that is Edisto.
Van Maxwell and Art Robinson tossed ideas back and forth for several months. The old South Point Services building was sitting empty on Myrtle Street. Van and Art envisioned that this place would be perfect because of its nostalgic value, being one of the oldest buildings on the beach and already a landmark (the store was the only place to get good water on the beach for decades, and people used to bring their water jugs and fill up at the spigot by the gas tanks).
In 2002, they secured the lease on the space. But that was just the beginning.
Since the building had been empty for some time, they embarked on their
mission of gutting and renovating the place. What a chore it was. Everyday
while they were working on the place, people would stop by and ask what
was going on, saying how glad they were that someone was doing something
with the old store. Van and Art were able to open in 2003 with a beer and
wine bar, and selling convenience store items.
The next year, a makeshift kitchen (dhec approved) was completed with a household stove that Van found by the side of the road. Only 3 out of the 4 burners worked on it! They bought second hand chairs, tables, dishes, etc. Once they had a functional kitchen, they were able to obtain a liquor license. That's when the place finally started to take off. The servers used to greet the tables saying that the food was excellent, but be prepared to wait because the kitchen was not quite commercial grade. They later redid the kitchen and got a vent hood, expanded the menu, and Whaley's became known as Edisto's 5-star dive.
Last year, Van and Art parted ways, and Van is now the sole proprietor of our beloved local hangout. This year, when the town passed the new smoking ordinance, Van decided to give the place one more upgrade, and he redid all the floors, painted the walls, and replaced all the ceiling tiles in the dining room. Whaley's is now fresh and new all over again, and I encourage everyone to enjoy one of the many great meals on the menu.