The top of the restaurant has been incorporated with part a pirate ship’s bow with an unnamed pirate statue looking out into the yonder.
Another inanimate pirate, dressed in full regalia, and a faux skeleton replica, adorned in the same, are at the eatery’s entrance. One on is each side of the doors holding a menu.
It is here just before the entrance that it becomes apparent Key West Grill just isn’t a restaurant in Myrtle Beach but also a tourist attraction within a tourist attraction.
Like paparazzi, as soon as they arrive, customers begin taking pictures frantically in front of the pirate and skeleton.
Men hold their infant sons while their wives snap photographs.
Women pose beside the statues with their girlfriends.
It is silly fun and untamed curiosity that continues once they enter in.
The pirate theme is once again highlighted with pirate statutes and skull motifs. Since the eatery is at the beach, there are real palm trees inside, of course. They have been preserved so the trees won’t shed, with each having a polished shine.
A wall of framed pictures and memorabilia about Key West, Fla., are on wall space heading to the restrooms, where women are “maidens” and men are “buccaneers.”
Oversized caricatures of fish are integrated in the design of the bar areas.
Key West Grill’s unspoken anthem is “We are a place of cool, crazy and fun.”
If customers don’t get the relaxation and celebration message, T-shirts for sale remind them.
Every T-shirt has a Key West Grill logo, while some have funny messages. One reads, “YOU LOOK LIKE I COULD USE A DRINK.” Another reads, “FISH NAKED. SHOW OFF YOUR FLOATS.” Each costs $13.99. Others without messages cost $9.99.
By far, however, the main attractions are Kiwi and the food.
Kiwi, the macaw that is turquoise and sunflower yellow in color, has been a resident of Key West Grill since Broadway at the Beach’s inception in 1996.
“He is about 18 years old,” said Peter Reid, general manager at Key West Grill. “People love him. There are people who come back to see him year after year.”
Kiwi has a contemporary jungle gym, which is where he resides during business hours, tucked in a corner to the right near the hostess stand.
A sign underneath the bird reads, “My name is Kiwi. I bite.”
“At times, he is really sweet,” Reid said. “At other times, he is quite boisterous.”
Tod Mell, a New York resident, played with Kiwi as his sons and father watched the macaw climbed onto his hand before returning to its metal triangular perch.
“My son has a parakeet at home,” Mell said.
On this day, they only came to visit Kiwi and skipped dinner, although they do like the food.
“The food is very good, and I always enjoy the atmosphere,” Mell said. “Key West Grill has the Southern hospitality thing going on.”
Key West Grill’s popularity also stems from its daily early bird specials and happy hour.
From 11 p.m. to 5 p.m., customers can order their choice of soup (conch chowder or black bean soup), an entrée (Shrimp ‘n’ grits, fried shrimp, a 10-ounce rib-eye steak, fettuccine Alfredo or salmon with dill sauce) and an ice cream sundae. Each choice costs $14.99.
Happy hour can only be ordered in the bar areas only, with the $7 menu being available from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Happy hour items include buffalo shrimp, potato canoes (the eatery’s version of potato skins served with black bean salsa, avocado sour cream, applewood smoked bacon and roasted garlic oil), chicken wings and fish tacos. Drinks include $3.00 Red Stripe beer, $4 margaritas (all day, everyday) and pitchers of Long Island tea for $8.
Regular priced lunch and dinner entrees include barbecue pulled chicken pizza ($14.99 for lunch), the Nuevo Cubano Sandwich (a lunch option made with sliced roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, grilled onions and mango mustard on grilled Cuban bread for $10.99), shrimp scampi ($24.99 for dinner) and crab stuffed chicken ($23.99 for dinner).
Mike Napholz, a firefighter from New Jersey, is partial to the escargot ($10.99), the Tuna Tower (tuna tartare with lump crabmeat for $14.99) and Oysters Hemingway ($9.99), Key West Grill’s take on oysters Rockefeller – all are appetizers.
“I enjoy Key West Grill because it’s a good seafood restaurant,” Napholz said.
His daughter, Nicole Napholz, said she is fond of the fried shrimp ($18.99) and appreciates the ambience.
“It’s a clean restaurant, and it’s somewhat laid-back,” she said.
“Being here reminds me of being in Key West (Fla.),” her dad chimed in. “I’ve been coming here since it opened, and we always visit Kiwi. He’s always mad as hell, but we love him anyway.”
For more information about Key West Grill, call at (843) 444-3663, visit www.keywestgrill.net or www.facebook.com/KeyWestGrill.