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Big Mike's Soul Food is a favorite restaurant in the heart of Myrtle Beach.
February 3, 2024

Celebrate Black History Month With Thriving Culture Across The Grand Strand

By Marlane White 

February is Black History Month and the Grand Strand region of South Carolina has a rich African American history that is alive and well today. From the region's cuisine to our local traditions, so much of what we love about this area can be traced back to its history.

The Grand Strand is part of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, which extends from Wilmington, N.C., down to Jacksonville, Fla. The Gullah Geechee people are descendants of West and Central Africans who preserved much of their African cultural heritage due to their isolation along this coastal region. Their unique Creole language, traditions, crafts and cooking methods can be experienced today at various festivals held each year.

At Brookgreen Gardens, you'll not only find a showcase of sculpture and gardens, but the history of the enslaved Africans who once worked the rice plantations on its site. The Lowcountry Trail includes sculptures and interpretive panels that tell the stories of those who lived and worked there.

The town of Atlantic Beach is the only Black-owned beach in the United States. Once a booming beach vacation destination for African American families beginning in the 1930s, Atlantic Beach is still referred to as the “Black Pearl.” Each year, the town hosts the “Atlantic Beach Memorial Day Black Pearl Cultural Heritage and Bike Festival” in the spring and the "Gullah Geechee Festival" in the summer.

Charlie’s Place in Myrtle Beach was a popular African American nightclub and small hotel owned by Charlie Fitzgerald and his wife, Sarah, from the late 1930s to the early 1960s where Dizzy Gillespie, Little Richard, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne and many others visited. Tours are given of the facility located at 1420 Carver Street. The Historic Myrtle Beach Colored School Museum also provides tours upon request.

Big Mike’s Soul Food is a staple to the Myrtle Beach food scene – most well known for their fried chicken and meat n’ three plates and traditional Southern Soul Food like collard greens, macaroni and cheese, and cornbread. Michael Chestnut, otherwise known as “Big Mike,” began the restaurant in 2012 with his wife, Maxine and three children. Mike learned how to cook with his mother from an early age and always had a dream of sharing that same Southern home-cooked food with others. After working in the restaurant industry for several years and attending the culinary program at Horry-Georgetown Technical College, he launched his restaurant.

The Asher Theatre began as a community-centered entertainment space. The theatre offers a space for culture and diversity to thrive and performs several different shows throughout the year. These shows include Motown and comedy shows with guest performers. The Asher Theatre also offers student programs for aspiring young performers to learn from one of the founders, James Stephens.