Big Chill Island House opens in North Myrtle Beach

DELAWARE-based La Vida Hospitality recently expanded its footprint with the opening of the Big Chill Island House restaurant in sunny South Carolina.

Josh Grapski, Managing Partner for Marketing and Development, said that expanding into another state was important to the company’s growth strategy.

The Big Chill Surf Cantina and Big Chill Beach Club are among La Vida Hospitality’s popular Delaware restaurants, along with its Crooked Hammock brewery and Taco Reho food truck. With continued success underway, the company was ready for its next big splash – Big Chill Island House in North Myrtle Beach.

During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2021, Crooked Hammock opened its first location. More recently, Big Chill opened its Big Chill Island House.

While keeping Delaware restaurants open while opening new ones in other states is “primarily a business strategy,” Grapski said, adding that South Carolina is a great fit for La Vida Hospitality.

“Our brands have many outdoor elements, so moving to warmer weather was a natural choice,” he told the Delaware Business Times. Initially, we thought we might work with contiguous states, but we knew we had always wanted to reach the Carolinas, and the reason we decided to go to South Carolina was simply an opportunity.”

With the move, the company will gain a regional focus, enabling leaders to think with a broader lens to spur future growth and opportunities.

From a business standpoint, the change in scenery was needed and welcomed, Grapski told DBT. The state of Delaware limits the number of brew pubs to just three locations and currently prohibits brewery-to-retailer sales without distributors. In spite of that cap, Grapski said it was not a major factor in his decision to move his company out of Delaware. He said recent laws in the First State have caused him some discomfort instead.

It is easier to do business in those states than it is in Delaware. Delaware is becoming more pro-employee, which is a great thing in my opinion, but it is making it more difficult to do business here. However, I think that a lot of the legislation is being forced on businesses very quickly [in Delaware]. I don’t oppose looking at how employees can afford a better life, I think that’s a vital part of society.

Among the legislative concerns felt by business owners are the rising minimum wage, insurance requirements, and the need for time off.

In his quote to DBT, he stated, “All of those things end up being put on the business owner. It doesn’t sound like our voices are being heard or, really, the reality of the situation is being heard.”

Grapski said La Vida Hospitality’s new locations will only enhance the brands under the company’s umbrella despite the legalities of business in Delaware.

It’s a great state to do business in, Grapski said to DBT. “I think of it more as diversification,” he added. “We have wonderful relationships in Delaware.” I love living in Delaware and being here, but at the same time we have to look at how we [as a company] can remain healthy, and that’s through diversification.”