Wednesday, February 19, 2014
The Beaver Bar parking lot is usually filled with motorcycles.
But on Sunday mornings it undergoes a transformation.
Bikes share space with Buicks, Beemers and any number of other cars, whose riders are lured by hot, strong coffee, scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, sausage, hash — part of a $5 all-you-can-eat brunch where the proceeds go to help Grand Strand charitable organizations, folks in need and nonprofit groups.
Leslye Beaver and her staff have been serving up the goods for more than five years, but recently the word has gotten out via word of mouth and the sign in front of the biker-friendly bar. From 8 a.m. to noon, the bar’s dance floor turns into a serving area, part of the bar area holds coffee urns and the crowd is definitely not the usual biker bar clientele.
Everyone is welcomed — first timers to old-timers.
While cooks Michael Bethea and David Clark are paid, most of the people involved at the front of the house volunteer. They do it for a belief in helping others, says Russ Bonvie, who presides as “cashier” and the welcoming committee, especially to the newcomers.
“I recognize them by the ‘deer in the headlights’ look,” Bonvie said, passing out the plates and collecting the $5 a head. “The food’s that way,” he says to a group of four who admit it’s their first time.
“Coffee’s on the bar, anything else, check with the bartender.”
Bethea and Clark get little time to look around as the tables start filling up right from 8 a.m. “We go through three to four 10-gallon buckets of eggs,” Bethea says, deftly turning the eggs spread out on the grill, moving them into a serving bowl and replacing the empty bowl on the serving table.
Eggs don’t have time to get dry and bacon stays warm as the diners fill their plates.
Clark handles the bacon — eight, nine, 10 boxes a day, he says, dropping a giant handful into the hot fat, putting it into serving bowls and then doing the same with sausage — links and patties.
The two men arrive at the bar at 5 or 5:30 a.m. and get their exercise walking from the kitchen to the buffet tables with the hot food steadily until things wind down about noon or a little later, depending on the crowd.
“It’s like eating Momma’s food,” said Ed Haluszka, a former truck driver, sitting next to his friend John Harlow, who also drove trucks for a living.
“We come here during the week for beers. This is just giving support to the community and to the bar,” Harlow said.
Gene Varn and his wife, Betty, have been coming to the brunches for years.
“I remember that Leslye used to do this for free, for a donation. Then she went up to a whole three dollars,” he laughed.
“We come to shag on Wednesdays and to eat on Sundays,” added Betty Varn.
It’s the charitable giving that draws people, too.
“Leslye’s been quietly giving to the community for years,” said Terri Smith.
In a way, that giving is what led to the start of the Sunday brunches. “I’d get requests for help and people asking how they could help. This way, those that need help and those that want to help can do so,” Beaver said.
It’s not unusual to feed 300 to 400 people on a Sunday, with money going to individuals, the schools and other groups.
Attendance varies — although the record is about 700 — depending on the cause or how far the word has spread about the spread.
“We came all the way from Prince Edward Island,” joked Wylie Hall, a snowbird who winters in the area so he can get in some serious golfing. “One of my golfing buddies told me about this and I’ve been coming ever since.”