Imagine you’re a man at work in the office. A beautiful co-worker approaches you. She is dressed in her business suit; a shining picture of professionalism. You and she hit it off well, and a Friday dinner date ensues. After an amazing dinner where both of you thoroughly enjoyed each others company, a mutual decision to make another date for the following weekend gladly occurs. Each person looks forward to the date with eager prowess.
The following weekend arrives. This time, however, your companion arrives driving her other vehicle for a cruise through the countryside. Dressed in her leather chaps and riding a brand new Harley Davidson Sportster, she says “Come on, lets go for a ride. I’ve got this place you’ve got to try the food at”. You hop on your Harley, and the countryside is yours to enjoy.
Fifteen minutes later the two arrive at the front door of Dinosaur Bar B Que in downtown Syracuse, a Mecca to all who love good food!
Since its opening in 1983, Dinosaur Bar B Que has expanded its business to Rochester, New York City( Harlem), and is presently building a fourth restaurant in the beautiful river view area of Troy. Since its inception, this cash cow has seen hundreds of thousands of customers walk through the doors and has been hailed as one of the best barbecue eateries in the country. Oh, and by the way, it is owned and operated by…you guessed it…bikers.
After visiting friends in Myrtle Beach, SC recently, I was informed that Bike Week, a biker rally attracting motorcycle riders from all over the country, was no longer being welcomed in the city. The local politicians and city council members apparently feel they don’t need the extra revenue created by the over 500,00 free-spirited two-wheelers. The first question that comes to mind is, “Are you serious?”
For the 69 years prior to Mayor John Rhodes’ unprecedented decision, Myrtle Beach had been the home for over half a million visiting riders of Harley Davidson, Indian, Kawasaki, Honda and any other bike model/manufacturer in the world. The annual Memorial Day weekend event has been one of the largest and oldest motorcycle rallies in America. Now the proud brothers and sisters making this annual pilgrimage to the shores of South Carolina have to pick up and go elsewhere.
Bike Week, as it is referred to, is a title which paints with broad brush. “Bike Month” would be a more accurate assessment of a festival that begins on Memorial Day weekend and lasts throughout most of May.
Bikefest, as it’s known to so many local bikers, is separated into two distinct rallies; the Caucasian Biker Rally and the African-American Biker Rally: the latter being the much shorter of the two. According to a few local businessmen, a lot of the bad publicity began when some of the African-American riders were sighted for less-than-acceptable behavior during past festivals. This, according to Mayor Rhodes and his supporting city council members, was where the ‘trouble’ began. The complaining reached a culmination at a town meeting there in 2009 when dozens of local residents poured their hearts out to the city council members and mayor Rhodes. Most of the complaints were directed toward public ludeness, nudity, and the loud engine revving of open-muffler street pipes coming from the motorcycles themselves.
“Restaurant Row”, a long strip of road along South Carolina’s Business Route 17, was one of the areas most seriously affected by the decision to discontinue Bike Week. This 10 mile stretch of road from Atlantic Beach on the North side of Myrtle Beach proper to North Myrtle Beach is home to over 200 restaurants, bars, and night clubs. During Bike Week, an estimated 400 million dollars in revenue is generated as a direct result of purchases made in restaurants, bars, as well as hotels and local hot-spots.
Is it really worth the loss in revenue and potential job creation to make sure that the bikers steer clear from Myrtle Beach?
According to local Myrtle Beach activist Boz Martin, Mayor Rhodes and his political clones believe that the costs associated with having bike rallies in the city are not worth the benefits. Below is part of an article Mr. Martin published about the biker rally, and the subsequent scandalous involvement of one Tom Rice, in the Myrtle Beach area.
“On November 2nd, I wonder how many voters in Horry County will think about Tom Rice and his connection to the scam/scheme/scandal that has come to be known as Chambergate?”
“Chambergate, as it is generally understood (by people who are paying attention), was based around an irrational and extremely wrong-headed war against bikers and bike rallies, waged by the City and its Chamber of Commerce on behalf of a corrupt cabal of crony capitalists greed-heads on the Grand Strand. It has been alleged that the main source for all of the checks was two individuals who dominate the hotel and restaurant industries in the area, and that a lot of funny business went on with the LLCs and the bankers who were involved. There is also the distinct possibility that Katon Dawson and Gresham Barrett were deeply involved, as was local political bigwig (and Dawson’s close associate) Mark Kelly.”
The unemployed restaurant workers, bartenders, and hotel employees will remain on the unemployment line in Myrtle Beach unless something is done to bring back Bike Week. South Carolina will continue as the state with the third highest unemployment rate in the U.S. unless something is done to increase job growth.
Or, maybe Bike Week should come to Syracuse? I can think of one already successful restaurant that would welcome these proud, intelligent and free-wheeling men and women with open arms!