Is McMaster’s program for restaurants working in the Grand Strand? We asked

Grand Strand

(WBTW) — Governor Henry McMaster announced the Palmetto Priority Pledge on June 23. A program created so that South Carolina restaurants can pledge to keep up with DHEC’s standards for social distancing and cleaning for customer safety during the pandemic.

It has been almost 3 weeks since the program’s launch with some local restaurants participating in the program. A seal of compliance is posted on participating restaurants doors for the public to see.

News13 visited two pledged restaurants to see what the reaction has been from the public; Tavern in the Forest in Carolina Forest and Preston’s Family Restaurant in North Myrtle Beach.

“For us, its been overwhelmingly positive,” says Drew Doss, general manager of Tavern in the Forest. “We already have a very supportive community around us anyway and this just seems to have brought everybody together even more.”

Doss explained that the restaurant was closed for cleaning during the interview. Doss says that the restaurant decided to participate in the program because they were already practicing their own social distancing.

“We have a lot of people tell all of their friends that we are a part of the Palmetto Priority Program,” Doss continues, “And the things that we are doing that are kind of going above and beyond to make sure that we are ensuring the safety of our guests and our staff.”

Preston’s Family Restaurant is usually a buffet-style restaurant but made the necessary changes to comply with DHEC’s standards. The restaurant now offers a traditional style menu for guests as well as take-out options.

“Honestly, its been a lot of work and research, knowing which link to go to,” says Robin Wright, office manager of Preston’s Family Restaurant. “And making sure you do this, do this, do this, do this and its a lot to follow through. But in the end, of course, the safety of everyone is the most important thing.”

Jane McMichael, the owner of Preston’s, also enrolled her restaurant in North Myrtle Beach’s program for restaurants.

After speaking with the restaurants, local residents interviewed did not even know that the program existed. After a brief explanation, every one of them agreed that participating in the program is something a restaurant should do to ensure the safety of its customers.

“Just knowing that all the social distancing guidelines are being followed upon,” Brody Deaton, a South Carolina visitor, said after being told about the program. “So I know when I go in [the restaurant], I’m not in any more of an increased risk as anywhere else. If anything I’d feel a little safer dining there as to another restaurant.”

The residents also agreed that they would be more likely to dine at a restaurant in the program than one that is not.

“If fact, we’ve been to a couple of restaurants where we noticed the servers weren’t wearing masks and that gave us a little pause,” a resident says. “So we probably wouldn’t go back if they weren’t wearing masks.”

For a list of the pledged restaurants, information on the program, and if you are a restaurant seeking to make the pledge, visit

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