Loco Gecko is a trip to a twilight zone where folks can enjoy finger food, beer and other beverages, while watching sporting events and just straight chilling. It is where uptown hipness meets Southern-fried soul and hospitality.
This Myrtle Beach oceanfront hot spot at Captain’s Quarters Resort, 805 S. Ocean Blvd., is part New York, a little bit Vegas and just enough country to make visitors feel at ease.
The adult humor motifs reveal Loco Gecko’s multiple personalities.
Exhibit No. 1: The white sign with blue letters against the wall near the entrance reads: “Love Thy Neighbor, But Don’t Get Caught.”
Exhibit No. 2: In the women’s restroom, there is an image of an almost- bald man, wearing glasses, sitting on a toilet and holding a newspaper to shield his family jewels from view.
Exhibit No. 3: One of the numerous messages on the dining room’s colorful vinyl floor reads: “Beer – Helping Ugly People Have Sex Since 1862.”
You should be laughing by now, and if you are not, stay away from Loco Gecko.
But if those sayings at least made you smile, Loco Gecko is the kind of place you can appreciate.
“The restaurant’s ambience is all about high energy,” said Shoshanna Brevard, front house supervisor. “It’s a great place to be.”
A bumper sticker given to a guest by Jan Hemelrick, general manager, summarizes Loco Gecko’s mantra for each customer: “Our outcome is to give people one of the most fun, exciting, enjoyable, dining experiences of their lives!”
Loco Gecko opened in July 2012 and reopened for the 2013 season on Valentine’s Day. The eatery has a seating capacity of about 130, including outdoor dining areas.
“This was our first time eating here,” said Amber Keenan, a Mocksville, N.C., resident on Loco Gecko’s Facebook page, in a posted written Valentine’s Day. “Mackenzie was an awesome waitress and the food was awesome. Keep up the good work.”
The ambience seems to make it impossible not to have a good time at Loco Gecko. Psychedelic shades of purple, orange, green, yellow and blue are throughout the building, showing up most often on tables with images of the unnamed Loco Gecko mascot. Although this lizard is not as polished-looking as the Geico gecko, it still represents the mood of the eatery. Each table painting shows relaxing in a hammock while wearing a sombrero, red sunglasses and flashing a big toothy, smile. It is holding a red and white straw that is positioned securely in a tall glass of margarita.
Quirky souvenirs featuring the Loco Gecko mascot include T-shirts, beer cozies, visors and hats, with prices ranging from $1.49 (for the beer cozies) to $17.99 for T-shirts.
“Loco Gecko is pretty self-descriptive,” said Hemelrick, as Adam Ant’s “Goody Two Shoes” pounded through the eatery’s sound system. “It’s all about happy times. It’s all about you and your dining experience. We want to do what we can do to make this the most awesome experience for you. We want you to have a blast.”
The lava lamp bar is popular with men and women viewing their favorite sports teams on one of the 12 flat screen televisions.
Chris Willis, a Loco Gecko bartender, said the most popular drink here is the Coronita-Rita – it’s a 7-ounce Coronita or Coronita Light inserted upside down into a giant glass of margarita. It costs $7.95.
Other drinks include wine, domestic beer, beer cocktails ($6.50 or $7.95), Sex on the Beach ($5.75) and Long Island Ice Tea ($6.50).
The menu, from the appetizers to the main menu, is an exercise in finger food. There are the familiars like fried pickles, onion rings, Gecko Macho Nachos (a mound of nachos with all the traditional toppings) and 747’s (jumbo chicken wings fried to a crisp).
However, there is at least one appetizer folks might be shocked to see – Rocky Mountain Oysters ($9.89), which are hand selected, breaded and deep fried. If you want this Western delicacy as a sandwich, order Blue Balls on Fire, which crowns a 6-ounce Angus burger with the bull calf testicles and adds jalapeno peppers and crumbled bleu cheese ($12.29). Other menu items include seafood baskets, salads, wraps, pizzas and a couple of desserts.
Whatever you order, Hemelrick and the rest of his staff want to make sure you are satisfied with every aspect of your visit.
“When people come to Loco Gecko, they are going to have personalized service,” Hemelrick said. “We want them to put their feet up and have fun. We are here for them. People have asked for things on the menu we didn’t have, and I went out and got it for them. I train my servers to never say the word ‘no.’’’
If you go:
What: Loco Gecko Beach Shak (Restaurant and Bar), 805 S. Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach, S.C. 29577
Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Wednesday through Saturday (until March); 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily (starting April)
Food: American fare, including burgers, fries, seafood baskets and pizza
Cost: Appetizers start at $4.29. Salads start at $5.29, while baskets start at $8.99. Burgers and wraps start at $7.89. Kid’s menu prices range from $3.89 to $5.89.
Entertainment: 12 flat screen televisions for viewing sports and live music featuring local musicians (starting in the summer)
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