BY CHRIS MOWDER • CHRIS@LISTENUPMB.COM
Admiring the plain gray sheet metal and large white garage doors of KG’s Graffiti Garage there’s not much about this former quick lube shop that screams “fun burger joint.”
But take a step inside and you’ll likely start to see the “cool, different vibe” owner Gary Goss envisioned when he decided to open this brand-new restaurant.
“People hear that it’s an oil change place and they ask why I would want to turn it into a restaurant, but when they actually come in here it’s like ‘Okay, now I get it...’,” said Goss. “The best compliment I get is people coming in, looking around and saying ‘This really isn’t what I expected.’”
With its brightly-painted walls and customer-drawn graffiti — patrons are encouraged to add their own drawings with marker — the atmosphere at KG’s lives up to its unique name and adds another option to the expanding slate of eateries near Coastal Carolina University.
The combination restaurant and bar specializes in thick burgers, big burritos and fresh-cut fries, while offering its patrons cheap drinks and daily happy hour specials.
“I wanted to have a burger joint with a bar, throw in some live music, some TVs and make it a cool hangout,” said Goss.
Goss, an Ohio native who moved to the beach to work for Hard Rock Cafe in 1997, is a veteran of the local restaurant scene. He owned chain restaurant Beef O’Bradys in Carolina Forest for seven years before opening KG’s around the first of March.
“I didn’t want it to be like the chains. What’s becoming popular is all these diners and dives and I thought ‘I want a burger dive’,” he said. “I’d had this concept with the garage doors and when we found this place, it was just perfect.”
While Goss and crew are still working to figure out what will work best for the new spot, he believes there’s plenty of potential for entertainment and events.
He hopes to utilize the restaurant’s outdoor patio — complete with picnic-style tables and a large fire pit — for things such as live music, pig roasts and tailgating for the CCU football games come fall.
“We’ll do some crazy stuff out there when the weather gets nice. We can even lift up these [garage] doors and just let the air come in. It gives this place a really cool vibe,” he said. “We just want to work with the community to do some fun things.”
One thing that’s already helping to draw in patrons is the restaurant’s proximity to campus and the fact that it’s within walking distance to student housing complexes.
“The college is only going to keep growing, so that’s a great thing. I figure for them if you can walk to a place and you don’t have to worry about getting in your car, that’s perfect,” said Goss.
Though being a hangout and catering to the college crowd is an important part of making KG’s a success, Goss says his focus remains on serving up good food and fun atmosphere rather than becoming a full-on night spot.
“I don’t want to be that late night bar,” he says. “We’re hoping to pack folks in come happy hour, let them eat and hang out and then let people get out and go home or move on to the next place.”
Much like the restaurant itself, the menu at KG’s is simple, yet intriguing.
At first glance it doesn’t look like much: A half dozen appetizers, some burgers, a few salads and desserts and a burrito.
But take another look and you’ll find some interesting options ranging from hamburgers topped with eggs and hash browns to dessert nachos and “gourmet” mac & cheese.
“Everyone says they have the best burger in town … but I’ll just say our burgers are great,” said Goss. “We’re doing everything fresh.”
KG’s signature item is the Stuffed Cheeseburger, a unique creation featuring an Angus Beef patty stuffed with cheese and topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup, mustard, mayo and pickle for $8.95.
“Careful not to burn your mouth on the first bite as cheese oozes out,” the menu reads.
Other top sellers include the Hot Mess Burger with plenty of Chili, Monterrey Jack Cheese, Hot Sauce, Jalapenos, Lettuce, Tomato and Onion, and the Breakfast Burger which is topped with a Fried Egg, thick cherry-smoked bacon, American Cheese and Hash brows, lettuce and tomato. Both burgers are $7.95 each.
Choices like the Western Burger, Chili Mac Burger, Pizza Burger and Portobello Stuffed Mushroom Burger round out the best bets for beef-lovers.
Then there are the burritos, which Goss says are probably large enough to feed two people.
Similar in style to what’s served at restaurants like Moe’s or Chipotle, the burritos are filled to the brim with black beans, cilantro rice, monterey jack cheese, fresh onion and corn salsa, lettuce, sour cream and your choice of ground beef or chicken for $7.25. They’re served with chips and salsa and there’s also a veggie option for $4.95.
One item not on the regular menu that Goss hopes will become a success are the chicken wings. Offered during happy hour KG’s offers its hot wings for 25 cents apiece each “Wing Wednesday.”
“They’re great wings. But you better get here early, because even our first few weeks it’s been packed,” said Goss.
The bar will host happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. seven days a week. and will offer a rotating slate of deals including $3 well drinks and discounts on sliders and other food items. One standing deal is the $1.75 Natural Light drafts offered all day, every day.
KG’s Graffiti Garage is located at 676 S.C. 544, Conway. It is open at 11 a.m. Monday through Saturday and noon on Sunday. Happy Hour 4 to 7 p.m. seven days a week. For more details on live entertainment or daily deals follow KG’s on Twitter (@kgsgarage544) or call 347-997.