LAKE WYLIE -- Bad economy? Try telling that to the folks at one Charlotte Highway building where expansion is in and new business is coming.
Palisades resident Bobby Dieffenbach is about two months away from opening Wylie Gators, a restaurant and bar facing S.C. 49 at 4582 Charlotte Hwy., suite 103. Dieffenbach expects 10 to 15 employees to work the sports bar filled with 15 TVs and booths.
"We've still got to figure a few things out," Dieffenbach said.
The Binghampton, N.Y., native owned a bar for 10 years before moving to the Carolinas. However, this is his first time venturing into the kitchen. While lunch and dinner menu details still need to be worked out, he said possible menu items include overstuffed sandwiches, wings and pizza.
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"The menu is not going to be like River Rat," Dieffenbach said. "There won't be steaks and lobster. It'll be more casual than that."
Dieffenbach is confident the restaurant and bar approach will work well, with an outdoor seating area "almost as big as the inside."
If the new establishment looks to do well bringing in locals, it needs not look far for a gameplan. Steve Lorusso, owner of Mad Dog Custom Cycles and the building housing both businesses, closed March 19 on a contract to purchase adjoining business Rally's Biker Leathers & Accessories.
"Our whole showroom's going to basically double in size," said Derek Hoard, mechanic at Mad Dog.
The company will now have more leather and apparal items, along with other Rally's staples. Mad Dog also hired a new parts manager recently, showing the shop can do well even with a sluggish economy.
"We dodged the winter, which was the scariest," Lorusso said. "A bad economy and bad weather for biking, that can be tough."
The new bar, though, could add yet another boost for Lorusso, he said.
"We said if it didn't happen we'd open Mad Dog Tavern," he said. "We've decided it's going to open anyway. It's just something we need here, and it can really drive traffic. It's going to be great."
And, he added, anyone worried about having a "biker bar" on the highway really shouldn't be.
"It's really not a biker clientele as much as it is business professionals who are motorcycle enthusiasts," Lorusso said. "There's a little bit of a difference."