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La Vida Hospitality expands footprint to South Carolina

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Josh Grapski of La Vida Hospitality says the company has had success in expanding to South Carolina. l PHOTO COURTESY OF LA VIDA HOSPITALITY

Josh Grapski of La Vida Hospitality says the company has had success in expanding to South Carolina. l PHOTO COURTESY OF LA VIDA HOSPITALITY

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH — Diversification is the name of the game for Delaware-based La Vida Hospitality, which recently expanded the company’s footprint with a new restaurant in sunny South Carolina.

While the company has no plans of leaving its Delaware roots, expanding into another state was important for its strategic growth, according to Managing Partner for Marketing and Development Josh Grapski.

La Vida Hospitality’s popular eateries in Delaware include Big Chill Surf Cantina and Big Chill Beach Club, as well as its Crooked Hammock brewery locations and the Taco Reho food truck. With continued success underway, the company was ready for its next big splash –North Myrtle Beach.

The Crooked Hammock brand opened a location in early 2021 as the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic started to slow down. More recently, the Big Chill brand opened its Big Chill Island House in April of this year.

Grapski said maintaining the Delaware locations while opening new restaurants in another state was “primarily a business strategy,” adding that South Carolina was a great fit for La Vida Hospitality. 

“Our brands have a lot of outdoor elements. Moving to warmer weather was the most obvious choice,” he told the Delaware Business Times. “Our first thought was to work with contiguous states, but we knew we always wanted to get to the Carolinas and the reason we got to South Carolina was just – opportunity.”

He added that the move for the company will give leaders a regional focus, allowing them to think with a broader lens to spur growth and more opportunities in the future. 

From a business standpoint, the change in scenery was needed and welcomed, Grapski told DBT. Delaware uniquely caps brew pub licenses to just three locations and currently prohibits brewery-to-retailer sales without a distributor. But Grapski said that cap was not a major factor in growing the company out of Delaware. Instead, he said recent laws in the First State have been making him uneasy.

“There are more business-friendly laws down there than Delaware. Delaware is becoming more pro-employee, which is a great thing in my mind, but it’s creating a lot more difficulty to do business here,” he said. “I’m not opposed to the process of looking at how employees can afford a better life, I think that’s an important part for society in general. But I think a lot of the legislation is being forced on businesses very quickly [in Delaware].”

Grapski cited the rising minimum wage as an example of legislative concerns felt by business owners, along with insurance requirements, time off needs and other issues. 

“All of those things end up getting placed on the business owner,” he told DBT. “You just get put in this position where it doesn’t sound like our voices are being heard or, really, the reality of the situation is being heard.”

Despite the legalities of business-life in Delaware, Grapski said La Vida Hospitality’s new locations will only enhance the brands under the company umbrella. 

“I love Delaware. It’s been a great state to do business in for the last 20 years. I think of it more like diversification,” Grapski told DBT. “We have great relationships in Delaware. I love living in Delaware and being here but, at the same time, we have to look at how we [as a company] are going to stay healthy and that’s through diversification.”

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