Cold Drinks, Amazing Food and Good Times
by Melissa LaScaleia
Taylor Peugh was born and raised in sunny L.A. He served for eight years in the United States Marine Corps, and after some exploration, took up residence in Charlotte, NC. He became an entrepreneur, starting several companies and real estate ventures. The Jerk Shack is his latest endeavor.
“I met my wife, Kim, in Charlotte,” he says. “And her family lives in Murrells Inlet. After five years of driving back and forth for holidays, we decided, in July 2020, to relocate to Myrtle Beach.”
In August, The Jerk Shack restaurant became available for purchase, and Taylor and Kim decided to embrace their new life at the beach as well as a new adventure. They bought it— and took over operations the following month.
Today, The Jerk Shack is a bar and grille that offers dinner-sized salad plates, burgers, tacos, wings, and other bar-food classics all day long, all served with the zeal and open-heartedness that the dynamic husband and wife team bring to the table both literally and figuratively.
“I had no prior experience in a restaurant or in the industry,” Taylor laughs. “And in the middle of Covid, I thought, ‘Let’s buy a restaurant.’ I owned a number of home services businesses, like carpet cleaning and things in that category. But because of Covid, we stopped those services. I was looking for something new, and the challenge of a restaurant sounded like fun to me.”
Upon first taking over the business, Taylor’s goal was to, in his words, “Get really loud really fast.” He took out ads on the radio, took to social media to engage the community, and offered a variety of daily specials.
“My philosophy with my customers is like how one would approach successful dating,” he says. “The first time you think, ‘It’s okay, I’ll come again.’ The second time: ‘You have my interest.’ And the third time, ‘Yeah, I’m into this.’ If you come to my restaurant three times, I consider you to be my longterm customer, and I’m going to take care of you and I want you to have a great experience every time you come through the door.”
Like all restaurants during the age of Covid, The Jerk Shack is experiencing staffing shortages, but for Taylor and Kim, working around that has been entertaining for them— as this go-getting couple consistently rise to whatever challenges their new endeavor brings.
“We focus on everything that’s going right,” Taylor says with enthusiasm. “Our location is great and we always provide cold drinks, amazing food and a good time. We sample all the products and take the time to taste-test each finished item on the menu. We use the best possible ingredients we can find.”
The Jerk Shack hand-presses their hamburger patties rather than using pre-made ones. Taylor explains how a hand-pressed patty tastes better because there’s more air in it; when you take a bite, it doesn’t taste compressed.
One of their most popular menu items is their Island Rice Bowl, which offers a choice of three types of rice and six types of protein and includes plantains and seasonal vegetables.
“I have a really great team that makes everything possible,” Taylor says. “They are the ones who will assist me, saying— ‘That’s not to our standards, let’s remake it.’”
Taylor and Kim are happy to call Myrtle Beach home, and enjoy giving back to the community. They encourage anyone who has a fundraiser they’d like help with to reach out to them.
“We want to be good stewards of the community, as we feel that’s part of what it means to be a small business owner,” he says.
The couple are very involved in the local Toys for Tots movement, and have commenced collecting toy donations for the holiday season at their restaurant already. Those donations are guaranteed to stay in Horry County.
“Toys for Tots really impacted my life growing up,” Taylor says. “Without them, I wouldn’t have had a Christmas. Last year’s turn out was great— we had to rent a U-Haul to drop all of the toys off— and this year we want it to be just as good. It’s a great feeling to give back to our community.”
“If you haven’t been to our restaurant, come out,” he adds. “And if you have, come back.”
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