The Dog House
Cooper’s Tavern in Little River, named for the owner’s pet dog, is well on its way to becoming a howling success.
Making your beer garden, tap room or brewery dog-friendly is one thing. Naming your business after your favorite family canine is a whole other level. And that Cooper’s Tavern, open for less than 18 months, is thriving may mean that Taylor Denny has found the right combination for success where others have not.
Located just “across the line” in Little River, South Carolina, where both Carbone’s and Joey O’s Pizza used to be, the tavern is set back a bit off Highway 17 south, just past the Mexican restaurant and directly across from the Parson’s Table. This is worth mentioning because a totally road-focused driver might sail right past it. An ample parking lot — and a soon-to-be outdoor dining and drinking area — awaits, as does a very wide swath of bar as soon as you enter.
I was tipped to Cooper’s by my buddy Alicia, a pretty savvy beer nut in her own right, who suggested I visit. I owe her profuse thanks.
The bar was pretty full of garrulous, laughing folks at 5:30 p.m. (Happy Hour with special food and beverage prices) being attended by two engaging and equally friendly bar staff. I got the feeling that these bar folks were regulars, as everyone seemed to greet each other upon entering.
And while the delightful manager, Erin, allowed that the clientele was very diverse at Cooper’s, my observation was that there was a preponderance of folks my age and slightly younger — aka geezers — in the house. And that’s a good sign.
The place began to fill up closer to 6 pm, and our server, Denise, another delightful gal, attested that while Cooper’s gets “crazy” during the season, the largest crowds during the off-season are weeknight visitors.
And it’s not hard to see why. The food is phenomenal, the atmosphere is comfortable, the staff is exceptionally friendly and efficient, and the prices are reasonable.
We began with a Happy Hour plate of huge, succulent, perfectly done Snack Shrimp in a bang-bang sauce that was seasoned with just enough bang. The missus had a nice glass of Chardonnay, and I enjoyed a New Anthem “I Got Us Two Tickets.”
For our meals, the missus ordered a Spicy Black Bean Burger served on Lettuce Wrap topped with Cooper’s exceptional Horry Country Caviar. It came with Sweet Potato Waffle Fries. “Absolutely delicious!” raved my smiling spouse.
Denise advised that Cooper’s burgers were “to die for,” and I had no reason to doubt the Philly transplant, but I was in the mood for a French Dip, and Cooper’s French Dip was nothing short of superb, accompanied by expertly done regular waffle fries.
The savory au jus was joined by horseradish, and the roll it arrived on was pleasantly warm and both crunchy and soft where it needed to be.
Best of all, the bill didn’t cause cardiac arrest.
Which augurs very well for frequent return visits to a place that is named for a dog.
Want to go?
1521 U.S. Highway 17, Little River, SC