Tripp Nealy’s plans are expanding as work begins to take down the old Jerry Cox warehouse.
Instead of one restaurant, that he has already named Under the Bridge, he is now envisioning perhaps two steak and seafood restaurants.
“I think this is one of the most beautiful pieces of property in our county,” Nealy said as he stood in front of the old warehouse that is already showing bare rafters, due to workers already pulling off shingles and some pieces of the roof.
“I want to make it (Conway) a destination town. I’m trying to show people just how pretty it is down here on the river. We want to pull people from Carolina Forest, Socastee and all over the county,” he said.
Although he does already have other investors interested in the project, he says some of his plans for a second restaurant could change by the time he’s ready to open.
“We’re actually looking for the best thing that would go down here,” he said.
Now he’s headed back to Conway City Council for more approvals for Under the Bridge. This time he hopes to get approval for the upper floor of the restaurant, designed for 56 diners, to jut out slightly over the Riverwalk.
Because the city owns all of the property in the area, except what business owners have purchased for their ventures, he must have approval for the upper floor to cross over a small amount of the riverwalk.
Nealy estimates now that it will be spring before construction on the new restaurant can begin, and it could take as much as one year to be ready to welcome diners.
The restaurant is designed to take the same shape as the old warehouse and will bring along with it some memories of the old building that sits on Conway’s waterfront.
Although they are working now to take down the building, there won’t be any bulldozers over there knocking it down. They’re removing the wood “piece by piece” with plans to use some of it inside the new restaurant, and Nealy hopes to save the entire side of the building that faces the river where riverwalk strollers have long added graffiti and scribbling marking major moments in their lives.
Nealy feels certain that as they work on the old warehouse they will find more interesting things. He isn’t sure how old the building is, but said he’s seen newspaper stories dating back to 1864 that refer to it. He said over the years, the warehouse has stored everything from cotton, to wood, turpentine, tobacco and feed for horses.
“I’m excited about this project, probably more than anything I’ve done,” he said.