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City of Myrtle Beach shut down a free coffee event for veterans. Here's why

Sun News - 2/9/2024

Feb. 9—A free coffee event for veterans event at a downtown Myrtle Beach restaurant was shut down by the city of Myrtle Beach, and the organizers voiced displeasure with the city on social media.

Dirty Myrtle Wing Company, a wing eatery that opened in 2023, was set to have a free coffee for veterans event in collaboration with the Conway, S.C.-based Liberty Brew Coffee Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024. Liberty Brew Coffee is a veteran-focused coffee company that brews different flavors for different United States armed forces branches.

Liberty Brew Coffee Founder David Steadman said about 20-30 people attended the two-hour event before a City of Myrtle Beach Code Enforcement Officer arrived and told them to cease operations because they lacked a business license.

"The code enforcement officer shut us down (and) said we couldn't even if it was free coffee because we were not licensed or didn't have a permit," Steadman added. "It'd be different. I was actually charging for coffee that's a whole different story because we all know that. So for them to shut us down because of giving away free coffee is kind of bizarre in my mind."

Steadman said the enforcement officer then directed him to file for a Myrtle Beach business license, and the city's office helped him with the process.

"(The city employee) was super nice, super helpful," Steadman added.

Steadman says he filed for a permit and was charged $349.50, which included a nine-dollar fine for operating without a license in Myrtle Beach. Liberty Brew Coffee and Dirty Myrtle Wing Company took to social media about what happened.

Dirty Myrtle Wing Company did not return a request for comment before publication.

City of Myrtle Beach Director for Public Information Mark Kruea said that the lack of business and mobile vendor licenses was why code enforcement stopped the event and that all businesses operating within city limits need permits.

"The issue was not with Dirty Myrtle (Wing Company). The issue was with the vendor," Kruea said in an interview with The Sun News. "Everything is copacetic. There is no issue. It was a pleasant conversation, from what I understand. So there is no issue. (Liberty Brew Coffee) understand they need a business license. They understand they need a mobile food truck permit."

He added requiring business licenses was also a fairness issue.

"The city of Myrtle Beach has a very competitive business environment here, and all of the other 10,000 businesses have licenses," he added. "If my business is required to have a license, so should your business be required to have a license."

Despite the delay, Steadman said Liberty Brew Coffee will hold more free coffee events for veterans. Steadman added the next one is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024 again at Dirty Myrtle Wing Company.

"I'm a Marine Corps veteran. It's a veteran-based business, that again, we have a space that is comfortable for them to come in, relax, enjoy themselves, have coffee," He added. "Sometimes that's what vets need; they just need somewhere to gather as one."


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