LEXINGTON COUNTY, S.C. — Local restaurants are ready for their phones to ring this weekend, for more visitors dining at their tables and marinas are ready for more sailing on their lake.
"Since we're so close to the lake, we're just hoping it brings in a lot of people. We want people to know that we're open, that if they're coming off the lake and they're busy and they're tired, they want to relax that they can call us. We'll happily provide for them, we'll get a meal ready for them," Camille Doloughty, Tonella's server said.
Tonella's pizza kitchen was able to stay open throughout the thick of the pandemic with to-go orders only.
But with full-service back in the oven, Camille Doloughty says they're ready to dish out more pizza.
"I think so many local businesses were impacted by COVID in such a negative way. A lot of places had to close, a lot of places had to go part-time or change their hours or diminish their staff and I think opportunities like this show local growth and opportunities and it really builds up business for us, other people," Doloughty said.
Archie Trawick, the owner of Jake's landing, one of the oldest marinas on Lake Murray tells me he got some business from a regatta contestant.
"Last week we had someone here that's coming to the regatta that just kept their boat in a temporary slip while they went out and saw what was around the lake and maybe practiced for the race," Trawick said.
But he expects that's about all he'll get. He's just thankful these visitors are getting familiar with the lake.
"People will come from other parts of the country, say how wonderful the lake is for that particular event, but for us, it doesn't really make a lot of difference 'cause the sailboats don't need any gasoline obviously and they're over by the sailing club, but it is good," Trawick said.
All and all, locals are ready for the wind to pick up on this jewel of South Carolina.
Lake Murray's tourism office says they get about 1.5 million visitors from around the world each year.
They also have about 25,000 hotel bookings year-round.
In the first 6 months of 2021, there have been about 30,000 vacation home bookings.