Small Business Story: Cantler’s Riverside Inn Faces Risks During the Off-Season

The CoverWallet Small Business Scholarship encourages entrepreneurship in students by asking them to take on the perspective of a local small business owner. Students share their perspective on the opportunities and challenges faced by a business in their community.

Student: Heather Tinsley, Technical College of the Lowcountry

Small Business: Cantler’s Riverside Inn

Cantler's Riverside Inn

A favorite local business back home for me would be a restaurant that sits on the river and serves a local favorite, steamed crabs. They make everything from scratch and even catch and steam the crabs in house. Some risks they may face would be location and weather, seeing as the restaurant is situated on the water where many customers ride in by boat. Depending on how the weather is outside can seriously affect their business, since the majority of people going to this restaurant want to sit out on the deck and pick crabs, and do not want to do this in the cold or rain. This can also affect their crab catch for the day, especially when it is winter and no longer crab season.  To fix the risk of having winter interfere with the amount of crabs they serve, they outsource and get crabs from Louisiana in the off-season. The crabs from home are better, but crab-catching season has to end to help replenish the crabs for the next summer.

Another risk they deal with is alcohol consumption. Most people like to drink a few beers while boating and will stop to get some food and more drinks before heading back out on the water. This can pose a risk because you need to know when to cut people off, seeing as driving a boat while consuming or having consumed alcohol is against the law. I know that the people who work there go through classes on safely serving alcohol and how to not over serve a customer. This keeps the environment safe for not only those boating, but those enjoying the restaurant and driving home as well.

The offseason poses a risk of decline in clientele, since locals are the only ones visiting the restaurant during the fall and winter. Cantler’s is a great spot for people who are out of town visiting for Naval Academy graduation or vacationing for the summer. But when the summer season is over and tourists go home, they rely on locals to come in and support their business. Being a frequent customer, I have noticed that one way they drum up business is offer local specials in the off-season. One month they did a rockfish dinner, and the next month they offered a crab bruschetta. I really enjoyed both dishes and felt this helped keep their customers coming, especially for a limited time offer. Restaurants definitely face many risks, but if the service and food are great and the location is spot-on, risks should not be too concerning.