In Myrtle Beach, barbeque is hot.. in more ways than one

Barbequed meat is supposed to be a bit spicy, but on the Grand Strand this summer, it's barbeque restaurants that are hot.

Simply Southern Smokehouse opened earlier this summer on Mr. Joe White Avenue in Myrtle Beach, a Dickey's Barbeque Pit is set to open in late August in the Plantation Point Plaza and Rockabilly BBQ on North King's Highway opened its doors a few weeks ago.

The barbeque trend is hot enough locally that Horry Georgetown Technical College plans to add barbeque cooking as an elective course when its new culinary arts building is completed in a couple of years.

The program's head chef says there's plenty of room for more barbeque in Myrtle Beach.

"Look how many hundreds of seafood places we have, look how many hundreds of steak houses we have, steak restaurants, things of that nature. Why can't we have a few more barbeque places?" said HGTC's Tom Mullally.

With so many different barbeque places opening up, Rockabilly owner Ted Hammerman says the key to making it in the business is to offer something unique, a feature the other guys don't have.

In Rockabilly's case, it's what Hammerman calls "true Southern barbeque."

"We're not drenching it in sauces as the other barbeque houses do, we're doing it a little bit differently," he said.

Hammerman, who had success with his Mr. Fish restaurant, admits business has been slower in his new place.

He thinks one reason it's tougher in the barbeque biz is that so many people watch barbeque shows on TV and have cookers in their own backyards.

"Everyone's got their own barbeque sauce and their own methods," Hammerman said.

But Hammerman likes the fact that the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism will soon begin a marketing campaign for barbeque houses around the state.

And Chef Mullally says the barbeque trend will stick around because it's a comfort food that's versatile.

"There's just so many things you can do with barbeque," Mullally said.

Click here for a link to the Eastern South Carolina Heritage "barbeque trail".