Gigi's — Bringing the beach to the mountainsCustomer: "This is what you see at Myrtle Beach"
On Jonathan Creek, Ginger Fluery is better known simply as “GiGi” — a vivacious and sharp business lady in the brightest yellow building on the creek who residents describe as a good-hearted, down-to-earth woman who can cook up anything.
“It’s just plain, really, really good food,” said customer Hank Ross of Ralph Ross & Sons Dairy Farm on Jonathan Creek.
Why a bright yellow building?
Fluery, originally a native of Cocoa Beach, Florida, wanted to bring a piece of the beach to the mountains.
“This is what you see at Myrtle Beach where I’m from,” said Eddie Wells, a first-time customer at GiGi’s. “You feel comfortable the minute you walk in the door.”
When customers open the door to the spacious dining area attached to a bright yellow food service trailer, they are surrounded by the “beach.” With flip flops on the wall and signs like “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem,” “Life is Just Beachy,” and “It’s 5 o’clock Somewhere,” they almost expect Jimmy Buffett to pull onto Jonathan Creek in his tour bus and stroll through the front door to eat casually at the picnic-table seats.
“I miss home, so this makes home right here,” said Fluery, a former Publix deli employee and manager who moved to Jonathan Creek permanently in 2006 to care for her nephew, Victor “Bugsby” Villarreal.
In 2006, she started out with just a small stand and sold shaved ice, ice cream and hot dogs, and then, in 2008, her husband Jeff Fluery encouraged her to expand with the current location, even building the current structure with the help of family and customer volunteers before he passed away in 2009.
She honors her husband’s memory daily as she cooks up fresh food — and she does mean fresh.
Jonathan Creek employees who loyally line up at the restaurant attest to the fact that she goes shopping every day for all the food — ranging from burgers, hot dogs, subs, salads, Philly cheesesteak and Cuban sandwiches to banana splits and milkshakes and lots in between. Everything is made to order.
“It is a lot of work, but it’s the best job I’ve ever had,” said Fluery, noting that she couldn’t do the job without the help of her uncle, Jack, who sets up the dining area each morning. “I just try to make sure everybody’s happy and I tell them, ‘If it’s not good, you tell me.’”
The first item on her menu, Fluery is proud to point out, is the “Bugsby Burger,” a full half-pound burger named in honor of her nephew.
“My favorite is the Bugsby Burger and, if you want to go bigger, the Double-Bugsby is the way to go,” said customer Kevin Gregg. “I’ve eaten here about 30 times at least and that burger is so good that I order it every time!”
Her customers love her unique spirit and the light-hearted atmosphere she brings to the place.
As customers Eddie Wells and Mike Hannon stood in line, Wells, a first-time customer, asked Fluery how the Cuban sandwich was prepared and she answered, “It comes with ham, salami, pork, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles — it’s what that guy over there in the brown is having!”
“He said you can have a bite of it for $2,” said Wells’ friend, Mike Hannon, before Wells ordered the Cuban for himself and a hot dog for his yellow Lab, Chopper, who was sitting patiently in the bed of his pick-up truck.
“Chopper knows he eats when I eat,” said Wells.
After her first-time customer finished his Cuban sandwich and his dog finished the hot dog, Fluery made sure they were satisfied with their meals, and they were.
“I don’t want anybody walking away from here unhappy,” said Fluery.
When Wells ordered a banana split for dessert, Fluery asked light-heartedly, “Are you going to split that banana split with your dog too?”
She didn’t have to ask if the new customer and his yellow Lab were happy with the banana split.
In just a few minutes, that banana split was gone.
GiGi’s is open year-round on Jonathan Creek. To contact Fluery, call 926-6020.