Sullivan’s Fishing Camp – Garden and Gun


When Ben and Kate Towill, the couple who own design and hospitality company Basic Projects, Charleston’s Basic Kitchen and Mount Pleasant’s Post House Inn, got the chance to reopen the doors of Sullivan’s Seafood Restaurant, they jumped on the occasion. The original restaurant, founded in 1988 by Sammy and Donna Rhodes, opened just before Hurricane Hugo hit the South Carolina coast. After the Rhodes rebuilt the nearly destroyed building, it became a family institution on Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, loved by locals and visitors alike for more than three decades.

When the Rhodes planned to retire and close Sullivan’s in 2021, Basic Projects offered to revive the space on Middle Street and honor its history, renaming the place Sullivan’s Fishing Camp. For nearly two years, the team has been revamping the space for its newest chapter starting May 17, 2022, with preservation in mind. The team has retained the “sailor’s lair” spirit by restoring the original bar and woodwork. They added cabins, tables and chairs in dark lacquered wood. During the renovations, they replaced the water-damaged floor, but the new yellow and white checkered linoleum floors maintain a vintage look. “The wood and floor are treated for the coastal climate, and they only get better with age,” says Kate.

photo: Kirk Robert

The restaurant is located at 2019 Middle Street on Sullivan’s Island.

photo: Kirk Robert

A large-scale painting of a map of the island by Nicaraguan artist Augusto Silva hangs behind the original bar.

“From the menu to the old photos, we wanted to keep the same energy that everyone loved at Sullivan’s Seafood Restaurant,” says Kate, who led the restaurant’s renovation and spent months collecting both artwork made-to-measure contemporary art and antique decorations. Above the entrance, a vintage photo of the first restaurant hangs alongside an original menu with sprawling staff signatures. The forward check-in counter remains in the same comfortable corner with a walk-in window and soft serve ice cream machines. Scalloped seashell illustrations, which first appeared on the 1988 menu border, frame the new blue-and-white custom dinnerware. A giant long blue beak, with a brass nameplate reading Bob Marlin, comes with an imaginative story of his capture by Captain Sullivan after Hurricane Hugo. “We like to imagine characters who would have visited the old restaurant,” says Kate. “We’re not afraid to have fun.”

photo: Kirk Robert

Cabins at Sullivan’s Fish Camp feature handmade lamp shades with Lowcountry maps.

photo: Kirk Robert

The check-in counter has a walk-in window where beachgoers can order soft serve ice cream swirls.

photo: Kirk Robert
Walk-in window exterior with a Charleston designed menu Stitch Design Co.

Drinks are also humorous, including tropical drinks with names like Banana Hammock and Pool Boy. Dishes include a swordfish BLT, freshly caught crudo, fried prawns with truffle and parmesan and, Kate’s favourite, a warm brown butter lobster roll.

photo: Kirk Robert

Oysters in the oven.

photo: Kirk Robert

The dishes ordered showcase the scallop imagery from the restaurant’s original menu.

The restaurant’s interior also brings in works by painters, photographers, printmakers and glassmakers, fusing retro nostalgia with contemporary Lowcountry art. “It was important to have a strong sense of belonging,” says Ben. “We wanted the decor to feel like Sullivan’s Island without being fancy. The fact that local artists have added these specific and authentic details. » North Charleston Charlestowne Stained Glass Workshop created custom stained glass lamps featuring Sullivan’s Fishing Camp. The wood-paneled bathroom features a gallery wall of southeastern saltwater fish painted by North Carolina marine biologist and illustrator Duane Raver. There’s even more to the outdoors: above the patio, you can spot the work of famed painter and Sullivan’s Islander Mickey Williams, who created two large-scale landscapes for either side of a pub.

photo: Kirk Robert

Details include a nautical gallery wall, hand painted tiles with sea life and, one of Kate’s favorite touches, custom plaid wallpaper.

photo: Kirk Robert

Handmade billiard lamps by Charlestowne Stained Glass Studio.

While Sullivan’s Fish Camp pays homage to the original seafood restaurant, it also looks to the future, bringing modernity to the space with a refreshing twist on the idea of ​​a traditional fish camp. “Not everything can be what you expect,” Ben says. “Instead of looking back and trying to copy the past, we’re reimagining what a fishing camp can be like in 2022.”

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