Staff report for Island Eye News
The team behind Charleston-based hotel group Basic Projects has announced the official opening of Sullivan’s Fish Camp, opening this month at 2019 Middle Street on Sullivan’s Island. Designed to look like an old-fashioned fishing lodge, Sullivan’s is a laid-back, family-friendly neighborhood spot serving seafood, cold drinks, and frozen cocktails. Influenced by its oceanfront location, Sullivan’s presents a bright, contemporary take on the traditional Southern fishing lodge, offering a fresh perspective steeped in nostalgia and rooted in high-quality offerings and local ingredients. The Sullivan team is made up of familiar faces, including owner/operators Ben and Kate Towill; general manager Jonathan Bentley, who worked for many years at nearby restaurant The Obstinate Daughter; executive chef Davis Hood; and bar manager Jordan Moton. Sullivan’s is the third concept of Basic Projects, which also owns and operates Basic Kitchen in Charleston and Post House Inn in Mount Pleasant. The team lovingly restored the iconic Sullivan’s Seafood Restaurant, a family-run institution known for its shrimp and grits, homemade key lime pie and small-beach-town atmosphere for over 30 years. The original Sullivan’s opened in 1988, just before Hurricane Hugo hit and nearly destroyed the restaurant. Owners Sammy Rhodes and Donna Rhodes Hiott rebuilt and Sullivan became a tradition for island visitors and locals alike for a quarter of a century.
Basic Projects hopes to carry this treasured institution forward over the next 30 years, preserving the elements that endeared it to the community while introducing a new vision for the neighborhood landmark.
Growing up on IOP, jumping off the piers and finding any bit of surf, Chef Hood has developed a menu true to his history and personality – playful, beach-perfect and inspired by Southern ingredients. With a focus on local fishermen and farmers, Chef Hood’s menu is filled with fresh and playful iterations of Fish Camp classics, balancing fried seafood baskets, with brilliant crudos, daily oysters, First Jetty seafood spins and perfected lobster rolls. As it should be, the dessert menu features soft serve with extra nuggets, a delicacy from the seaside town.
A beachfront restaurant wouldn’t be complete without a long list of cool drinks, and the Sullivan’s cocktail program features a variety of classic and modern drinks. Moton takes notes on the ’70s tiki craze with MaiTais and Daiquiris, a Frozen Paloma on tap, cold beer and an extensive wine list. Highlights include the “Banana Hammock” with whiskey, coconut, banana, and bitters, and the “Big Gulp,” a large-format cocktail served in a blown-glass fish bottle.
Continuing the seaside summer vacation theme, a merch shack at the front of the restaurant is well stocked with beach bags, iconic t-shirts and hats, as well as bottle openers and hats. floating keychains. Sullivan’s design direction speaks to its core identity as a Fish Camp carried forward into the next thirty years. Kate Towill, founder and creative director of Basic Projects, designed the restaurant and worked with several local artists and businesses to create a space rooted in Sullivan’s Island and South Carolina. Island resident and local artist Mickey Williams created an old English pub sign for the restaurant’s exterior, and Duane Raver, the legendary artist of the original SCDNR fishing maps, lent Sullivan his illustrations for their placemats. Custom stained glass billiard lamps by Charlestowne Stained Glass Studio and millwork by local artisan Ryan McKiernan round out the key pieces. Other notable design elements include an oversized map of Sullivan’s Island commissioned by Nicaraguan artist Augusto Silva. As if you were entering the cabin of a 1970s sailboat, the dining room is furnished in marine-style lacquered wood. Floors are made up of bright yellow and cream checkered linoleum tiles, and a mix of vintage pieces and colorful, playful art and patterns bring a sense of whimsy throughout. The team worked with local design firm SDCO on thoughtful branding elements with a sense of humor, including quirky signage, custom ceramic plates and glasses, and a fully stocked merchandising shack filled with t-shirts, bags, hats, boat floats and bottle openers.
Sullivan’s will be open for lunch and dinner, Monday through Sunday, and reservations will soon be posted on Resy. For more information, visit sullivansfishcamp.com and follow @sullivansfishcamp on social networks.