When Rhodes planned to retire and close the doors to Sullivan in 2021, Core Projects offered to revive the space on Middle Street and honor its history, renaming the Sullivan Fish Camp site. For nearly two years, the team has been renovating the space for its new classroom starting May 17, 2022 – with conservation in mind. The team preserved the ‘den of the seas’ feel, restoring the original keel and planks. They added booths, tables and chairs in dark lacquered wood. During the renovations, they replaced the water-damaged floor, but the new yellow and white linoleum floors maintains an antique look. “The wood and flooring is treated for coastal weather, and it only gets better with age,” says Kate.
“From the menu to the old photos, we wanted to maintain the same energy that everyone loved at Sullivan’s Seafood Restaurant,” says Kate, who led the restaurant’s renovation and spent months collecting both contemporary artwork and antique decor. Above the entrance, an old photo of the first restaurant hangs with an original menu with staff signatures sprawling. The front check-in desk remains in the same cozy corner with a large window and ice cream servos. Illustrations of seashells, which first appeared on the borders of the 1988 menu, frame the new custom blue-and-white pots. A giant blue long beak, with a copper plaque written on Bob Marilyn, accompanied by a fictional story about Captain Sullivan’s capture after Hurricane Hugo. “We like to imagine the characters who would have visited the old restaurant,” Kate says. “We’re not afraid to have some fun.”
Drinks play with humor as well, including tropical lizards with names like Banana Hammock and Pool Boy. Dishes include swordfish BLT, fresh crudo, fried shrimp with truffles and Parmesan, Kate’s favorite, and a hot brown butter lobster roll.
The restaurant’s interior also brings in work from painters, photographers, printmakers, and glassmakers, blending nostalgia with contemporary Lowcountry art. “It was important to have a strong sense of place,” Ben says. “We wanted the decor to spoil Sullivan Island without being extravagant. Local artists added those specific and original details.” Charlestowne Stained Glass Studio in North Charleston has created custom stained glass lamps decorated with them Fish Camp in Sullivan. The paneled bathroom features a wall gallery of southeastern saltwater fish painted by North Carolina marine biologist and painter Duane Ravier. There’s more out there: Above the patio, you can discover the work of famous painter Mickey Williams, the local Sullivan Island painter, who created oversized landscapes for every side of the pub sign.
While Sullivan’s Fish Camp celebrates the original seafood restaurant, it’s also forward-looking, bringing modernity to the space with a refreshing spin on the idea of a traditional fish camp. “Not everything can be as expected,” says Ben. “Instead of looking at the past and trying to copy the past, we are reimagining what the fish camp could be in 2022.”