Sullivan Fish Camp – Garden and Gun

When Ben and Kate Towell — the couple who owns design and hospitality firm Basic Projects, Charleston’s Basic Kitchen and Mount Pleasant’s Post House Inn — had the opportunity to reopen the doors of Sullivan’s seafood restaurant, they jumped at the opportunity. The original restaurant, founded by Sammy and Donna Rhodes in 1988, opened just before Hurricane Hugo hit the South Carolina coast. After the nearly destroyed building was rebuilt by the Rhodes family, it became a family-run establishment on Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, beloved by locals and visitors for more than three decades.

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.

Photo: Kirk Robert
The restaurant is located on 2019 Middle Street on Sullivan Island.

Photo: Kirk Robert

A large 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 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.”

Photo: Kirk Robert
The stalls at Fish Camp in Sullivan feature handmade candelabra shades with Lowcountry maps.

Photo: Kirk Robert

The check-in desk features a walk-in window where beachgoers can order swirls of delicious ice cream.

Photo: Kirk Robert
Exterior walk-through window with slate designed by Stitch Design Co.

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.

Photo: Kirk Robert
Baked oysters.

Photo: Kirk Robert

Commissioned pots of scallops stand out from the restaurant’s original menu.

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.

Photo: Kirk Robert
Details include a nautical gallery wall, hand-painted tile with marine life – and one of Kate’s favorite touches – custom patterned wallpaper.

Photo: Kirk Robert

Handcrafted pool lights from Charlestown Stained Glass Studio.

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.”

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