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Owner operated restaurants

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Jamestown, New York
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Owner operated restaurants

K and I will be vacationing in Hilton Head Apr 12-19 for Spring Break, and we are looking for recommendations of favorite owner operated restaurants to visit. Not really interested in chain or restaurant group establishments. We like all types of food. Thanks!

Daufuskie Island
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1. Re: Owner operated restaurants

You might be wondering why you haven't gotten any responses to this question... it doesn't apply to Hilton Head!

The island has maybe 250 restaurants and there are only a handful of chains on the island... Carrabas, Applebys, Outback, Fishbones, 2 McDonald's, 1 Burger King, 1 KFC, 1 Arbys, 2 Wendys, 1 Dunkin Donuts, Panera Bread, Atlanta Bread Co, a few chain ice cream stores and several Starbucks (of course). I probably missed a couple of others. Even most of these are local franchisees.

That means all the rest are locally owned, even the SERG group restaurants are run by locals.

My Favorites:

Crane's Tavern

Alexander's

Roastfish and Cornbread

Sea Shack

Yummy House

Hinoki

Hugo's

Bully's BBQ

One Hot Mamas

Kenny B's

Redfish

Annie O's

Lowcountry Back Yard

Skull Creek Boathouse

Ray's Cafe

Harold's Diner

It's Greet to Me II

Market Street Cafe

Hilton Head Ice Cream

Pino Gelato

Asian Bistro

Marshside Mamas (Daufuskie)

Amigos Cafe

A new place opened this week that I want to try... Java Burrito Company in the Village at Wexford ...Coffee and burritos is a weird combination but I like good burritos. They will have to be outstanding to beat Amigo's Cafe.

Google all of these or check the www.hhidinging.com dining guide for menus

Enjoy and report back!

Jeff

Jamestown, New York
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129 posts
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2. Re: Owner operated restaurants

Thanks for the info and great list Jeff!! Since we are staying at Sea Crest Resort it is good to know that many of the places on your list are close. Thanks again!

Center Moriches...
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3. Re: Owner operated restaurants

Be aware that locations on the Island can be difficult to locate even with GPS. Many are in shopping malls that are beautifully camouflaged by foliage. Hilton Head obviously has some strict codes regarding signage which adds to the beauty but takes away from easy identification.

Connecticut
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361 posts
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4. Re: Owner operated restaurants

You'r not kidding about hard-to-find places. It took 3 visits to HHI before we finally found Sea Shack! But I wouldn't change a thing. The island is gorgeous and I like the foliage. Can't wait until May to come back.

Everywhere
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181 posts
36 reviews
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5. Re: Owner operated restaurants

My two cents...... a lot of the places on HHI, while unique to the island are not real mom and pops. They are corporate as can be but the corporation is based in HHI or Bluffton. A lot of them are owned by transplanted locals with deep pockets who live on HHI but don't do anything for the restaurant except own it. I met a woman who was the owner of a local restaurant and when talking with her found she had a general manager a head chef, manager and assitant manager and basically knew nothing about the restaurant.

I was shocked last year at One Hot Mama's to find that it was a corporate store with the same vibe you get from national chains. It was like Smoky Bones. Salty Dog? As corporate as can be just not a national chain.

That being said there are a LOT of gems where mom and pop are there. My favorite by far is Ray's Cafe. Hardest working people in my industry and hearts of gold.

To me a mom and pop is where the owner(s) is (are) actually working the place. One where they cook, clean, do dishes, clean the toilets, etc. Making infrequent appearances doesnt count, imo. Just because the corporation is based on HHI doesn't make it less corporate. So while my good friend Jeff (who I really need to discuss biz with SOON) is correct that the majority of places are locally based institutions some are still corporations.

I got blasted by some people oin this subject last year but I hold firm..... Mom and Pop means mom and pop work the restaurant. No manager, general manager or executive chef will ever EVER replace the passion and the intensity of a working owner (at least one who cares, that is.)

Everywhere
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6. Re: Owner operated restaurants

To be clear I am not saying these places are bad just a lot of them are not real mom and pops.

Maryland
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95 posts
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7. Re: Owner operated restaurants

Take a look at Vine and Ombra. I know the owner is almost always present at Vine and I believe the chef at Ombra has an ownership interest. While part of the SERG group, one of our favorite places for small plates is Wise Guys. Bella Italia and Il Carpaccio also come to mind. New to the Island is Lucky Rooster.

In Bluffton there is Hogshead Kitchen, Claude and Uli's, Seigler's, and the Cottage. Also very good for Mexican is Mi Tierra (although I do not know if it is mom and pop).

As you can see, there are lots of great places to eat, whether they be small mom and pop or owned by groups, like SERG.

Jamestown, New York
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129 posts
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8. Re: Owner operated restaurants

Flair and JRMom, thanks for your input. Those are exactly the type of places in which I am interested. I would much rather help out a "little guy" than a conglomerate. Any more suggestions?

Daufuskie Island
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9. Re: Owner operated restaurants

Great food places with family staff:

Hugo's - Hugo Arietta is almost always there greeting guests and running the show. He's been on the island for over 25 years. Other family members work there. Honey pecan fried chicken is on the early bird special! Tableside flaming cherries jubilee or bananas foster will amaze your kids.

Kenny B's - Kenny and Laverne are lots of fun. Kenny does the Sunday brunch buffet omelet station dressed in a Louisiana prison jumpsuit. Go here for Po' Boys and fried green tomatoes. And don't miss the beignets!

Ray's Café - John (aka Flair16) already raved about this place. I concur. Now I'm craving a steak and cheese or their awesome blueberry pancakes

Crane's Tavern - Hank Crane is usually there except in the summer when he heads up north to escape the heat. Go here for exceptional steaks, prime rib or the fabulous early bird specials and desserts.

Yummy House - Wei or his wife are either here or at one of their other two restaurants (Okko and Asian Bistro). They seem to work 7 days a week, day and night. Yummy House and Asian Bistro have excellent chinese/sushi buffets and japanese dishes on the menu. Great takeout too. Wei has been know to drive deliveries. Okko has great Thai and Japanese. These are the kind of family place where if business is slow, Wei might come sit down at your table with his own meal and join you.

These should be a good start for your "locals" food exploration...

Enjoy and report back!

Jeff

Maryland
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95 posts
30 reviews
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10. Re: Owner operated restaurants

You asked for a few more suggestions so here are some others you might enjoy:

Jazz Corner, ranked #1 on trip adviser and it is very good. It is an experience, jazz show and dinner. If you like jazz, I highly recommend it, especially if Deas Guyz are playing. We first heard them at a wedding and when we saw they would be at the Jazz Corner when were visiting, we made a reservation. Well worth it IMO.

Charlie's L'etoile Verte, I have not eaten here but it is on my list.

Alfred's is also good. Small restaurant. We sat at the bar and had a view of the chef cooking the last time we ate here because that was the only reservation we could get. I was hesitant but enjoyed the experience enough that I would sit there again even if there were tables available.

Pazzo Italian Cafe