where everything old is new again. BY BARRY KAUFMAN • PHOTOS BY ROB KAUFMAN
Sit on the banks of Broad Creek and watch the setting sun cast marsh grasses and glittering tidal waters in dazzling hues of red and gold, and you can almost feel the years slip away. Here, you’re looking at the same view that has entranced islanders for generations. You’re sharing the sunset with the men and women who built Hilton Head Island, who called it home before anyone dared dream of putting a bridge on it. In that moment, you’ll gain a real appreciation for Hilton Head Island’s past. And, there’s no better place to have that moment of spiritual awakening than from a barstool beside the sprawling new outdoor bar at Fishcamp on Broad Creek. Because what good is a spiritual epiphany if you can’t pair it with a glass of pinot noir or a local IPA? But sunsets and a magnificent new bar are just part of the appeal of Fishcamp, the restaurant that is rewriting the rulebook for local cuisine. It’s just that it’s hard to pick one thing about this property that impresses the most. Start with the building itself, and the rich history behind it. Built in 1955, Simmons Fishing Camp was one of the first commercial buildings ever constructed on Hilton Head Island. For perspective, the first bridge wasn’t built until the next year. The basic structure has remained intact since then as a fishing camp, then a nightclub, and now has seen extensive addition as it becomes home to Fishcamp, the latest restaurant concept from Coastal Restaurants and Bars (C.R.A.B.). Inside, the building was taken down to its bare bones and 12
rebuilt, while outside a spacious bar extends outward to the water, flanked by a sprawling patio space for outdoor seating. A bocce ball court just beyond gives way to those Broad Creek views, which tie the whole outdoor space together. The process, which Brendan Reilley jokingly refers to as the “longest remodel in history,” took nearly a year. When it was finally ready to open in early October, Hurricane Matthew decided everyone needed to wait a few more weeks. But what’s a few weeks when you’re talking about a storied structure that has been such a key part in Hilton Head Island history? “The building originally opened as a transportation hub to Hilton Head before the bridge,” explained Managing Partner Brendan Reilley. “It was a true fishing cottage. You’d come in, refuel, get some food in your belly then get back out there and go fishing.” The Simmons of Simmons Fishing Camp was Charlie Simmons Sr., a towering figure in Hilton Head Island history who ran the ferries to and from Hilton Head up to Buckingham Landing and down to Savannah. He was called “Mr. Transportation” by the native Gullah for the fact that anyone needing to go anywhere had to talk to Mr. Simmons first. You’ll see Simmons honored, and rightfully so, all over Hilton Head Island for his contributions to local history. By partnering with the Simmons family, Fishcamp is helping tell his story to even more visitors and locals than before. “Palmer Simmons, Jermaine Robinson and Marcus Simmons
The Best of Dining, Nightlife and Entertainment on Hilton Head Island.