This spot in the Belleville community on the Sapelo River has been a seafood destination at least since the 1940s, when Rosco’s Place served up fresh local fare to scores of locals. Later, the Barnett family operated the Sandpiper Inn here until it was struck by lightning and burned in the 1960s. Mike Phillips opened Pelican Point here in 1986 and in 2015 his son Charlie reinvented the restaurant as The Fish Dock at Pelican Point. While some bemoan the loss of the legendary buffet, new patrons are warming up to the fresher seafood now being offered. And the fresh clams come from Charlie’s Sapelo Sea Farms.
Tag Archives: Restaurants of Coastal Georgia
Since first opening in 1956, the Buccaneer Club was a venerable institution on the coast, especially among locals. Originally a members-only establishment, it was known for its huge platters, brimming with all variety of local and exotic seafood. I photographed it in 2011, not long after a complete remodel or rebuild. According to recent reviews on sites like Trip Advisor and Expedia, the restaurant, located on the Sapelo River near the Belleville community, closed earlier this year.
The history of the so-called Pirate’s House is as colorful as the history of Savannah itself, and like many landmarks in the city, its origins and history are often the subject of debate. I’ll open the proverbial can of worms here and note that though it often appears on superlative lists as the “oldest building in Georgia”, this claim is spurious at best. The Herb House, built in 1734 in General Oglethorpe’s Trustee’s Garden, has been absorbed into the structure you see today. Because its historic integrity has been almost completely lost by centuries of remodeling and expansion, though, the ‘oldest in Georgia’ qualifier is dubious to many, particularly architectural historians. I concur completely. This is not an attack on the present institution housed here but rather an attempt to consolidate disparate histories. Scores of websites, especially ‘ghost’-related sites, are driven by myth and therefore confusing to say the least.
The Pirate’s House Restaurant has been a leading tourist attraction in Savannah for decades, and though their website claims that it was built in 1753, the city’s own tourism website dates it to circa 1794. It’s clear that it had its origins as a tavern, frequented by sailors for its liberal atmosphere and proximity to the Savannah River. Tunnels were actually dug beneath the property in its early days with the purpose of smuggling rum and kidnapped sailors to the riverfront. The site gained literary immortality in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, as the scene of Captain Flint’s death. The character of Long John Silver noted that he was with Captain Flint when he died in Savannah. Of course this is a fiction, based loosely on stories a young Stevenson heard as a guest here in the early 19th century. The stories are harmless as long as they’re not posited as fact. And they are, often.
The house was purchased by the Savannah Gas Company in 1948 and subsequently restored and expanded to accommodate its present-day purpose.
Savannah Historic District, National Historic Landmark
I was surprised to learn yesterday that the Rah Bar is closing. Though not a landmark in the traditional sense, it’s become a bit of a local and tourist favorite for its welcoming, laid-back vibe. It’s not really a dive, but compared to many of the fancier establishments on the coast, it almost qualifies for that status. I’m saying that’s a good thing. Apparently, the restaurant with which the Rah Bar is associated, Latitude 31, is to be rebuilt. Let’s hope the atmosphere in the “new version” remains as cool as it was at the Rah Bar.
First opened at a nearby location in 1940, and once known as the Shrimp Boat Restaurant, Archie’s was a longtime Darien landmark and a favorite stop for travelers along the busy Coastal Highway (US 17).
As traffic moved off 17 and onto nearby I-95, business slowed and the restaurant was closed by 2006. The structure seen here opened circa 1975 and was demolished in 2015.
From 1975-2004, Charlie Teeple’s in Thunderbolt was one of Savannah’s favorite seafood restaurants. Steamed crabs and oysters were among their most popular offerings. This building wasn’t the restaurant, which was located on the nearby Wilmington River, but rather Charlie’s retail store, where fresh boiled crabs remained in demand. I’m not sure when it closed, but it’s been abandoned for quite some time.
I panicked this morning when I heard a rumor that Hazel’s had been demolished, but concerned friends on St. Simons quickly checked and let me know it wasn’t true. To many, this place is as much a symbol of the island’s history as the lighthouse or Fort Frederica. Located in the nearly forgotten African-American community of South End, Hazel’s was owned by Hazel and Thomas Floyd. Thomas, a veteran of World War II, settled here with his wife shortly after World War II and soon thereafter they started this business, which would be a staple of St. Simons life until it closed in 1978. (Their house is to the right in the photograph). With new homes and condos dotting the island today, it’s a nice step back to a time when St. Simons, like all of the Georgia coast, was anchored by small but thriving communities who looked to family and friends as well as the rich coastal waters surrounding them for sustenance and survival. Hazel was known to go crabbing in season and bring back her catch for the night’s special of deviled crab. I’m sure they were legendary dishes in their time. Melissa Lee has an excellent tribute to this St. Simons icon here: