By Hannah Dockery
Sullivan’s Restaurant, situated on the last block of the Middle Street business district, celebrates their 25th anniversary this year. What’s the secret ingredient to their success? Family.
The brother and sister duo of Sammy Rhodes and Donna Hyatt-Rhodes make quite the team themselves. When Sammy first opened the doors of Sullivan’s in 1988, he invited his sister to join in shortly thereafter. But the family business of Sullivan’s doesn’t stop there. The Rhodes’ father was an entrepreneur in the restaurant industry. Their mother Joyce has become known around the establishment as “Granny Joyce.” At eighty years old, she helps run Sullivan’s three days a week. Not to mention Ricky, Donna’s husband, who keeps things running in the back. It’s all about family, through every fiber of the quaint island eatery.
But the secret ingredient of family continues past the team that runs the establishment. What really tie the restaurant together are the consumers. The families, young and old, that come out for Sunday brunch or dinner after their kids soccer game, year after year… they are the essence of the “family” at Sullivan’s. “We see the same faces. We have seen kids grow up, and those kids bring in their children,” Donna says. “We wouldn’t be here without the support from the community.”
And though Sullivan’s is located a few blocks down from the other popular island hot spots like Home Team and Poe’s, the restaurant has developed its own unique niche, offering a little something different for tourists and locals alike. Their specialty? Seafood. Fried, broiled, steamed, or whichever way you prefer, the chefs at Sullivan’s make it their masterpiece. But things like Shrimp and Fried Grits and Baked Seafood Casserole aren’t the only things on the menu. Steaks, pastas, burgers, and a hearty kids menu help ensure that every taste palate walks away satisfied. “The kids can have chicken tenders while you enjoy a nice glass of wine,” Sammy says. “And we get a lot of word of mouth. Locals tell people that we’re here.”
And with the restaurant turnover rate in Charleston extremely intimidating, it’s clear that the Rhodes family is doing something right. After all, to survive Hugo, unprecedented island growth, and an ever-changing clientele, and continue thriving is quite an accomplishment. “A lot of what we do has to do with the consistency of the staff. We’re considered a team, and people can expect to see the same faces around here,” Sammy says. “We never lay anyone off.”
So next time you find yourself wondering what to do for dinner, walk the extra three blocks and stop in Sullivan’s. Become part of the family. Let Joyce serve you a Bloody Mary or talk over a piece of homemade key lime pie with Donna. Maybe even buy one of the many colorful t-shirts to represent our hometown. “I’m so excited to be 25. And I want to stay here for as long as we can.”
Sullivan’s Restaurant is located at 2019 Middle Street. Open for dinner 7 days a week from 5 until. Lunch served from 11 – 2 on Friday and Saturday. Sunday brunch, from 10:30 – 2 p.m .with a free dessert. For more information, call 883-3222.