It has been a busy month of comings and goings in the Bluffton and Hilton Head Island business scene. While there are plenty of new businesses to celebrate, we begin with news of the end of a chapter for one Bluffton pioneer.
Corks leaving old town: There are big changes afoot in the Promenade, as the booming downtown of Old Town is losing its oldest tenant. Corks Wine Bar, the first tenant in the Promenade, is closing its doors. The business started by Josh Luman and Gabby Ferrell was most recently owned by New Jersey transplant couple Neil and Lorraine Ritter.
The couple had issues with noise complaints from the landlord at the venue around their late-night hours over the past two years and have decided to relocate their business outside of Old Town. It is a blow to the local music scene, as we have heard from numerous musicians frustrated to lose such a huge booster. Fear not, I’m told.
The Ritters hope to have a big announcement on a new nearby location in the next couple weeks, but for now, expect a sendoff event in the first couple weeks of July.
We have heard the two-unit parcel at 14 Promenade St. has a sale pending but have not heard yet about the new owners or what kind of business will take over the space. Next door, Signore’s Coastal Art is also leaving their location in the coming weeks, with “For Lease” signs in the window. No word on the new tenant there.
Island West golf course re-opens: It has been in the works for many, many months since the residents of Island West decided to take ownership of the golf course. They spent months getting the course back in to playing shape and working on renovations to the clubhouse and the course. Now, more than two years after the course closed, Island West is open again. Local rates are $55 plus tax for 18 holes and $37.50 for nine holes. Call 843-689-6660 to reserve tee times.
New name, same chef at south end eatery: Hugo Lee was the executive chef at Trattoria Divina before the 33 Office Park Road restaurant closed in January 2020. Lee is so passionate about providing affordable Italian options on the island that he has decided to reopen the eatery. It will have a new name, Piatti, but will offer many of the same dishes that Lee became beloved for at the former eatery. Lee is hoping for an early June opening, as the burgeoning South End Italian scene gets yet another strong contender for your appetite.
Woof Gang opens pop shop: It’s something we heard about months ago, but a new ice cream shop in the stand attached to Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming Palmetto is now a reality. The former home of Crabby’s Corner is being transformed into what the Coleys are calling the Pop Shop – at least until they can settle on a permanent name. The spot will offer up pre-packaged treats from Palmetto Pops to Leopold’s Ice Cream cups and Divide Ice Cream cookie sammies, as well as a Swell Doggie Gelato for your pups. Check the Woof Gang Facebook page for hours. A portion of the proceeds from the shop will be donated to area shelters and rescues.
• Mr. Pest Control, Bluffton, 843-295-4555, bugsrbad.com: Joe Duncan has decided to continue a long-time family business in the Lowcountry. His grandpa started the initial business in Indiana and Kentucky decades ago and after Duncan went his own way and explored different careers for the past 13 years, he has decided to start a branch of the business in South Carolina. He and his crew offer general pest control, large property management, pre- and post-construction termite treatments, commercial and residential bedbug treatment and mosquito control for all size properties.
• Island Restaurant Equipment, 105 Mathews Drive, Hilton Head Island, 843-802-0039: Rob Deleo had a respected business in New York, but COVID made him and his family realize they needed to refocus on sunshine and family happiness along with business. So Deleo has reopened his restaurant supply company in the Lowcountry. His storefront is open to the public for any houseware needs, and he has already made relationships with a number of local eateries.
• Crave Station, 85 Pope Avenue, Hilton Head Island, 843-715-3083, cravestationhhi.com: Chris Morford initially intended to open a pizzeria, but saw the location and fell in love with the location and kept expanding the concept into a food hall. The menu is diverse, with pizza, burgers, Asian, sushi, café and breakfast offerings. The building is set up like a food court, with different family members manning each station. Four different concepts, one location. The pizza kitchen is definitely the calling card, with a homemade dough and sauce, but the teriyaki bowls (with a homemade recipe) and the bacon double cheeseburger have been early favorites. It’s the perfect spot for families that can’t decide on one thing to eat. Now, there’s something for everyone, right near the beach.
• Ocean Motorworks, 29 Otter Hole Road, No. 18, Hilton Head Island, 843-422-6434, oceanmotorworks.com: Dylan DeBellis formerly used this business to service his watercrafts. So when he and a fellow watercraft enthusiast friend saw the company was going under, they decided to take over the company and relaunch it themselves. The company focuses on servicing JetSkis and is owned by two local families who are excited to keep the brand alive for a new generation of families here for water fun.
• Kimmy’s Cookies, Bluffton, 812-236-3572: Kim McCloskey started her sugar cookie business at the beginning of 2022. She can make custom designs for any occasion with her signature buttercream frosting and has been featured regularly at the Hampton Lake Makers Market. Whether celebrating graduation or a friend coming to visit, McCloskey has the design to meet your needs.
• The Mercantile Store, Bluffton, themercantilestoresc.com: Maddy Burke has always had a passion for fashion and helping women find clothing they feel good in. She has worked in retail since she was a teen and was an assistant buyer at a prominent Florida surf shop before she decided it was time to build something of her own. The proud mom of two launched the online fashion store that focuses on dresses, activewear and jewelry. Burke has been a regular vendor at the Lowcountry Made markets and most recently at Mayfest. She looks forward to meeting more women in person to help them find their fashion swagger.
• The Door’s Open Therapy, 15 Sams Point Road, Suite 105, Beaufort, 843-441-6337: While a little outside our typical reach, mental health services are so sparse here that anything within driving distance is worth highlighting. Angela Wright has started mental health counseling for ages 12 and up (with younger kids accepted on a case-by-case basis). Wright specializes in LGBTQ+ mental health issues but is experienced in treating anxiety, depression, ADHD and most other mental health diagnoses.
• A Sweeter Seat, asweeterseat.com: Owners and designers Leslie Bohm, Jenny Ratliff and Gioia DiBartolomeo just celebrated a year in business pursuing a solution to a common coastal issue: Chair sweat. They created a small handmade towel and mat that are perfect to cover leather and metal seats to prevent that … well, swampy feeling. A Sweeter Seat has been a fixture at market pop-ups and is now being featured on Barbara Corcoran’s podcast featuring successful women entrepreneurs.
• Headlight Cleanup, 2230 Blakers Blvd., Bluffton, headlightcleanup.com: Air Force veteran Dennis Sambroak decided to launch his business after buying a used car for his daughter and seeing that the headlights were extremely cloudy. After months of trying to find cleaners at local auto stores, he decided to concoct his own solution. After much trial and error, he developed a solution that has been a hit with Lowcountry drivers. A year into his business, Sambroak is thriving and always looking for new drivers to shock when they see how dirty their lights were and how clean they can be.
Tim Wood is a veteran journalist based in Bluffton. Contact him at email@example.com.