Food and a view that can’t be beat: Belle Isle Marina Bar & Grill by Marla Stroupe

May 13th, 2013

When you visit Belle Isle Marina Bar & Grill you’ve found a hidden treasure on Winyah Bay. Stop by this restaurant by water (slips in Belle Isle Marina are available for dining guests) or by driving through the cozy Belle Isle Yacht Club community.

Guests can dine inside or on the spacious covered deck with views of the 80-slip marina and neighboring Marina Village luxury condominiums.

Laura McClellan, who opened Belle Isle Marina Bar & Grill in 2009, knows the restaurant business. Before coming to Belle Isle at the request of the Belle Isle Yacht Club Board of Stewards, she operated the Crab Pot Restaurant, a Lowcountry favorite in nearby McClellanville, for 22 years. Today, she is continuing her commitment to serving the freshest local seafood available to Belle Isle Marina visitors and area residents.

Most of Laura’s seafood comes off of the docks in McClellanville, ensuring quality and freshness. Weekly specials feature shrimp, crab, oysters and fish as well as Italian and Mexican dishes. Signature items like She Crab soup, shrimp and grits and whole flounder are regulars on the menu. Laura also offers lighter fare like shrimp and chicken salads, seafood chowders and a variety of sandwiches including burgers, clubs, Reubens and cheesesteaks. Beer and wine are available.

“We love serving good food and enjoy meeting people – especially those who have never experienced Lowcountry cuisine,” says Laura.

If you’re traveling on Winyah Bay by boat or on Highway 17 just south of Georgetown, enjoy a delicious meal at Belle Isle Bar & Grill. The food is tasty and the setting is unsurpassed.

River City Bar & Grill Lake Norman’s Back Porch

December 10th, 2010

River City Bar and Grill on Lake Norman correctly describes itself as a lively family restaurant with a laid-back vibe.

Jay and Angela Helson have owned the adjacent marina for the past eight years. It features dry storage for 420 boats, along with gas, repairs, cleaning and sales.

The Helsons took over ownership of the restaurant in April 2009. It’s easily accessible by boat.

“We’re open all year long,” Helson says. “It’s kinda like the back porch on the lake.”

The restaurant features a casual menu of appetizers, salads, burgers, sandwiches, wraps, quesadillas and fish baskets but it’s known around the lake for its jumbo chicken wings in mild, hot, teriyaki, barbecue and creeper flavors. The Philly Lake Sub is also a big hit, as are the homemade potato chips.

As an added treat, Teresa “Butch” Hockett cooks breakfast on the weekends beginning at 7 a.m. The menu includes country ham, bacon, sausage, eggs, grits, hash browns and biscuits.

“She just puts it on,” Helson says.

A graduate of Johnson & Wales University, Ryan Phillips serves as executive chef, with Sissy Flynn as manager.

Helson buys local, with breakfast meat from a supplier in Mooresville, fish from a local hatchery and fresh local produce, too.

“Everything we make is homemade,” Helson says. “It’s real good and real fresh.”

Local music is offered every weekend and there’s never a cover charge.

“We try to entertain folks without them having to drive to Charlotte,” Helson says.

Karaoke Night is every Wednesday, with Shag Night on Thursday. There are daily and nightly drink specials. River City stocks some three dozen beers and has all ABC permits.

River City can host small parties and events as well.

“We’ve done really well here,” Helson says. “It’s just a matter of keeping it going. It’s laid back and it’s cool.”

River City mainly draws a local crowd, including various groups that follow the bands who play there.

Before the Helsons took over, the restaurant had closed between Labor Day and Memorial Day. That’s no longer the case, Helson says. “We’re open and available. Come see us.”

For more information about River City Bar and Grill, visit or call 704-660-9797.

Big Tuna: The Old Fish House

November 3rd, 2010

by Susan Shinn – Special Correspondent

Looking for a fun, casual restaurant where the locals go?

In Georgetown, S.C., that’s The Old Fish House, aka Big Tuna, located at 807 Front St. The restaurant is a part of Georgetown’s historic and scenic waterfront area.

“We do have some dock space available,” says Angie Watkins, who owns the restaurant with husband Bucky. Boats can also tie up as well.

The restaurant is itself an historic building. You’ll see lots of old wood and salvaged materials.
“It has a very rustic feel,” Watkins says.

History is the name of the game in this port town, the intersection of five rivers, the third oldest city in South Carolina after Charleston and Beaufort.

The couple started the restaurant nine years ago. Bucky Watkins had been in the restaurant business previously.

Watkins is proud of the fact that everything is homemade, from scratch, and the prices are reasonable.

The restaurant serves appetizers, sandwiches, salads and entrees, priced from $5 to $19.
“We have a huge local following,” Watkins notes. “Our business is mainly local business.”
She adds, “We also get a lot of boat traffic, including transient fall boaters.”

Watkins is looking forward to the Wooden Boat Show on Oct. 16, which takes place on Front Street.
“It’s a very family oriented, big, fun day,” she says.

The restaurant is one of the event’s many sponsors.

Visitors to the boat show will likely want to stop in at Big Tuna for a meal. The menu features calamari, clams, shrimp cocktail, crab cocktail, oyster cocktail, seared tuna and the soup of the day under appetizers.

There are cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, Italian sausage sandwiches, fried fish sandwiches and steak sandwiches.

Fried shrimp, fried oysters, crab legs, fried scallops, a seafood platter and ribeye steak round out the entree menu.

Watkins says that the most popular entree is the whole fried flounder.

Folks love the sides of black beans and rice – her husband’s own recipe – and slaw, also homemade.
“We don’t buy any packaged anything,” Watkins says. “We buy all the fresh fish we can get our hands on.”

The crab cake special is also a bit hit with customers.

Going into the fall, the Big Tuna will feature local roasted oysters.

For a small restaurant, the Big Tuna boasts a full bar which includes a nice wine list, a full selection of ice-cold beers and top-shelf alcohol, Watkins says.