"Scotts Fish Market has stood the test of time thanks
to great food and service."
By Teresa Fitzgibbons, Hilton Head Monthly
Magazine, September 2006
What is it that draws you back to a restaurant?
Flavorful food? Skilled service? Appealing atmosphere? Ask
most dining patrons and it’s all of the above, especially
when it’s done on a consistent basis. As the loyal clientele
can attest, Scott’s Fish Market in Shelter Cove is a place
you’ll want to sample again and again. Each time you visit,
you’ll experience the same outstanding service and savory
food that brought you back to begin with. “Our goal is to
make sure that everybody who walks out of here wants to come
back,” said owner Scott Allen. “That’s the key. If you deal
with somebody once, you don’t stay in business very long.”
Patrons have been returning for nearly 18 years. Originally
established as Scott’s Harbourside in 1989, the restaurant
changed direction in 1993, and Scott’s Fish Market was born.
“We wanted to create a real fresh seafood concept that wasn’t
necessarily a seafood house,” said Allen. “We tried things
like charbroiling and grilling and preparing the fish in such
a way that let the natural flavors of the fish come though.”
While this was becoming popular in other areas, at the time
most local seafood restaurants were offering more traditional
fare: either fried seafood or a more upscale and saucy preparation.
“By taking a fresh approach to seafood and keeping the atmosphere
more causal, we built up a whole new clientele.”
Allen knows just how to go about building a loyal customer
base. The North Carolina native put himself through college
at Appalachian State University by working in food and beverage.
After graduating, Allen chanced upon Hilton Head while en
route to teach art in Key West, and a summer trip turned a
little more permanent. He worked as everything from a room
service waiter to bartender to dining room captain in fine
dining establishments like the Hyatt, CQ’s and Fulvios. By
1983, he was the maitre d’ at Harbour Master’s and within
a year and a half, he was the general manager, a position
he held until 2002.
“At Scott’s Fish Market, our forte is the whole segment of
seafood we offer,” said Allen. “If you look at the menu, it’s
all done in different fashions – sautéed, fried, broiled,
grilled, charbroiled and baked. There’s a bit of everything.”
Entrees are complemented with fresh vegetables, salads, and
homemade bread. A wide array of appetizers and tempting desserts
are also on the menu. Scott’s is the home of Hurricane Harry’s
Wharf Bar, where all are welcome to enjoy tropical drinks
and live music overlooking the harbor. Guests can dine inside
amid the funky fish that dominate the décor or outside under
the stars. “We have the largest outside seating area on the
island,” said Allen.
If seafood doesn’t tempt your palette, there are plenty of
other options that will. There’s pasta from scratch, entrée
salads for the health conscious and chicken and beef selections
including the locals’ favorite: a charbroiled fillet mignon
in a spicy marinade, one of many selections created by head
chef Anthony Scott.
“He’s one of the best workers in the world and integral to
our success,” Allen said of his chef. Anthony began working
for Allen as a 13-year old dishwasher at Harbourmaster’s,
where he later trained under the head chef. He’s been at Scott’s
since the doors opened.
Anthony isn’t the only employee with a history of quality
service. Manager and bartender Tony Ferre met Allen as a busboy
at Harbourmaster’s in 1984. “Tony works harder and longer
than anyone else on the island,” Allen said of the affable
bartender who makes every guest instantly feel like an old
friend. “Without him, we wouldn’t be open – he’s the go-to
guy for almost everything.”
Several other staffers have more than fifteen years of service
at the restaurant. While Allen credits their longevity and
loyalty to the consistency of product keeping them financially
sound, the employees are quicker to credit Allen and the atmosphere
he has created.
“I can rely on them – everyone does everything and is always
ready to assist. The concept of Scott’s Fish Market will remain
in place even when I’m not around,” said Allen.“We’re casual
in dress and feeling, but serious about food preparation and
the consistency that has been our hallmark over time,” said
It’s a formula that works. Scott’s Fish Market has stood the
test of time and continues to attract a loyal following. “We
rarely see someone just once. Even if they’re a tourist only
in town for the week, we’ll usually see them twice,” said
Scott’s Fish Market is open for dinner from 4:30.