New Pawleys Island restaurant in Hammock Shops Village celebrates ‘Local’ roots
The name says it all – LOCAL.
Creating a comforting atmosphere that offers unique cuisine from locally sourced ingredients and a variety of local beers and wines is the idea behind a new restaurant in Pawleys Island.
Owners of Local Eat Drink Celebrate in the Hammock Shops Village say their goal is to provide a dining experience that is just a little bit different than other restaurants on South Carolina’s Hammock Coast.
“Local is more than where you’re from, it’s how we make you feel,” said co-owner John Dabrowski, who also serves as general manager, alongside his wife, Peta, who is active in the operation of the restaurant. “We wanted to create a space where people can just be themselves.”
Co-owner Keith Esterbrook, who also serves as executive chef, agreed.
“The original concept for this restaurant was a place where we would want to eat several days a week without becoming repetitive,” Esterbrook said. “We create a lot of different flavors and we feel like we do them all pretty well.”
The restaurant also includes a large banquet area upstairs which is available for rent. With space for entertainment downstairs, Local will feature live music throughout the year.
The menu includes items featuring fresh seafood, meats, vegetables, and other ingredients from local sources, including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options, Dabrowski said. Also, many items are created using local beers like New South, brewed in Myrtle Beach.
“All of our beers are from South Carolina or North Carolina and we have 20 taps,” Dabrowski said. “It is a focus of ours to cook with beer, so most of our courses have beer in them.”
Examples of that are using Java The Nut Brown Ale to braze short ribs and brining chicken in Browbeater Lager. He added that the restaurant also has an extensive wine and cocktail list.
Estabrook, who has worked with Dabrowski at several area restaurants including The Carriage House at Litchfield Plantation in the Pawleys Island area and Bliss in Murrells Inlet, said the overall concept of the food is to create a “unique twist on classic southern and bar food.”
“We are trying to move the culinary history forward in a little different way than anybody else would,” Estabrook said.
He said the most popular menu item so far has been his Maryland-style crab cakes – the operative word being style, as his crab cakes are made with North Carolina crab, sourced from a Murrells Inlet market just 10 minutes from the restaurant.
Having lived and worked in Belaire, Maryland, and Alexandria, Virginia, Estabrook had long been an expert on crab cakes, but for Local’s menu, he creates his specialty with unpasteurized North Carolina blue crab meat from Seven Seas Seafood in Murrells Inlet, broiled and topped with a flavorful remoulade sauce.
“Our crab cake is our most talked about item and it is really a simple recipe,” Estabrook said. “It is mostly crab meat, dressed with a few butter crackers.”
The restaurant has already attracted regular customers, two of whom are Hannah Kloch of Pawleys Island and Nikki Haddock of Murrells Inlet.
“Local has excellent food and drinks, which is why you initially check out a restaurant,” Kloch said.
She said her favorite menu items are the duck confit tacos and the “Jalepeño Business” cocktail. She said she also likes the wide array of local beers on tap and the “cozy taproom feel” of the center bar in the restaurant.
“My favorite changes with every visit, as everything is delicious,” Kloch said. “I like that their menu includes vegan and vegetarian options, as well as meat-centered options; sometimes you just want a big bowl of well-prepared veggies, and there are very few places around that have a lot of healthy options.”
Haddock said she likes that the restaurant is in a beautiful setting at the Hammock Shops Village, shaded by large live oaks draped in Spanish moss.
“It is such a unique location with a quaint little gazebo outside and all of the shops,” she said. “It is a very laid-back atmosphere, and I am looking forward to the live music nights, as well as trivia and Bingo nights.”
Her favorite menu items include a trigger fish special, a pork filet special, and a hot salad mix called the Brewer’s Bowl, which has roasted sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower in a bowl.
“I haven’t tasted everything on the menu yet, but I look forward to trying other things most definitely!” she said. “It is a great place for locals and visitors alike.”
Dabrowski said Local is certainly about making customers happy, but it’s also about taking care of employees and being a positive force in the community. He and Esterbrook display local artwork inside the restaurant and have already sold pieces for a total of more than $2,000.
Dabrowski also plans to pay his staff higher-than-normal wages and has a goal to offer health insurance to all full-time employees after being open for one year.
“We want to take care of our community,” Dabrowski said. “All are welcome to come eat, drink and celebrate with us!”
For more information about Local Eat Drink Celebrate, visit the restaurant’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PawleysLocal.
By Clayton Stairs/tourism manager for the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce