Locals come out to celebrate Folly Beach Crab Shack’s Sweet 16 birthday party

By Lorne Chambers | editor

“As I look back over the last sixteen years, I have been blessed with more than I could have ever imagined or dreamed,” says Folly Beach Crab Shack owner Ron Hill. “My lifelong dream was to one day own & run my own restaurant.” That dream became a reality for Hill in the fall of 1999. It all started with a phone call from his partners Dan Doyle and Ryan Condon asking him if he would be interested in running and owning a restaurant on Folly Beach. He says the second question was what would be a good restaurant for Folly. “Our first response was holes in the tables, seafood, and Jimmy Buffet music,” says Hill.

It was apparently a recipe for success as little has changed at the Crab Shack in the last 16 years. And why would it? The Shack was named Best Seafood Spot by Southern Living Magazine in 2012 and remains a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

But before it was an integral part of the Folly Beach dining scene, it was a just a dream and Hill is gracious when speaking about how it all came together.

Hill still remembers when he first went to his wife Paige 16 years ago and told her he wanted to quit his job and use all of their savings to start a restaurant on Folly Beach. At the time they had a 3-year-old son and a 6-month-old son. “She simply looked up from playing with our boys and said ‘I believe in you, go for it.,’” recalls Hill.

He also says that his dad played a big part in making his dream come true. “When I realized I did not have enough money to start the restaurant, I called him right after I talked to Paige and he said ‘no problem,’” says Hill. And his brother James gave Hill the “family discount” when creating the restaurant’s iconic artwork, which honors the Folly Beach of the past.

On Tuesday, Nov. 17 Hill celebrated the Folly Beach Crab Shack’s Sweet 16 birthday by inviting many locals and longtime Crab Shack customers to a party with free beer, a sampling of food and live steel drum music from the Island Duo. While speaking to the crowd who turned out for the 16th anniversary celebration, Hill asked patrons to not thank him for the food and drinks because he wouldn’t be here without them.

In the last 16 years Hill has seen many restaurants come and go off of Center Street. He attributes the Crab Shack’s longevity to a couple things. Using quality and consistent food being one. But most importantly, he attributes the success to a philosophy of treating customers like family. “What I’ve found out in the restaurant industry is that for the most part it’s about the culture you create and how you treat people,” he says. “It’s all the relationships I’ve built with the locals and the visitors.” He says that he has come to know many tourists who return each year to Folly Beach and always drop by the Crab Shack for a meal.

In addition to the people who patronize his restaurant, Hill says he owes much of his success to the staff at the Crab Shack. “Over the years, I have been blessed with the most incredible people,” he says. “There are now way too many to name, but each one has played a very important role in the successes that this restaurant has seen. I could never thank them enough, because without them, I would not have been able to turn a ‘hole in the wall’ place into one that is filled with passion, love and, the very will that everyone that comes through that door should feel like family.”

Hill says he never could have envisioned all the locals that he has had the honor to serve and become friends with over the last decade and a half. “Not only have I been blessed with a wonderful staff to help fulfill my dreams, I have also been blessed to be here on Folly Beach that has the biggest sense of community,” he says. “Folly Beach is not like any community than I’ve ever lived.”

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