Dreams really do come true.
Take the story of Steve Carb, for instance. He came to Hilton Head Island as a young man with little money and few prospects. By day he took real estate classes. By night he worked as a bus boy and dishwasher at the Old Fort Pub. Today he owns some of the hottest restaurants in town, including Giuseppi’s Pizza and Pasta, One Hot Mama’s, Frankie Bones, the Black Marlin Bayside Grill & Hurricane Bar, The Lodge and WiseGuys.
In February, Carb opened the Skull Creek Boathouse restaurant, which used to be the Boathouse II before the Lowrey Group sold it to Carb and his partners.
A few days before it opened, the Boathouse, which is off Squire Pope Road, was humming with activity. In one corner, the wait staff was being trained amidst the sound of hammers banging and furniture being moved. Painters were putting the final touches on the walls and doors as various contractors worked on the lights and the ceiling.
In the center of all of that activity was a happy Carb, who has dreamt for years of owning a waterfront restaurant.
Carb caught the entrepreneurial bug while working for his older brother, Barry, who owned a liquidation company in their native Pittsburgh. He also worked in a pizza shop in his hometown as a teen. “I knew then that I wanted to own a pizza place,” he said.
In 1982, Carb came to Hilton Head Island. Ultimately he’d make enough money in real estate to open Giuseppi’s in 1984.
Ever the visionary, Carb invented “Throw Dough” (www.throwdough.com) in 1991. The synthetic dough is used by pizza makers to practice their spinning skills and in competitions, including the U.S. Pizza Team Trials that were held in September in Orlando, Fla.
Throughout the years, Carb continued to build his restaurant empire. One of the unique things that he’s done is to make select employees partners in his restaurants.
He purchased the Boathouse in November and fulfilled that dream of opening a waterfront seafood restaurant.
The restaurant reflects its surroundings. As you walk in the mahogany double doors, you immediately get a view of the water. The décor has the feel of a boathouse, with cozy blue and white booths, signs with the names of the charter fishing boats that dock nearby and the work of artists that reflect the local scenery. There’s also an outdoor dining area and bar (the Buoy Bar at Marker 13) and Adirondack chairs placed near the water for folks to sit and enjoy the sunset.
There are some really unique touches inside the Boathouse, like the “Dive Bar,” which features three ways to serve seafood: raw, sushi and carpaccio. Customers can also bring in fish that they’ve caught on the charter fishing boats and have it cooked to their liking.
There’s a “Sportsmen’s Lodge” inside with several big screen TVs, high-top tables, dark wood paneling on the walls and a working fireplace. Carb said the restaurant will also offer live entertainment.
“My goal with the Boathouse is to have multiple components; something for everyone,” he said.
It’s been a busy time for Carb, but an exciting one, too. “I’m always looking for better ways of doing things,” he said. “I love what I do and have such a passion for it. It’s never about the money.
“I love the idea of starting with a blank sheet of paper and seeing a vision come to life. Ideas become living, breathing things.”
So what does he attribute his success to? Carb said it’s all about good food, a comfortable atmosphere and great customer service at all of his restaurants.
And, “it’s about finding good people … who can then accomplish their dreams.”