Rockfish revs up for football seasons

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OWNING A RESTAURANT AS A FAMILY GIVES NEW MEANING TO THE WORDS “FAMILY MEETING,” BUT THE WHITEHEADS HAVE A SPECIAL DYNAMIC THAT MAKES ALL WORK.

“Our motto is ‘friends, family and fun’ because we want people to know that we are all about families, and we welcome them.” said Rocky Whitehead, whose family opened Bomboras Grille in 2011. The Hilton Head Island restaurant was renamed Rockfish Seafood & Steak at Bomboras this spring.

The name  might have changed, but one thing never will: the life-size stuffed bengal tigers, representing the family’s favorite football team. Their love of the Cincinnati Bengals helped the restaurant win the title of “Best Sports Bar on the Island” in Hilton Head Monthly’s Reader’s Choice Awards.

“With so many area venues offering fans a place to watch the game, this award was an honor,” said Rocky’s daughter and general manager Stacey Whitehead. “We have a huge Cincinnati Bengals following. Former Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson comes in and watches the game with us. We have lots of Cincinnati food specials, including Montgomery Inn Ribs and Cincinnati chili three-way, four-way and five-way. Cincinnati Cheese Coneys, our version of the Big Boy Burger and lots more. We do a Bengals raffle during the game that benefits the Ken Anderson Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps to build communities for adults living with autism and developmental disorders. This year, we are renting a bus and taking a road trip to Jacksonville for the Jaguars vs. Bengals game. We are going to stay the night there and tailgate before the game, where my dad and Ken will be grilling. Who dey! For college football fans, we watch the Ohio State games on Saturdays.”

To support local breweries, Rockfish serves South Carolina brews — like O’Neal’s Special Oatmeal Oyster Stout from Benford Brewing in Lancaster and White Thai from Westbrook Brewing Co. in Mount Pleasant — alongside its menu of seafood, steaks and Lowcountry favorites.

“Our happy hour bar menu offers peel-and-eat shrimp, raw oysters and snow crab legs,” Whitehead said. “Our bar is a very entertaining place to spend a few hours at happy hour. Our all-you-can-eat crab legs night on Tuesday nights is very popular. We also have the Art Cafe upstairs, where parents can sign up for Kids Night Out on Mondays through Thursdays and dine downstairs while the kids paint pottery upstairs.”

Tableside USB ports and cellphone charging stations help tech-obsessed diners stay connected for up-to-the-minute tweets about the big game, while the parking lot features two spots dedicated to charging Tesla electric cars. The younger generation helps keep Rockfish firmly planted in the 21st century, though it was Rocky who reached out to Tesla to coordinate the charging stations. He loves his Tesla — but he loves his Bengals more.