November 2008

Port Royal Plaza: Good eats, good bargains, good times

Author: Ann DeMart

Hilton Head may be nationally known as a posh resort island, filled with upscale shops and restaurants. But for area residents, especially in these, um, “interesting” economic times, there’s a very practical venue: Port Royal Plaza, a haven for families, retirees and others who are keeping a wary eye on their wallets.

The shopping center, at the junction of Mathews Drive and William Hilton Parkway, probably best known for Sam’s Club, Bi-Lo and Radio Shack, is also home to 20-plus local businesses that offer great food, products and services at value prices. Street Meet, Fiesta Fresh, Reilley’s North End Pub, Shrimp Michael’s, Bella Italia and Plantation Café feature fresh, casual fare to appreciative, hungry customers. Fastframes, Island Travel and Lew’s Menswear have catered almost exclusively to the needs of residents for years. And Goodwill Industries is a frequent stop for bargain shoppers and generous donors alike.

Now, to emphasize the family-friendly environment, a couple of the center’s businessmen have introduced a grand American tradition to Port Royal Plaza—a monthly Block Party—held the last Saturday of every month. The brainchild of Carey Basciano of Street Meet and Jamie Booth, general manager of Reilley’s, the Block Party features good, inexpensive food and the luxury of letting the kids run around to their hearts’ content. “When Jamie and I came up with the block party idea, we were focusing on making things kid friendly. You can sit at an outdoor table, have a pitcher of soda or beer, eat hot dogs, peel n’ eat shrimp or tacos and listen to some live music,” he said. The block parties also give customers a chance to relax and take notice of the other businesses in the shopping center.

Carey Basciano, who co-owns Street Meet American Take-out and Tavern with his sister Nicole, found his passion early. He’s been working in restaurants all his life. “This has always been what I wanted to do,” he said. He and his sister Nicole Basciano, who is president of the Port Royal Plaza Association, have owned the restaurant for three years. A tavern in the old tradition, Street Meet, which features a good selection of beer, both bottled and on-tap, and Hoffman hot dogs and sausages from Syracuse, New York, is a comfortable neighborhood spot to grab a sandwich and a drink in an easy-going atmosphere.

Reilley’s North End Pub, which also has south-end branches, has been a popular island restaurant for years. Terrific burgers, tasty salads, diverse entrées and a lovely bar area make it a favorite destination for those who want a varied menu. Fiesta Fresh is everything its name implies. Freshly prepared tacos, enchiladas, burritos and other Mexican selections are as delicious as they are inexpensive. Shrimp Michael’s, which features fine seafood in a fun, no-stress environment, is a perfect addition to the restaurants at the plaza. People say, “the food is black tie and white linen, but the decorating is pure beach!” Shrimp Michael’s also caters for any size party.

At Fastframes, owner and artist David Randall, custom-frames the art and mementoes of island residents. Although he and his wife moved to the area only five years ago, he’s been in the framing business for nearly 40 years. In addition to offering the island’s largest selection of moldings (more than 3,000!), he also features works from Mill Pond Press and Greenwich Workshop. His own artwork is also for sale. It is filled with beautiful light and bright, bold colors.

If you’re longing for a cruise or tour, Island Travel is the way to go. Carlo Hilliard and Jim Buckley have been arranging journeys for Lowcountry residents to Europe, South America, the Caribbean, and Asia for nearly 13 years. And Lew’s International Menswear has been a Port Royal Plaza mainstay even longer.

Port Royal Plaza is also easier to get in and out of since the road construction and new traffic circle is finally completed. So, take advantage of this convenient, value-packed shopping center. This is a fine place to shop for holidays or every day. The parking is ample, the services diverse, the folks helpful and friendly. And remember to circle the last Saturday of every month on your calendar. The block parties are fun entertainment for family and friends, rain or shine from 4-8 p.m.

Port Royal Plaza is located at 95 Mathews Drive on Hilton Head, Island. For more information, call (843)681-2288.

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