November 2007

Captain Woody's Bar & Grill

Author: Teresa Fitzgibbons

When it comes to food and beverage, locals know a good deal when they see one. Perhaps that’s the reason Captain Woody’s Bar and Grill has been a choice destination for islanders for 25 years. “We have a laid back atmosphere and plenty of good food at a great price,” said Russell Anderson, who owns Captain Woody’s with his wife, Shannon Wright.

With a menu rich in seafood and an ambiance rich in maritime memorabilia, Captain Woody’s is the perfect place to unwind after a day at work or day on the water—boating, sailing, or fishing with friends. You can dine inside or outside, under the sun or stars, at tables overlooking Palmetto Bay Marina where you can smell the sea and feel the wind through the marsh grass. It’s not surprising that sooner or later islanders from all of walks of life—boat captains to the business crowd and families to the late niters—find their way to Captain Woody’s.

“Once we open, the crowd flows in throughout the day; there’s always someone here,” said Russell. “It’s a very local atmosphere.” Captain Woody’s is the sort of place where proud fisherman are welcome to hang up a picture of their prize catch and the amiable wait staff is likely to bring your dog (which must wait outside!) a biscuit and a bowl of water.

The atmosphere is a definite draw, but it’s the food that lures the locals back again and again. While Captain Woody’s specializes in shrimp, clams, and oysters—served fleshly shucked, raw, or steamed—and is known for the signature grouper melt and po’ boy sandwiches, the menu offers a plethora of seafood entrées, sandwiches, and platters as well as plenty of options for the land lovers, including steak and chicken selections as well as a Sunday prime rib special. For the lighter appetite, there are soups and salads and, at lunch, deli selections. Everything from the appetizers (of which there are plenty if you just want something to snack on during Happy Hour) to the entrées are fresh and made to order. A children’s menu and desserts are also available.

“Every day is different; that’s why this is such a fun place to work,” said Russell. “We get to meet a lot of people and it’s like an extended family. It’s like being around your buddies all the time, whether they’re colleagues or customers. This will be our ninth year doing the oyster roasts. It’s a great way to have all the locals come out and get together. There’s music and kids running around.” Some of the proceeds from these Lowcountry winter traditions, which are held the first Saturday of every month from November-March, are donated to the Humane Association. Captain Woody’s also hosts an annual Kingfish Tournament benefiting the Hilton Head Reefs Foundation.

Russell and Wright are also the owners of Woody’s Darn Good Bagels, with locations at South Island Square and Sheridan Park, where they serve freshly baked water bagels and breakfast sandwiches and subs made from pulled turkey and prime rib which are both cooked on site each day. They’re also planning to open a second Captain Woody’s location on Calhoun Street Promenade in Bluffton. “It will be the same menu and atmosphere,” said Russell. “Hopefully when you walk in, it will look and feel just like this.”

Captain Woody’s originally opened in 1982 under the ownership of island shrimper, Captain Woody Collins, whose presence can still be felt inside. Russell and Wright bought the establishment in 1999, and while they’ve expanded the menu and made changes here and there, Captain Woody’s still retains the seafaring character that has made it an island institution for 25 years.

“We didn’t do it ourselves,” said Russell, crediting his loyal employees, many of whom have been with him for years. “We’re blessed to have the staff we do; we wouldn’t be here without them or our local customers that support us all year round.”

Captain Woody’s is open 7 days a week, serving lunch and dinner from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. The bar stays open late and Happy Hour is from 4-7 p.m. Call 785-2400 or visit online at for more information.

Love at First Bite
By:Teresa Fitzgibbons

I remember the first time I walked through the doors of Captain Woody’s. It was October 13, 2002—the date is etched in my mind because I was on the first date with the man who would become my husband two years later. I met James through some mutual friends and he called that Saturday to ask if I wanted to have lunch and go for a walk on the beach. He told me he knew where to get the best lunch on the island—Captain Woody’s, which had been kind of second home for him during his single days. I said yes, and the rest, I guess, is history.

“We get a lot of stories like that,” said owner Russell Anderson. “Once we even had a wedding in here.” Russell has his own Captain Woody’s love story. He recently married Shannon Wright, his business partner of the last eight years.

James and I don’t get down to Captain Woody’s quite as often now that we’ve been married two years and are expecting our first child. But sometimes we’ll get a craving for something only Captain Woody’s can slake—freshly shucked oysters, supreme nachos, a grouper melt, or hamburger—in my opinion, the best on the island—and we’ll know it’s time to take a drive down to Palmetto Bay Marina.

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