Boondocks' new owners plan 'destination spot'

emoody@beaufortgazette.comMay 23, 2014 

Jesse Johnson of Fripp Island, part owner of Boondocks Restaurant, stands for a portrait in the newly renovated bar at the restaurant on Friday afternoon on St. Helena Island.

DELAYNA EARLEY — Staff photo Buy Photo

  • In other changes about town

    • Bay St. Gallery, 719 Bay St., has closed. The gallery had been open since 1997 and featured artwork by Southeastern artists, particularly from the Lowcountry, ranging from paintings to handmade sweetgrass baskets.
    • Plans for a Starbucks at 2001 Boundary St., in front of Quality Inn at Town Center, are still being discussed. The city of Beaufort's Zoning Board of Appeals will meet at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday to consider a variance request to install a menu board and drive-thru lane.
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      Beaufort County and the city are splitting the cost of the work, with each contributing $21,772 from S.C. Parks and Recreation Development grants and local matches.

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    Keywords: Beaufort, st Helena, island, boondocks, restaurant, sports bar, miniature golf, putt putt, owner, renovation, bar, seating, local, seafood, fresh, Bay St Gallery,

Some changes have been made or are underway at Boondocks Restaurant and Sports Bar on St. Helena Island, but the biggest addition is yet to come.

A new ownership and management team of Marlene Kiste, Jesse Johnson and Travis Hunter intend to add miniature golf to the 7-acre property on U.S. 21.

"That's kind of my baby," Hunter said. "I'm a huge putt-putt fan. ... I'd do putt-putt right now while we talked if I could."

The Boondocks team is working with Beaufort County planners to get permits for the course at the restaurant at 1760 Sea Island Parkway. It will have at least 18 holes and possibly 36, Hunter said.

Construction could begin by the end of summer, he said.

County planning director Tony Criscitello confirmed that the Design Review Team has been approached about the project.

The restaurant is also getting updated, as well. The new owners took over in early May. The upstairs bar has been renovated, and the exterior is being freshened to add curb appeal for passing motorists.

A concrete slab in the rear of the building will be converted into outdoor, non-smoking dining space, Hunter said.

The owners are new to the area, but Hunter said they've been vacationing on Fripp and Hilton Head islands for about 12 years. About a year ago, he decided to move to the Lowcountry and then learned Boondocks was available.

A former nightclub marketer and promoter, he brought in his mother, Kiste, and Johnson to work with him. Each has restaurant experience, he said.

The goal is for Boondocks to become a destination for locals and tourists, Hunter said, and with that in mind, they've been listening to suggestions from regular customers.

Live music will be played on Saturdays, and nightly specials and Sunday brunch will be added.

Chef Dee Ling has stayed at Boondocks and said the menu will feature fresh local food. "We'll tell you what it is and where it came from," he said.

Hours: 4:30 to 9 p.m. dinner, bar open later, Monday through Sunday.

Information: 843-838-0821,

Follow reporter Erin Moody on Twitter at

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