Craig Reaves has worked shrimpboats and served seafood sincehe was nine years old, at his parents'place in Holden Beach, NC.His dad, a shrimper since the 60s,started Reaves Brothers Seafood in1970, then a decade later, openedthe original Reaves Fish Camp restaurant.
Thirty years later, Craig and hiswife have brought Reaves FishCamp to Beaufort.
The couple have been runningtheir wholesale seafood business,CJ's Seafood, since 1993, and havetwo Beaufort markets - CJ SeafoodExpress and Sea Eagle Market.
Festival goers may have triedCraig's seafood at the Beaufort orYemassee Shrimp Festivals, Bluff-ton's Arts and Seafood Festival, orthe Soft Shell Crab Festival. "Doingcatering and festivals kind ofgave us the itch to get back into the restaurantbusiness," Craig said of the Fish Camp, whichopened in August.
The Salem Road space, formerly Duke'sBBQ, is bright, clean, and casual, its wallsdecorated with nets and photos of generationsof the Reaves clan on the water. Craig saidpatrons really like the atmosphere. "You kind ofget a feel for family," he said, then pointed outa wall devoted to Water Festival memories.
His parents, kids and brother and familyfriends all help run the place. One of thefriendly servers is his little brother's girlfriend.
Lunch baskets are a reasonable $6.95 andinclude a seafood or meat entrÃ©e and choiceof a side.
In proud support of the local economy, all ofthe seafood is fished from local waters, Craigemphasized, "not an institutional, pre-breadedproduct." They offer shrimp and grits everynight on the buffet and shrimp or crab friedrice, as well as several types of seafood thatis lightly breaded and fried to enhance theflavors, not mask them. Other buffet selectionsmay include barbequed mullet, bay scallops,pan crusted garlic shrimp and seafood gumbo.
In addition, the buffet features a number ofSouthern sides and salads - again made withfresh and often local ingredients - and healthyalternatives like steamed or baked fish andblackened tuna. Indulge in desserts, such asscrumptious banana pudding and Watergatesalad.
The fish changes daily to offer what's fresh- "It's literally from our boats (and others')to your table," Craig said - so right now, therestaurant is offering steamed and fried bluecrabs, and at their customers' urging, will starthaving regular in-house oyster roasts startingtonight.