Popular Hilton Head bar owner Phil Henry dies

Phil Henry
Phil Henry

Phil Henry, co-owner of the popular Jump & Phil's Bar and Grill on Hilton Head Island, died Thursday, his business partner said.

Henry had been hospitalized and in declining health following a fall about five weeks ago. The news of his passing came as a surprise to many patrons of the business often compared to the homey neighborhood joint in the television show "Cheers."

Henry, 63, was not married and had no immediate family on the island.

He had worked in the food and beverage industry on Hilton Head for 40 years. That includes stints at the Plantation Club, Hofbrauhaus, Treasure Cove, CQ's and Reilley's Grill and Bar before he and John "Jump" Griffin opened Jump & Phil's in Reilley's Plaza near Sea Pines Circle in 1994.

Henry was known for his sense of humor, which shows in the story of Jump & Phil's he wrote for its menu and website:

"Upon graduating from the University of Georgia in the spring of 1975, Jump and Phil decided to pursue their zoology and journalism degrees in a mature and professional manner.

"They moved to the beach.

"Gerald Ford was president, the island had no stoplights, their house on the beach rented for $200 a month, and a six-pack of beer cost $1.35.

"They decided to stay for the long run."

Their establishment is known for its stuffed moose head named Waldo, its fireplace and framed photographs of patrons and celebrities. It is the island's home for Green Bay Packers fans, who sometime sit outside in the cold to watch games.

Griffin said they had come to the island to spend six months before getting real jobs in Atlanta.

"He loved this island," Griffin said. "He looked at it in a very special way. He loved the nature. He loved the beach. He was a good fisherman. In spring, he liked to be the tannest guy on the island."

Among many friends posting on Henry's Facebook page Friday was Chris Wimmer, who wrote: "Truly a sad time for the island! Will miss ya, my Friend!"