(Warning: you’re going to read the word “local” a lot. Like 10 times).
Dinner at Bubba Gumbo’s isn’t just a “local” thing, it’s a hyper-local, authentic, and unpretentious dining experience. Co-Owners Caitlin and Gordon run Bubba Gumbo’s with sustainability and quality ingredients at the core of everything they do—especially when it comes to the seafood they serve. They select the day’s catch, sourced only from a few locally licensed fisherman that pull up to the marina behind the restaurant, and use only the freshest shrimp, caught within 5 miles of Tybee (hence hyper-local). This clean local seafood is then imaginatively prepared in a restored but rustically charming (and a bit slanted) 1940s-era fishing shack situated over the salt marsh at Lazaretto Marina. Don’t be surprised if the local otter makes an appearance while you’re dining.
The original Bubba Gumbo’s was first opened by Caitlin’s father in 1997, and the locally born and raised Caitlin reopened the restaurant with her brother in 2015. Chef Gordon was born in Canada and grew up in Scotland, where he owned and operated a café. While attending university in North Carolina, he visited Tybee Island on vacation and never quite left, living at the Marina and partnering with Caitlin in 2018. Their newest venture involved the recent opening of a seafood market adjacent to the restaurant, BG’s Seafood Co-op, featuring local fish and shellfish, fresh off the boat.
You won’t find any styrofoam or plastic bags at Bubba Gumbo’s. Leftovers and takeout are in fiberboard and paper, and to-go cups and straws (if you really need one) are made from plants, not petroleum. Their philosophy is simple: protect the marsh, protect the ocean, and responsibly enjoy its bounty. So if you’re in a hurry, or think quantity is more important than quality, or don’t really care about local, sustainable seafood, then you probably want to go somewhere else. This place is a truly local gem, and we’re incredibly thankful that Caitlin and Gordon are committed to keeping it that way, and to doing it with a low-waste, high-quality operating philosophy. So head on in and enjoy tonight’s special at this special place…but don’t forget to thank Caitlin and Gordon!
Sweeping marsh views…incredible sunsets…fishing boats and trailing seagulls coming and going…no straws in the restaurant…wait – what? Yep, you read that correctly, Coco’s Sunset Grille has eliminated all single-use straws as a way of ensuring nothing from the restaurant ends up in the surrounding marsh and Creek. That philosophy is evident in the way Owner Tracy and staff approach managing this special place: leave no trace, absorb the beauty around you, do your part to keep it that way. And have fun!
While you won’t find single-use plastics or styrofoam at Coco’s, you will find fresh, creative, local seafood (OMG – have you had the shrimp cakes?). Situated directly on historic Lazaretto Creek and surrounded by salt marsh, Coco’s takes great care to constantly search for more sustainable practices to protect the pristine nature of its surroundings. This place does it right, from friendly, welcoming staff, to a local shellfish-laden happy-hour at incredibly low prices, to trivia on Tuesday nights. And roof-top dining and drinking, with spectacular views inside and out. Need a to-go water? It’ll be in cardboard. Placing a take out order? It’ll be in compostable fiber boxes and loaded in a reusable bag. So if you haven’t experienced it yet, head on over to the historic Lazaretto Creek and Marina and enjoy another world, at Coco’s Sunset Grille. And be sure to thank them for taking such great care of our little Island and all the creatures that call it home!
Even though Salt Island Fish & Beer has been open only a little more than a year, it has quickly become a favorite among locals and visitors alike. What’s not to love? An extensive and eclectic craft beer menu, good wine choices, and a menu of fresh, creative small plates, entrees, and seasonal fare using local ingredients that requires many visits to fully appreciate. When owners Eric & Emily bought this place last year, they remodeled using existing materials from historic properties, creating a warm and inviting space, complete with outdoor seating. Curious about the newcomer, I had lunch there shortly after they opened, and realized as I finished my last bite of a tasty version of the classic Banh Mi sandwich that there was not a scrap of waste on the table….not even a paper napkin.
Seamlessly, it seems, this dynamic couple has managed to reduce the waste the restaurant produces to near zero. Manager Emily takes home glass bottles for reuse instead of throwing them in the trash; Chef Eric takes and donates aluminum cans; leftover catch of the day is made into the amazing smoked fish dip that I can’t seem to get enough of…the list of small actions to reduce waste goes on and on. You simply won’t find any single-use, throw-away plastics in this place, including styrofoam. Even the take-out cutlery is made from bamboo.
Since coming to Tybee, Eric & Emily have embraced our community, donating catering services for good causes, partnering with non-profits, joining the Post Theater Board, offering buckets & grabbers for patrons to clean the beach across the street.
Great food and drink, a cool place to hang, a low-waste meal, a full-on hug of our Tybee community – these folks are the real deal. So next time you’re looking for someplace new to try, or are returning, slide into Salt Island Fish & Beer and enjoy yourself. And be sure to say thanks to Eric & Emily for getting it just right!
Many a visitor and most locals regularly head to the North Beach section of Tybee Island for its family-friendly atmosphere, iconic lighthouse views, and the chance for a close encounter with frisky dolphins and enormous cargo ships. They’re also there to hang at the colorful North Beach Bar & Grill to enjoy Caribbean-themed food, outdoor music, and a perfect laid-back beach vibe. But did you know that NBB&G was also the first, and for a long time, the only restaurant on Tybee to ditch plastic bags, put leftovers in fiber boxes, switch drinks to plant-based cups, and eliminate plastic straws altogether? Need a bottled water to go? It’s in an aluminum can. Owners Kathryn and George have continually strived to reduce the restaurant’s waste, and to ensure that anything that gets littered will biodegrade rapidly, limiting harm to the marine life that surrounds them. This is a serious commitment: single-use plastics, including styrofoam, are often half the cost of earth-friendly alternatives, representing a significant marginal difference to a small, locally-owned place like NBB&G. So, next time you visit this magical place, thank your servers, and ask to see George or Kathryn and let them know that their leadership on reducing harmful waste is important to you and to the world. And tell your friends too!
When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. — John Muir
We all love this tiny little island, and the salt marsh, beach, and ocean that surrounds us. We still marvel at dolphins, sea turtles, and pelicans, every time we are lucky enough to see them. We get upset at litter on the streets and especially on the beach. We see too much styrofoam, too many straws, too many plastic bags, and countless cigarette butts carelessly dropped on our little patch of heaven. Is it too late? Have we made too much of a mess for ourselves? Short answer is, no. There are heros everywhere on this island, all doing something to reduce their environmental impact and foster a more sustainable future. This blog is all about showcasing these efforts. It’s a place to come back to for a reminder that small actions matter, and the people that care enough to act deserve our support. Thank them when you can!