Staying power in the restaurant business on Hilton Head Island requires a smorgasbord of ingredients. Tenacity and consistency probably top the list, along with great customer service, high quality food, a loyal staff, a friendly vibe, a refreshing and inviting environment, and amenities for enjoying two hours or three with friends and family on game day or any day. Add a daily happy hour with a bar menu, live music, Sunday brunch and catering… and, fresh from the smoker, you have The Smokehouse at 34 Palmetto Bay Road.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary of serving locals and tourists the best baby-back ribs and chicken wings this side of the ocean, The Smokehouse began at the corner of Coligny Circle across from the beach in 1999. Surrounded by the public parking lot, the town bought the property early in the early 2000s and owner Jerry Leonard was on notice for years that he eventually would have to move.
So he bought the building and property that was then called Sticky Fingers in 2009 on Palmetto Bay Road, after two previous tenants failed to establish a foothold at that location.
He opened his relocated Smokehouse in 2010 after a major renovation and it’s been successful ever since. Staying power, indeed. “My goal is to make my customers happy,” said Leonard, who has been an islander for 30 years. “I like cold beer, good ribs, good TVs, nice music, and a clean environment.”
The restaurant’s longevity is rare on the island. But good things happen to a restaurant when it is good, really good. “We’ve been strong in the community ever since we’ve been here,” he said.