"It's been busy since day one, and it's only day three," laughs Yeshia Carter. Carter opened Simply Seafood market and restaurant on Jan. 1 at 3406 Maybank Hwy. — in the old JB's Smokeshack building — the space which sat empty since the barbecue joint closed
in late 2017.
Carter says she and her partner Jason Green, who helms the kitchen, first inquired about the spot this October. Within a week, Carter says the owners of the building gave them the go-ahead, "they said oh, that's a great idea, we want you to have this spot," and they signed their contract. "It all happened very fast."
The low-slung beige building is perfectly suited for fried seafood platters and 1/2 pans full of raw shrimp, salmon, and red snapper on ice. Before 6 p.m. on the second night of business, the line of customers was stretched around the inside of the narrow front room. Islanders clutching tickets sat on a row of chairs or leaned against the wall, helping to direct every newcomer to the front counter — "order up there."
Green's father, John, has been helping them out in the mornings. He says he thinks both Facebook and word of mouth have helped to draw the crowds as early as 11 a.m. for the lunch rush.
"We thought about what can we could that was easy, that didn't take a lot to get started, and that was needed," says Carter of their decision to pursue a seafood market. An attorney by day, Carter says she's taken three weeks off of work to oversee operations. She's currently living and working in Northern Virginia but says once her oldest child graduates from high school this summer, they'll relocate to Charleston. Until then, "I'll be back here every weekend, every holiday."
A no-frills market hawking fresh fruits de mer and fried baskets is hardly a new concept — there's Fishnet Seafood 15 minutes away, close to West Ashley — but Carter knew it would be a good idea, a crowd pleaser. "I just didn't know it would be this good of an idea — they can't get enough."
The menu is what seafood shack dreams are made of: baskets of fried shrimp, clam strips, oysters, scallops, and fish; boils of blue crabs and snow crabs and shrimp with potatoes, corn, and sausage; garlic platters with choice of crab, shrimp, or both; and sides like fried okra, mac and cheese, and onion rings. And the price is right — you can get a blue crab boil for $15.99, all fried baskets are under $10. The chalkboard details daily fresh offerings — salmon, tuna, crabs, clams, shrimp.
Carter says once they get their feet under them — and can keep enough seafood in stock — they're going to solicit as many local purveyors as possible; for now they're using US Foods to source South and North Carolina seafood. Simply Seafood is open daily from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. — yes, you can get your fried scallops at 10 a.m if you so desire. Carter peeks around her shoulder at 9:45 a.m., "there's usually someone pulling up around now."