Long-time bike rental magnates Dondi and Theresa Wall are testing out the waters at South End Seafood.
Story by Barry Kaufman + Photography by Lisa Staff
First coined by Norman Vincent Peale, “Find a need, fill a need” has long been a mantra for entrepreneurs. When it comes to visitors to Hilton Head Island, few have been finding a need and filling a need for as long, or as successfully, as Dondi Wall.
“My family has been in the taxi business and I’ve been in the bike rental business since the ‘80s,” said Wall. “And I thought, ‘I’m gonna start selling shrimp.’”
The long-time cycling magnate and his wife, Theresa, recently opened South End Seafood on Executive Park Road, offering not only fresh, local seafood but bait and tackle. Opening a shop might seem like a hard left turn for someone who had been in the hospitality and tourism business, but when you follow Wall’s train of thought, it suddenly makes sense.
“There’s not really one of these on the south end,” he said. “We want to be here for the locals and tourists.”
The mission of South End Seafood is essentially going to be three-fold. First off, it will be the south end’s go-to for fresh, local seafood.
“I’m concentrating on local. And if mine’s not local, I’m going to tell you upfront. Everything comes in seasons,” he said. While he may lean on other shores for certain items, the emphasis here will be on the South Carolina coast and nearby waterways. “If we’re not going to have a certain thing available, I will try and get it from the Gulf or North America coasts.”
For the most part, Lowcountry waters will provide the source for South End Seafood’s wares. For Wall, the former co-captain of the shrimp trawler, “Smells Like Shrimp,” it’s the only way to go. “I’m one of those guys where I’m local and I want to buy local. That’s just the way it is,” he said.
Adding to the fresh seafood will be a selection of local produce and trimmings. Drawing from area farms, Wall says the shop will offer peaches, tomatoes, watermelon, onions and more. “We’re not going to have a million different things, but the most common items you’ll need,” he said. “And again, if it’s not local, I’ll tell you it’s not local.”
You’ll also find homemade items like cocktail and tartar sauces for making a meal out of the catch of the day. Essentially, all you have to do is grab what you need and finish the job. “We’ll tell you the best way to prepare it, but we’re not going to prepare it,” said Wall.
The final component of South End Seafood is what truly sets it apart from other fish markets on the island, and one that speaks to Wall’s expertise at delivering what tourists need. Along with fresh seafood from up and down the coast, shoppers will find a full array of bait and tackle for reeling in their own catch, as well as supplies for crabbing.
Located just off the bike path that fronts Pope Avenue, South End Seafood represents the perfect spot for cyclists to ride up with rod and reel in tow and pick up the gear they need to land that prize trophy catch. And, if it winds up being the one that got away, they can always pedal back and pick up someone else’s catch of the day. LL
If you purchase a few pounds of fresh shrimp, consider this family recipe passed down from Dondi’s mother. “Everyone loves it and it is much requested,” Theresa said.
South End Seafood – Marinated shrimp
2 quarts water in 3-quart pot
1 tablespoon seasoned salt (Lawry’s)
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 pounds peeled and deveined, small to medium shrimp
3 medium onions, sliced in thin rings
1 lemon, sliced in rounds (Remove seeds, cut slices in half)
Directions  Bring water and seasonings to boil. Add shrimp.  Bring back to boil, turn off heat and cover for 3 minutes.  Drain shrimp in colander. Add hot shrimp to onions in large bowl. Top bowl with marinade and chill up to 24 hours.
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
Few shakes of pepper
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
Directions Mix all ingredients and add lemons.
Tips for Freezing
If you purchase fish or seafood in bulk, the Walls remind you the most important thing is to remove as much air as possible. “We prefer vacuum sealing,” Theresa said.
Weston Pro 2600: This commercial-grade vacuum sealer features an extra-large bar for sealing bags up to 16 inches wide. LED lights let you monitor the stages of the sealing process. westonbrands.com. $480