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2 Apr 2019
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Staring out the front door of our Beachside Vacations office window, beyond the hustle and bustle of the lively Harris Teeter parking lot, curiosity ensues behind an old Pizza Hut sign and brown Kraft paper in the window front. A new addition is discretely making its way to our beach town community within the Island Shopping Center on Isle of Palms. IOP Raw, a fresh extension of the cozy Long Island Cafe, expects to open in early May 2019.

For those who are not yet regulars of the Long Island Cafe, allow me to set the scene: intimate, comfortable seating, intermittent buzzing of friendly service and happy chatter, local buttery seafood fresh out of our coastal waterways, and a melt in your mouth filet over garlic mashed potatoes that will knock your flip flops right off. The fact that this classic little café has survived over 35 years including weathering Hurricane Hugo, should be reason enough for any curious (and hungry!) island dweller to come and grab a bite. This hidden gem serves lunch and dinner from 11am-2pm, and 5pm-till respectively, and a Sunday brunch from 11am-2pm.

IOP Raw is the spunky daughter to-be of the charming, pioneer that is the Long Island Cafe. Owned and operated by veteran chef Ravi Scher, and restauranteurs Michael Proetto and Christiana Harsch; IOP Raw will offer something slightly different than its predecessor, including fun cocktails and draft beer, along with TVs for patrons to enjoy a casual, happy hour atmosphere. Oh, and did I mention OYSTERS?! Ryan Groeschel, owner and founder of Sea Island Oyster Company, offers many varieties from Privateer Creek. Livingston Seafood of Bulls Bay has also teamed up with IOP Raw offering local oysters, shrimp, and soft shelled crabs when the moon phase is just right. Local oysters are a staple, along with a unique chef selected collection of some of the best East Coast varieties, hailing from Virginia to Canada depending on season.

So what is behind this New England raw bar craze that is becoming more popular here in the Low Country? You can thank a new generation of farmers, eager to risk all that we have ever accepted, and recreate the system of harvesting year-round oysters here in South Carolina’s waters. Delicious, briny goodness can be enjoyed straight from the spiny shell of a Bulls Bay blade, perched on a barstool at IOP Raw, and paired with flavorful libations. Additional menu items will include shrimp and lobster rolls, and other small plates.

Whether you are a Charleston local with profound roots or you are visiting Isle of Palms on your next family vacation, IOP Raw will certainly be at the top of your checklist of island eateries to visit! Indulge in the wild, delicious bounty of Charleston’s fresh seafood, in a coastal, spirited atmosphere, with a cold cocktail in hand.