Spotlight on Small Business: “Topsail Bar & Grill” – September 2010

Welcome to Topsail Bar & Grill

Topsail Bar & Grill, Tybee’s newest waterfront restaurant located on the docks of the Lazaretto not only offers a rare view of the setting sun over the island’s western marshlands, you’ll also find a mixture of island cuisine fit for your most diverse appetite.

Owners Kim and Chong Calabro are definitely into creating dishes that blend their cultural backgrounds with the atmosphere of the marina – traditional seafood, steaks and barbecue, enhanced by treasured Korean culinary secrets.

Kim Calabro studied journalism and philosophy at Auburn University.  After graduating in 2007, she worked in the publishing industry in Manhattan, NYC, then for an advertising firm out of Hilton Head, SC.  Her mother and partner, Chong Calabro is originally from South Korea, but has lived all over the world, and for the most part has always worked in the restaurant business. Chong owned and operated a restaurant for nearly ten years known as the Richmond Hill Cafe in Richmond Hill, GA.

Upon closing the cafe in February of this year, Chong first toyed around with the idea of opening a take out type eatery in downtown Savannah, and Kim offered to help search for a suitable space.

They happened upon an online listing (on Craig’s List to be exact!) for an existing restaurant space for lease on Tybee Island. They met with landlord Paul Burns the very next day and immediately fell in love with the locacation. Kim, always up for a challenge, convinced Chong they should run it together, and after turning down the job she was offered to teach English in Korea, Kim and her mother began the ever-exciting adventure known Topsail.

“When creating our menu,” says Kim, “We wanted to offer something Tybee hasn’t experienced – that’s where our vision of “Island fusion with a little bit of Seoul” came from. We also wanted to offer healthy menu items with pan-asian flare. Our primary signature dish would probably be the ‘bulgogi’ (Korean BBQ beef). We prepare it three ways – in a Korean style salad called Bibimbop; an entree served with fried rice; the most popular choice, the ‘I’ve Got Seoul’ sandwich.”

The restaurant specializes in delicious seafood dishes – entrees like cilantro lime swordfish, ginger-chile tuna, crab cakes, crab legs, soft shell crabs and orange sesame scallops. They also offer traditional surf and turf, ribeyes and New York strips, appetizers, including Thai-maran or peel and eat shrimp, a variety of fresh salads, seafood sandwiches tuna tacos, burgers, and chicken finger and shrimp baskets served with french fries and Asian-style slaw.

A children menu is available as well as dinner specials. Patrons have their choice of indoor or outdoor seating, and bars – also, Topsail occasionally features live music on the outside marina deck.

If you frequent the restaurant, by now, you know that everyone – patrons and employees alike, refer to Chong as “Mama” or “Mama-San.” This says everything about what the Calabros are trying to accomplish on Tybee – they are creating a place where people come and immediately feel at home with close friends and family.

The best part about Topsail, says Kim, is getting to know everyone that walks in the door and making lasting relationships with customers – locals and tourists alike.

“We want to know your story,” explains Kim. “And trust me, we’ll happily divulge ours, just ask our regulars. That’s what we love so much about Tybee. Everyone on this island genuinely wants to get to know you and wants to help you. Everyone here has been so supportive – we couldn’t have dreamed of a better start in a new community. When you hear ‘Topsail’ we want people to think, great food and great friends!”

#4 Old US Hwy. 80
Tybee Island, GA 31328
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