September 2006

Amie Baima: Energetic, Enthusiastic & Entrepreneurial!

Author: Teresa Fitzgibbons

Energetic, enthusiastic and entrepreneurial are three words that come to mind when describing Amie Baima. The owner of Skillets in Coligny Plaza has been a familiar face for Hilton Head Island dining patrons since the early ’90s.

Amie’s creativity was the driving force behind several establishments that have become Island institutions. She opened Just Pasta and The Coligny Bakery in 1992; both of which she operated for 12 years. In addition, she also had a catering business, Corner Market Catering, and Hilton Head Wedding Cakes in the ’90s. These days she focuses on Skillets, the breakfast restaurant she started in 1994.

“There was a need for a breakfast restaurant at this end of the island,” she says. “When I had the bakery, I’d see the same people every day. They’d say they really wanted eggs, waffles or pancakes. This seemed like the natural thing to do.”

Where some people see obstacles, Amie sees opportunities. A fire in 2002 devastated the neighboring Alligator Grille and damaged Skillets, forcing it to close for two years. During that time, the decision to only have one tenant in that location was made. Amie submitted her proposal to Coligny Plaza, got the site and expanded Skillets.

Like any successful businessperson, Amie doesn’t shy away from taking an innovative approach to serving her clientele while staying attuned to their needs. After all, how many breakfast restaurants feature an Elvis impersonator three nights a week? “I’m amazed at how many people come out to see him,” she says. It’s a fun atmosphere in which patrons may take to the floor and dance.

In addition to breakfast selections, Skillets offers the simple, “home-style” lunch and dinner options that tourists crave while they’re away from home and locals may not have the time to prepare with their busy schedules.

“This is the perfect place for families to come and eat affordably,” she says. Her own family is there often, especially her parents, John and Darlene. “They are a major help,” she says. So is her six-year-old son, Evan. “He loves to roll silverware; he hosts and buses.” Her sister Sandy, who owns several retail stores in Coligny, is also a frequent visitor.

Amie knows what locals and tourists are looking for in a restaurant. Her family moved to the island in 1977 and she grew up here. Her first job was at Gottlieb’s Bakery, which she would later buy, and at one time her parents owned Healthy Days. “I knew I wanted to be around food,” she says. “This was a natural progression for me.”

After graduating from May River Academy, she received a degree in food science from Winthrop University. She later earned a culinary degree from Johnson and Wales.

Amie is passionate about her chosen field. She works the long hours, weekends and holidays that are common in the restaurant business. “When you’re doing something that you love, it doesn’t matter,” she says. “The hours never even enter my mind. I can’t imagine doing something else.” Even with the long hours, Amie still manages to stay involved with the community. She was recently elected to the board of the Sandbox Children’s Museum.

Skillets is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. It’s a rare occasion that you won’t find Amie there. “I enjoy being here. I meet people from different places with different ideas. This is exciting.”

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