June 2020

21 Faces of Lowcountry Hospitality: Andrew Carmines

Author: Special to CH2 | Photographer: M.KAT Photography

Andrew Carmines
General Manager of Hudson’s on the Docks

Hudson’s on the Docks has been serving fresh seafood to local visitors since 1912, when the original oyster factory was built as a seafood processing plant. J.B. Hudson Sr. started a thriving family business that became a local landmark and Hilton Head tradition. In 1975, Brian and Gloria Carmines—transplants from Long Island, N.Y., purchased Hudson’s, and a new family tradition began. Brian worked the first six months as a chef while the rest of the family cleared tables, took orders, and served the guests. Hudson’s currently hosts more than 1,000 guests on a typical summer night. Today, Brian and Gloria’s son Andrew is at the helm, in addition to serving as founder/president of the Shell Ring Oyster Company. As a true island native, he’s passionate about sustainable seafood and is involved in local environmental initiatives. You’ll find him chatting with guests six days out of seven at Hudson’s, and there couldn’t be a bigger fan of all this area has to offer.

What question do you get asked most often by our visitors?
Is your seafood fresh, and is it local? And the answer is, of course!

If you could advise our visitors to do just one thing while they were here, what would it be?
Get out on the water; go experience the physical beauty of the area. It’s such a special place. We have so many great local companies that cater to eco-tours. My cousin Christopher (May River Excursions) does shrimping, crabbing and fishing tours with our guests. That’s how I spend my days off, so that’s what I would tell people to do. And go to the beach.

What would you recommend a first-time customer of Hudson’s to order?
Order your seafood based on whatever season it is—whatever is the freshest. If it’s softshell crab season (usually the entire month of April), order a softshell crab dish; if it’s shrimp season, those boats are coming in every other day with fresh shrimp, so be sure to get that. During the winter, order the oysters, Stone crab claws in the summer. Right now, Melanie’s on her way here to unload a boat, and she’ll have 50 pounds of stone crab claws, so we’ll have those every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. No matter what day of the week you come in, the crabs are only 48 hours out of the water, which is amazing. That’s how I eat. I am a total snob when it comes to seafood. I tell my staff that whatever they see me eating for lunch here, that’s what they should recommend to their customers that day.

Favorite annual event or festival?
Well, I’m a little bit biased about the best festival on the island because my family and I, along with a great team of people, put on the Hilton Head Island Seafood Festival every February. So, I obviously have a soft spot for that one. I’ve also been known to overindulge at the RBC Heritage from time to time.

Unofficial poll: Where do most of our visitor’s hail from?
Ohio? Ha! Ha! But you do see a lot of people now coming from Georgia. And a lot of our visitors eventually become our residents and regular customers.

How long have you lived here and what do you love the most about it?
Little known fact about me: I was born on the front seat of my dad’s pickup truck at the base of the Parris Island bridge, because I couldn’t make it to the hospital. My mom insisted that my dad pull over. He delivered me on the front seat of that Dodge pickup truck in 1978. The police arrived and gave us an escort, and they put my mom in an ambulance. When we got to the hospital, my dad was so distraught, they wheeled him and me in via wheelchair and forgot my mom in the ambulance. So, I guess the answer to that question is that I have lived here my whole life.

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