September 2020

2020: The Faces of Food & Beverage

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


Branco & Flora Raiac
Flora’s Italian Café

In times like these, when some restaurant patrons are feeling insecure about dining out, Branco and Flora Raiac, owners of Flora’s Italian Café on Hilton Head Island, are pleased to extend a warm, albeit socially distant welcome as they continue to serve their signature Italian and European specialties with a side of love and a strong commitment to the well-being of their customers and employees. “What’s a little extra cleaning and sanitizing when you get to do what you love for people you care about?” Flora said, reflecting the work ethic that has driven the couple’s success throughout their lives.

The Raiacs are no strangers to rules and restrictions, as both grew up in communist Romania, where everyone was required to work for the government. Business ownership wasn’t an option for Branco, who started cooking as a young boy and was later given the opportunity to go to culinary school. But when his American-born mother returned to the U.S., Branco and Flora followed, moving to New Jersey, where Branco worked as a cook at an Italian restaurant. Flora initially worked as a dishwasher until she got comfortable in the kitchen and learned to bake. Today, she is known for the delectable homemade desserts served at Flora’s.

After 10 years working for someone else, the Raiacs opened their own Italian restaurant, which they operated for the next 10 years while raising two sons. Then, while vacationing on Hilton Head Island, an opportunity arose to own a restaurant here; they took a leap of faith, selling everything up North and setting down roots in the Lowcountry, where they have been happily planted for the past 17 years.

Branco’s passion for cooking and 50-plus years of experience along with the couple’s shared dedication to superb customer care makes Flora’s Italian Café a favorite among locals and annual visitors. Offering authentic, homemade Italian and European cuisine, made with the highest quality and freshest ingredients, the Raiacs are fully committed to providing a safe dining experience, generously seasoned with kindness and sincere customer appreciation.

“Our customers are like our family,” Flora said. “We would like to thank everyone for your patience. We love having you back!”

841 William Hilton Parkway
South Island Square
Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
(843) 842-8200
florasitaliancafe.com

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Heath & Linda Prosser
Alfred’s Restaurant

What is one meal you could never live without?
Schnitzel! We both love it—veal, pork, even chicken—you name it!

Give us your advice for aspiring food entrepreneurs … in six words or less.
Mise en place is the key!

Which dishes and drinks are your customers’ favorites?
Everything German—plus the Potato Crusted Halibut, Bone-in Veal Chop, Filet au Poivre, and our Crispy Duck! Chocolate martinis are also a fan fave!

If you were to go on a food tour anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Thailand. The Thai markets and street food are something we want to see and try. Heath wants to eat fried spiders!

Cooking at home or going out for dinner?
We like to try new restaurants, but eating at home is definitely the option more often than not!

807 William Hilton Pkwy.
Hilton Head Island, SC 29926
(843) 341-3117
www.alfredshhi.com
prosshlbj@gmail.com

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Michael Mulcahy
Old Fort Pub

What is one meal you could never live without?
Bacon, lettuce, and tomato

How do you relax after a busy day at the restaurant?
Milk & cookies and Netflix

Give us your advice for aspiring food entrepreneurs…in six words or less.
You are born to do this!

Which dishes and drinks are your customer’s favorite?
Fresh local fish, all seasonal

If you were to go on a food tour anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Italy

What is your favorite cookbook?
French Laundry

What is your most guilty pleasure?
Frozen peanut M&M’s

Cooking at home or going for dinner?
Her choice on dinner

What is on your food bucket list?
I’ll try anything

What is your drink of choice?
Gatorade

Hilton Head Plantation
63 Skull Creek Drive
Hilton Head Island, SC 29926
(843) 681-2386
www.oldfortpub.com

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Beth & Maddie Barnett
Eat Me Cookies

Eat Me Cookies is a cookie brand on a mission to bring cheer, wit, and occasional bad news in the form of a delicious cookie cake. It was founded in 2020 by sister duo Beth and Maddie Barnett, who share a love of baking and a twisted sense of humor. After fleeing from their shared New York City apartment to their parents’ home in South Carolina, Beth recalled an idea she had months ago about creating a novelty cookie cake that she made for a friend that was never sent, as no companies would deliver it. Feeling inspired by what was shared on a podcast, it was at that moment that Eat Me Cookies transcended from an idea into a business. In late April, the two sisters took all necessary steps to bring Eat Me Cookies to life by securing the domain, registering the LLC, trademarking the name, and taking the idea to Instagram. Within a matter of days after launching, Eat Me Cookies received orders from customers across the U.S. and had already become a fan favorite among notable celebrities.

Only five years apart in age, Beth and Maddie have become a power duo and best friends. Before starting Eat Me Cookies, Beth was a career nanny for affluent families throughout Manhattan for 10 years, where she and Maddie both attended English Nanny Governess School. Maddie’s background includes matchmaking for singles across the U.S. and managing a unique fitness studio in Tribeca.

About the Cookies
The brand’s 12-inch cookie cakes are made to make people laugh with witty and snarky sayings. Eat Me Cookies are crafted in the Barnett’s family kitchen in Bluffton, South Carolina out of love, and the occasional F-bomb. The cookie cakes are available in a variety of flavors including chocolate chip, peanut butter, sugar cookie, and funfetti, and are also available gluten-free and vegan.

eatmecookiecakes.com

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Bill Rice
TJ’s Take and Bake Pizza

Most everyone loves pizza and has a very strong opinion of what they like. That’s especially true for Bill Rice, owner of TJ’s Take and Bake Pizza on Hilton Head Island’s north end. Bill has been a pizza connoisseur his whole life and has his own strong opinion of what make a great pizza. He first stumbled on TJ’s during a visit to Hilton Head back in 2014 and was impressed with the TJ’s concept: a pizzeria-quality pie you bake up at home at your own convenience. Also impressive was the similarity to the New York-style pizza he loves most, the wide array of signature TJ’s pies, and the reputation TJ’s has enjoyed since its founding in 2003.

After 30 years in the radio business as a sound engineer and journalist, Bill decided he wanted to move to the Lowcountry to be close to family. When he learned that TJ’s was up for sale, he jumped at it, packed up his life in Cleveland, Ohio and moved to the island. “The timing was right for a new career,” he said. “And now, here I am: a hard-working pizza shop owner providing a product that islanders love.”

You’ll find Bill at the shop most every day, prepping ingredients, making pizzas, working the register, or when asked, encouraging customers to try his absolute favorite pie: the Quattro Formaggio—a white pizza featuring four different cheeses plus tomatoes and basil. And, since it’s routine to make any changes a customer wants to a signature pie, he might recommend adding a little pepperoni.

35 Main Street
Hilton Head Island, SC 29926
(843) 681-2900
tjstakeandbakepizza.com

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Tommy Thompson
GT International Cafe

I met Gladys Britos about 16 years ago; we worked together in a restaurant on the south end of Hilton Head Island, and since that time we started talking about opening our own restaurant. About three years ago, someone showed me this location, and I loved it. I called Gladys to see if she was still interested in the business. She was in Spain, but she said yes! It has not been easy, but our customers make me keep going, and now we’re doing fresh dinners to go. Most of them are vacuum sealed and pasteurized, like veal ossobuco, curry chicken, lobster ravioli, spinach and portobello raviolis, panzerottis and a lot more.

What is one meal you could never live without?
The Colombian Breakfast with a Colombian Coffee.

How do you relax after a busy day at the restaurant?
Walk with my wife and dog on the beach

Give us your advice for aspiring food entrepreneurs … in six words or less.
Love it, or you will go crazy.

Which dishes and drinks are your customers’ favorites?
G T Skillets, GT Breakfast, Colombian Breakfast and our unique Colombian Coffee

If you were to go on a food tour anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Europe

What is your most guilty pleasure?
Food

Cooking at home or going for dinner?
Both

What is your drink of choice?
Coffee or Tommy’s Margarita

807 William Hilton Parkway
Hilton Head Island 29928
(843) 842-3300
Tommythompson0505@yahoo.com

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