The Royal Tern

The Royal Tern during construction. Provided

Just in time for colder weather, The Royal Tern is on the cusp of igniting its wood-fired grill and opening for business. Partner John Williams says the Johns Island seafood restaurant should start serving by the end of the month.

Already, he says, the project has been warmly received. “It’s something different for the island,” says Williams, a former Rue de Jean general manager. Chef David Pell is also a Holy City Hospitality alum. Williams’ partner and brother, Ben, previously worked front-of-house jobs under Ken Vedrinski (Lucca, Coda del Pesce).

Along the lines of doing something different, the Williamses scratched their initial plans for an extensive raw bar, deciding to emphasize their wood-fired grill instead. The Royal Tern will serve four or five varieties of oysters on the half shell, but in acknowledgment of how many other restaurants are now promoting their raw bars, it will also offer stuffed and grilled oysters.

“That’s not on Johns Island at this point,” Williams says.

Still, Williams says he appreciates what is on Johns Island. “It’s nice to be out of downtown,” he says. “We’ve got trees around us. It’s beautiful.”

Open space also translates to room for parked cars, which Williams says was a major draw when the restaurant was recruiting employees. “We were a little concerned at the beginning, but I feel like a lot of people are excited about the perk of parking,” he says.

In addition to the seafood, The Royal Tern will serve steak, chicken and sandwiches. Williams envisions Johns Islanders dropping by the restaurant’s bar for a beer and a po’-boy.

“We want it to be that spot that people come to three to four times a month, not three to four times a year,” he says.

Customers can start racking up their visits soon. The Royal Tern has received its permit from the Department of Health and Environmental Control, and is aiming to open at 3005 Maybank Highway sometime after Thanksgiving. For updates, visit

Reach Hanna Raskin at 843-937-5560 and follow her on Twitter @hannaraskin.

Food editor and chief critic

Eating all of the chicken livers just as fast as I can.