For years, Fleet Landing has been a go-to destination to enjoy she-crab soup and fried seafood while taking in the waterfront views of the Charleston Harbor. The eatery is gearing up for a celebration in honor of its 15th anniversary, an impressive milestone especially given the frequent restaurant openings and closings in Charleston. Eater spoke with husband and wife co-owners Tradd and Weesie Newton ahead of their 15 Days of Fleet, which starts this Friday and will feature 15 oysters on the half shell for the price of a dozen, a “birthday beer” brewed by Low Tide Brewing and a new special each day.
As many Charlestonians know, the restaurant is housed in a retired 1940s naval building, and according to Tradd, the building was boarded up for about 25 years before they started to work on it. City rules prohibited them from doing anything to the exterior, but the architect in charge of transforming the interior, Reggie Gibson, did his best to mimic the setup that the building had during its former life. “We had to rebuild the entire foundation, which took the longest,” explained Weesie. The couple said that the 100% concrete building has avoided major flooding and significant damage during the numerous hurricanes that have run through Charleston over the last 15 years. Nine current employees have been working at Fleet Landing since the very first year, and notable celebrities like Alex Rodriguez, Matthew Stafford, and Trace Atkins have dined at Fleet Landing since the opening.
A couple subtle elements inside the restaurant have one-of-a-kind origin stories. Take the iconic wall adorned with bright orange life jackets. “We had all these ideas for what to put on that wall, and I had these life jackets that were just sitting in our garage,” explained Weesie. “We put them up and just instantly loved it. People from all over the world have taken their picture with those life jackets.” Fleet Landing patrons might also notice the star sticker on the glass between two tables in the back, which was added because guests kept running into the glass as they attempted to walk out to the deck by the water.
A lot has changed in Charleston since Fleet Landing opened its doors on November 30, 2004, but the restaurant remains one that is appreciated by visitors and locals alike as evidenced by the estimated four million guests they have served since their debut. “We have people who make this their first stop when they come to Charleston each year, and often times they are coming here for a specific dish,” said Weesie. She explained that because of this, the menu hasn’t undergone any major changes, although they have expanded the specials list to keep things fresh for their regulars. Stop in for the conclusion of “15 Days of Fleet” on November 30 when the eatery will serve birthday cake and toast champagne at 5 p.m. to commemorate the milestone.
• Fleet Landing [Official]