Our New River Club – Even More of the Good Things
When the River Club at Callawassie Island opens again this spring, the enjoyment and celebration that comes with it will also mark yet another example of how Callawassie Island residents – their interests and enthusiasms and desires – shape the feeling and the future of our Island. It was the influence of Islanders themselves, after all, that led to the new River Club. It stands as a story of how Callawassie Island doesn’t take things for granted, especially when it comes to fulfilling the visions of our Members.
The idea originated with gathering Club member input about a wider concept – how to make the Callawassie Island Club itself even more desirable, and even more competitive among the private coastal communities nearby. In addition to serving dinner more nights during the week at the Callawassie Island Club, members expressed a desire for a more casual dining option – a place where the cuisine meets an equally high standard but where nice jeans could qualify as dining attire.
From that idea for a more casual dining choice, so many good things developed, and each of them, in its own way, reflects perfectly the promise of Callawassie Island.
Standing slightly apart from its earlier location, the River Club now offers an even more sublime view of the Callawassie River than before and presents that view to even more of the people in the Club. This is perhaps the first thing long-time Islanders will notice, as the experience flows smoothly from the big picture to the considerate details.
Not only is the location more view-friendly now, but the layout of the new River Club also offers more views to more people while they enjoy the Club. Originally the Club stood perpendicular to the Callawassie River, so only the tables at the end of the building were graced with a river view. Our new Club runs parallel to the river now and has an elevated point of view, so more tables adjoin the river. Our full-length, screened-in porch also overlooks the river, and the porch features ceiling fans and outdoor heaters that foretell a nearly year-round option for dining in an indoor-outdoor atmosphere.
Executive Chef Jim Spratling continually composes dishes that reflect where our members have been, and where they intend to go. The hometown heritage of cities across North America turns up in Callawassie Island Club cuisine, alongside and often blended with the blessings of the rich seafood and fresh produce tradition of our Carolina coast. The worldly intelligence of dining influences from around the world, too, show up in Callawassie Island cuisine, because many of our members had international careers, and many more travel avidly now. Chef Jim orchestrates these elements with an uncanny sense of balance.
As he turned his attention to the new River Club, Chef Jim envisioned a harmony. The kitchen at the new River Club is profoundly redesigned to make this harmony possible. His menu for the River Club now includes favorites offered at the main Clubhouse – dishes he felt that both facilities should offer, like burgers or shrimp and grits – a few fine-dining entrees to make celebrating and entertaining at the River Club an option we might call “fine casual” – including eight local and regional beers – and also some decidedly casual and fun choices, like pizza, that will be exclusive at the River Club. So, Club members will feel instantly at home and still enjoy a menu that is River Club-inspired and right for the beautiful, natural setting.
You see, the River Club originally evolved from poolside services at our river-side swimming pool. For generations, families enjoyed spending an hour or two, an afternoon, or even a whole holiday poolside. The refreshments that made those poolside interludes delicious, evolved over time to become a real menu, much more than poolside fare. Over these casual meals, families and neighbors, friends, and relatives connected in good spirits against a background of joy and natural beauty.
Growing alongside this enjoyment, the River Club eventually played such an important role in our residents’ enjoyment of Callawassie Island, that it was time to take a proactive hand in that evolution.
Our trusted Callawassie Island leadership, including General Manager Jeff Spencer and Assistant GM David Spivey, saw in these generations of enjoyment, an opportunity to enhance the experience of “connection” our residents found here because of how members loved it. The whole setting has been thoughtfully designed to foster this feeling of connection, with an outdoor pavilion for entertaining, a new design for poolside furniture, and a shaded pergola for people who want to spend more than an hour or so at the pool.
Inside, a tasteful bar is integral, but not intrusive, to the scenic dining room. Together, the dining room and the screened porch seat up to 96 members in comfort. The pool itself is now heated and cooled seasonally by a geothermal heat pump, a proven element of the pool at the main Clubhouse for making the water inviting all through the year.
The new River Club stands as an example of dedication. Not content to let good-enough stand, we listened to our members and expanded on their suggestions, keeping the amenities for living and enjoying Callawassie Island as fine as the spirit of our Island itself, which is to say, second to none.