Based in Richmond, VA, Rappahannock Oyster Company has been operating in the Chesapeake Bay area since 2002. In 2016, co-owners Travis and Ryan Croxton decided to open their fifth restaurant location in Charleston, SC — Rappahannock Oyster Bar. Located on the ground floor of The Cigar Factory, the full-service seafood restaurant and bar includes a market and, of course, a raw oyster bar. In addition to the 152-seat indoor dining room and bar, the restaurant also features a 46-seat patio.
The client envisioned a restaurant that looked as if it had been part of the historic 19th century factory building since the beginning, including a time-worn bar that had “just been dusted off” for patrons. Working closely with the owners, McMillan Pazdan Smith carefully chose minimal finishes that would give a nod to the time period of the building. Millwork played an important part in delineating the space, as the restaurant’s concept offers patrons three different choices: sit-down dining, visiting the oyster bar, or purchasing fresh seafood, dry goods, and wine from the market. While the millwork defines each distinct area, it also offers an overall cohesive design element to the space.
Exposed brick, weathered beams, and original concrete tastefully frame the bar. The visually stunning, copper bar top adds a pleasing focal point and creates a welcoming atmosphere. The existing concrete flooring was sealed without stain, adding to the character and patina of the building, while the tile backsplashes and floor are all reminiscent of old-world Charleston. White mini hexagon tiles are incorporated into the floor, and the walls behind the server stations feature subway tile.
Another unique feature of the restaurant is the oyster trough, a custom poured concrete piece incorporated into the oyster bar. A stone and concrete specialist cut the form to our exact specifications with a CNC router and delivered the piece to Charleston. The ice machine above the trough slowly drips ice into the trough throughout the day, keeping the oysters chilled.