Celebrating 40 Years of Iconic Dining in Beaufort County
Forty years of anything tasty makes for our kind of anniversary and that’s especially true in the restaurant business. That’s why when we learned that two of Beaufort County’s quintessential restaurants were both celebrating their “Ruby Jubilee” in 2023, we knew we needed to write something gem-like.
So, we’re raising our glass and extending a sincere congratulations to Truffles Cafe in Hilton Head and Bluffton and Alvin Ord’s Sandwich Shop in Port Royal for the mouthwatering meals they have served our community tirelessly, graciously, and deliciously for the past 40 years.
Just as Charles Fraser was developing Hilton Head in the early 1980s, Price Beall, along with his brother, Sandy, and sister-in-law, Kreis—all of whom were in the restaurant industry—met the forward-thinking developer at a party. He was building a new shopping center in Sea Pines at the time, and asked the trio if they would be interested in opening a restaurant in the center. The three of them then flew to New York to look at a variety of different restaurant concepts and came back to Hilton Head to open their first Truffles Cafe in 1983.
The concept started out as full-blown bakery, along with deli cases filled with meats, cheeses and prepared salads, a live fire grill, and a specialty foods market. The Bealls quickly realized that running a bakery and a prepared foods market in a seasonal location wasn’t profitable, so they removed the bakery and refrigerator cases, added a bar, and exchanged the specialty foods market for more dining tables. Thus, the current iteration of the now-iconic Truffles Cafe concept was born.
Sandy and Kreis moved away from the area in 1986, while Price and his wife, Karen—whom he met at the restaurant—continued running the business. As Truffles continued to garner rave reviews and gain notoriety in Hilton Head, they opened their second Truffles Cafe in Belfair Towne Village Bluffton in 2000. And, if that wasn’t enough, they—along with brother Sandy—also conceived and opened Chow Daddy’s in Hilton Head in 2014 and in Bluffton in 2015. In 2016, longtime managers Fernando and Heather Lossada (who also met at Truffles) became partners in the business.
Today, Price overseas the entire operation, while Karen oversees the marketing and interior design, Fernando runs the day-to-day
operations of the restaurants (along with Jeannine Gleason in the Belfair Town Village location), and Heather runs the office. “We are so fortunate to work with so many amazing people that help us serve our guests each day,” says Price. “These people that comprise our great teams are responsible for our 40 years of success.”
We’re sure that’s true, but the delicious food and atmosphere at both locations play big roles as well. The lunch and dinner menus are extensive, truly offering something for everyone. For lunch, the menu is loaded with classic soups (both the tomato dill soup and the baked French onion soup have been on the menu since they opened, so you know they are delicious); creative hearty salads like tuna napa salad and curry chicken salad (also on the menu since the beginning); hearty sandwiches, including ham and brie, mango chicken sandwich and a burger that’s as pretty to look at as it is to eat; and specialty dishes like spinach quiche, pot pie and crab cakes.
The dinner menu has many of the same offerings (thank goodness!), with the addition of some tasty shareable appetizers like tuna wonton, mushroom crostini and some seriously sinful parmesan fries served with white truffle aioli, and delectable entrées like grilled tuna and salmon, fried coconut shrimp, baby back ribs (also since the beginning), meatloaf, grilled chicken with a parmesan pesto glaze, pesto pasta with shrimp and roasted mushroom pasta.
Entrées are served with heaping helpings of decadently creamy mashed potatoes or basmati rice, along with ever-changing fresh vegetables du jour. The beers are cold, the cocktails are creative, the wine list is varied (they even have their own house sangria), and the desserts are original and house made—you can’t go wrong with either the key lime pie or the decadent blondie!
Both locations feature a sophisticated interior design and hip vibe—thanks to Karen’s impeccable design eye and the help of local designer, Melanie Congdon with J. Banks Design Group in Hilton Head—along with patio seating and a full bar for imbibing or dining.
Of the Truffles Cafe experience, Price adds, “We all love food and the restaurant business and are always looking for new additions to the menus and ways to take great care of our teams, all the while remembering the reason for our being here is to offer our guests a friendly and enjoyable dining experience.” After 40 years, we’d say they have it figured out.
Alvin Ord’s Sandwich Shop
In Northern Beaufort County, Alvin Ord’s has been serving sandwiches and more since 1983 as well, when Tom and Marie Lewis opened on West Street and then moved to Ribaut Road shortly thereafter. The story goes that Tom Lewis was working at a Fortune 500 company in Austin, Texas, where he met Alvin Ord Johnston in various business dealings and became fast friends. He’d often go over to Alvin Ord’s restaurant on Wednesdays, and they’d have lunch, share stories and swap recipes. Six months later, Alvin disappeared. It wasn’t until later that it was discovered that he had gone to Washington State to become a Trappist Monk.
Around the same time, Tom’s professional workload had taken over and his family was resentful for how little time Tom spent at home.
Tom recalls spending the day with his son in the park and his son casually saying that he was sad that he never saw him anymore because he worked so much. It was at that point that Tom decided he needed to make a change.
Tom and his family returned to Beaufort, where he had lived as a teenager and young adult and decided to open a restaurant like the original Alvin Ord’s in Texas. There was one big difference, however. Tom never liked the bread they were using at the Texas outpost, which was Alvin’s mom, Gertrude Wallace’s recipe. Tom took his own grandmother’s bread recipe, tweaked it, threw in a secret ingredient, and perfected it. Now, 40 years later, they are using the same bread.
One of the keys to 40 years of success, according to Tom, is the quality of the ingredients. “It’s the key to some extent of the success of the sandwich shop,” says Tom. “A secret that my grandfather told me once was that if you start a business and give your customer the highest quality you can give them at the best price and with a smile, people will come back.” And, indeed, people have been lining up for the tasty sandwiches for 40-plus years and counting.
Earlier this year, it was time for Tom and Marie to pass on their reigns and retire. But the key was finding the right person to entrust their legacy. We are thrilled to report that the Lewis’s have bestowed their Alvin Ord’s baby to none other than Nick Borreggine of Fat Patties and Shellring Ale Works fame, along with his partner (and dad), Nick, and their wives, Michele and Kathy.
Yep—you heard us right. As of this past June, Tom and Marie Lewis sold Alvin Ord’s to Nick and his family. Their relationship goes back 20-plus years to when Nick first came to Beaufort and started Panini’s. After a few missteps along the way due to Nick’s admitted youth and inexperience, Tom came to Nick’s rescue with staff, equipment and advice. Although Nick no longer owns Panini’s, he went on to open highly successful Fat Patties in 2012 and Shellring Ale Works in 2022. “I can honestly say that without Tom, we would not be where we are today,” reflects Nick.
When it came time for Tom and Marie to sell beloved Alvin Ord’s, they remembered Nick saying that if ever they were considering closing or selling, he’d like the first right of refusal. “We couldn’t think of a better person,” says Tom. “The way he runs his business and treats his employees is impressive. He was the kind of person we wanted to sell the business to.”
Piggybacking on what Tom’s thoughts are on the success of Alvin Ord’s, Nick adds, “It’s not just one thing. It’s being a part of the community, giving back, the staff, the homemade bread, the quality ingredients. It is because of these things that it fits in with our business model so well.”
Another ingredient to the success of Alvin Ord’s is the staff. With six full-time employees—in addition to Marie, who plans to continue working there for the foreseeable future—who have all been with the shop for 12 to 30-plus years, Ms. Mary, Ms. Sunny, Ms. Ronette, Ms. Mollie, Ms. Eriko and Ms. Lisa manage the bread baking, the sandwich making, the counter ordering, and the smiles coming all day long. “When Tom first approached me, it was a deal breaker for both of us if the women would not stay on,” says Nick. “They are all so pleasant, cheerful and gracious.”
But let’s be honest here. It’s truly the food that is the secret to the success of Alvin Ord’s. Sandwiches are served on the aforementioned French bread (available in either white or whole wheat) in small, medium or large sizes, with generous helpings of meat. The Salvation (an ode to Alvin Ord Johnson’s ordination as a monk) is the original, with toasted cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses with ham, salami and spiced luncheon meat, dressed with lettuce, tomato, onions and mustard. The Cheese Salvation skips the meats, and the Ham Salvation is overstuffed with ham.
The decadent ooey-gooey meatball sandwich features the same cheeses with homemade meatballs, Italian sauce and onions, while the
roast beef and turkey sandwiches highlight in-house made-from-scratch roasted meats, with lettuce, tomato, onions and mayonnaise. Then there are the fancier sandwiches, like pastrami, a Reuben, a Rachel (turkey instead of pastrami), BLT, clubs, tuna salad, pork barbecue, French Dip, and a classic Philly cheesesteak. Salads range from chef, taco, tuna and turkey, with sides to round out the meal, including chips, pickles, potato salad and coleslaw.
The Ribaut Road location hasn’t changed much since it opened. It’s a straightforward sandwich shop with counter service (and usually a line—call-ahead orders are welcome), a somewhat Trappist monk décor paying homage to Alvin Ord Johnson, a half-dozen tables inside, and a covered patio for sandwiches alfresco.
When we talked with Nick about the new ownership, he shared with us that he was worried about ‘the new guy taking over the iconic local spot.’ So much so that he waited to announce that he had taken over until now. “We actually bought Alvin Ord’s back in June,” Nick said. “We wanted to prove to the town that we aren’t going to change a thing.
We are pleased to carry the torch in the next phase. Hopefully, we will make it another 40 years.”
We have no doubts.
71 Lighthouse Rd.
Hilton Head, SC 29928
Open Monday-Thursday 11:30am-9:00pm; Friday-Saturday 11:30am-9:30pm; Sunday 5:00pm-9:00pm
91 Towne Dr. (Belfair Towne Village)
Bluffton, SC 29910
Open Sunday-Thursday 11:30am-9:00pm; Friday-Saturday 11:30am-9:30pm
Alvin Ord’s Sandwich Shop
1415 Ribaut Rd.
Port Royal, SC 29935
Open Monday-Friday 10:30am-8:00pm; Saturday 10:30am-6:00pm; closed Sunday.
New website coming soon (www.alvinordsbft.com), but you can find them on Facebook in the meantime.
Beaufort-based travel journalists Lynn and Cele Seldon (www.seldonink.com) often cover culinary travel around the world and Lowcountry Weekly lured them to write a monthly feature covering the local food scene. This includes articles about restaurants, chefs, food-focused stores, farms, farmers, farmers markets, and more. They welcome suggestions for topics.