We're proud to be featured amongst such great company in one of the country’s best cities - Savannah! Buick (yes, the car manufacturer!) shot B Magazine in its entirety, featuring our great city at the beginning of this year. Our founder, Cari Phelps, had a phone interview with the writer to represent the best of the best in the city. We shared our favorite Savannah staples, like Cotton and Rye, Mrs. Wilkes, Collins Quarter, and SCAD.
As you drive down one of Savannah, Georgia’s, prettiest, tree-lined historic streets, you’ll see a crowd gather as early as 8:30 am every weekday around 107 West Jones Street. By the time Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room opens its doors two-and-a-half hours later, the hungry crowd has worked up an appetite for deliciously fried chicken, collards, candied yams, sweet creamed corn, fluffy biscuits and - of course - banana pudding or cobbler. They’ll soon enjoy a family-style communal table lunch featuring up to 20 different dishes.
“We close the line at 2 pm,” confirms Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room owner Marcia Thompson, who, along with her parents, took over the business from her grandmother, Sema Wilkes, 40 years ago. “Anyone in line at 2pm will get served my grandmother’s wonderful southern dishes.”
Mrs. Wilkes ran a boarding house in historic downtown Savannah during World War II while her husband worked for Southern Railroad. She would feed her boarders - mainly students and working-class citizens - three meals a day.
“She was a compassionate woman and set lots of house rules for these young people,” laughs Thompson.” She treated them like family. And we continue to treat our restaurant guests who get to know each other while waiting in line as a family when they come through our doors.”
When the war was over, Mrs. Wilkes continued to let guests stay in her home, but, by the 1960s, hotels became more popular for overnight accommodations and many of Mrs. Wilkes’ neighbors moved to the suburbs. Determined to keep the Southern nostalgia that she loved so much as part of Savannah’s history, Mrs. Wilkes remained in the downtown area. She opened a small public restaurant, which quickly earned an excellent reputation for serving the delicious, simple, Southern-style dishes of the region’s working class and farmers. Dishes served at the restaurant come from Mrs. Wilkes’ own recipe collections from vegetables on the farm within season.
Thompson spent many days and n nights with her grandmother in the Southern home that was once a boarding house, and now is the home to six beautiful one-bedroom vacation rentals decorated by Thompson and available for rental through Lucky Savannah Vacation Rentals. When you stay in Wilkes houses as boarders did in the past, you get complimentary lunch.
Mrs. Wilkes died in 2002, at the age of 95, but the legacy she built lives on through her descendants and the business. Every generation of Wilkes’ family continues to show that Savannah is a welcoming city filled with Southern charm. Thompson’s son, Ryan, now oversees the daily operations of the restaurant, but she makes an appearance to greet guests just like her own grandmother did years ago. Marcia says that, with every generation, “We think we may stop, but then we say, ‘Who gets to meet 250 people every day and share with them the wonderful hospitality and food of the South?’ That’s why every generation just can’t stop.”
As Mrs. Wilkes’ family shows, Savannah is a picturesque city with friendly, authentic people and enticing Southern culture - a must-see stop on any Southern road trip in Buick Enclave ST. Spared from burning in the Civil War, it is also one of the Southeast’s most beautiful cities.
As you stroll through Savannah’s streets, grab a hand-crafted ice tea or a spiced lavender mocha from The Collins Quarter; a fluffy, Southern-style biscuit from Back in the Day Bakery; or devour a big scoop of the famous Tutti-Frutti ice cream from Leopold’s on Broughton Street, and soak in Savannah’s elegance.
The Collins Quarter serves as a popular spot in Savannah for brunch. With a second location coming soon to Forsyth Park, this combination bar, cafe and restaurant offers espresso drinks, beer, wine and Australian accented meals.
Old-school sweet treats and lunch fare come in hearty portions at the vintage bakery and espresso bar known as Back in the Day Bakery, which serves biscuits from 8am until “they have no more.” The eatery, which enjoys the reputation of being the best little bakery in the South, closes at 3pm and is only open Thursday through Sunday. Owners Cheryl and Griffith Day have also penned two bestselling cookbooks.
Leopold’s Ice Cream was founded by three brothers from Greece - George, Peter and Basil Leopold - in 1919. Stratton Leopold, Peter’s youngest child, learned the art of making premium ice cream as a boy. Upon his father’s passing, Stratton took over the business, continuing his family’s legacy. He later left Savannah to pursue his dream of working in Hollywood, but he can be found scooping ice cream when he is not in Hollywood for a production. Leopold’s has a full-service soda fountain and a cafe menu.
One of Savannah’s newest culinary delights, The Fat Radish, is located in a renovated pharmacy on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Using seasonal ingredients under the expert craft of Executive Chef Nick Wilber, the Fat Radish produces fresh plates that showcase vegetables at the forefront of the dish as part of a menu featuring proteins and delectable desserts. The restaurant prides itself as a simple neighborhood eatery sourcing from small production farms and also offers three ice creams from Leopold’s.
Savannah’s newest hotel, The Alida, anchors the revitalization of River Street. This four-diamond award-winning boutique hotel has 173 rooms and suites, and the largest penthouse in the city. Like Savannah itself, The Alida celebrates custom creations, original designs and local craftwork - so no two rooms at the hotel are quite the same. Be sure to experience The Lost Square, the rooftop bar at The Alida, where you can take in impressive riverfront views while enjoying a curated selection of light bites and custom cocktails.
If you really want to blend in like a local, Lucky Savannah Vacation Rentals offers more than 200 home and apartment rentals in Savannah’s Historic Landmark District, including some dog-friendly options.
“Savannah is so special and beautiful with its beautiful oak trees, cobblestone streets, and Southern architecture,” says Cari Phelps, owner of Salacia Salts, a unique, all-natural DIY blending bar and innovative skincare business whose flagship store is located a block from Forsyth Park. “The city sports a creative culture, it’s walkable, and I truly believe this city has the friendliest people in the South.”
Salacia Salts, with its signature cobalt blue “upcycled” bottles from Savannah Bee Company’s mead tasting bar, was founded on a dream Phelps had during the renovation of her historic downtown home.
“Seriously, I had a dream that I was designing sustainable salt packaging,” Phelps says. After research, this savvy entrepreneur who moved to Savannah for college 23 years ago learned that “Tybee” means “salt” in the Euchee Indian language.
Tybee Island, Savannah’s coastal community, is where the Native Americans would harvest salt. “It was clear to me that I needed to create a bath and body line using scents of Southern regional botanicals and natural ingredients, including Atlantic sea salt,” she adds.
When customers visit the Salacia Salt studio, they can blend their own ingredients based on their favorite local botanicals. The process takes about 15 minutes. Some of the company’s best sellers, in addition to the already made up cycled salt blends, are its “Kiss My Grits” lip scrubs, soaps and sugar scrubs - made with Georgia grits, of course! Salacia Salts also offers online retail sales and special blending classes in its studio workshop.
Atlantic sea salt is a precious commodity from the numerous salt marshes in Savannah’s Lowcountry. With a quick 20-minute drive from the historic district in your Enclave Sport Touring, you can venture in to the area’s Moon River District - a haven for nature, adventure and the genuine Lowcountry experience. This region is the perfect spot for hiking-eco-watching, kayaking and cultural education in the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, which is part of the National Heritage Area program. (The Gullah Geechee people are descendants of Africans who were enslaved on plantations of the lower Atlantic Coast.)
In this area, you’ll find the Isle of Hope, the Sandfly community and Skidaway Island Natural Park. You can begin your experience at the Pin Point Heritage Museum, located in an old oyster and crab factory. This public museum is dedicated to telling the story of this long-standing Gullah Geechee fishing village, which was self-contained for 100 years.
The Skidaway Island State Park borders Skidaway Narrows, a part of Georgia’s Intracoastal Waterway. Trails wind through maritime forest and past salt marshes, leading to a boardwalk and observation tower. Visitors can watch for deer, fiddler crabs, raccoons, egrets and other wildlife while in the park. A scenic campground is nestled under live oaks and Spanish moss. Leashed pets are welcome.
Also in the Moon River District, a majestic avenue sheltered by live oaks and Spanish moss leads to the tabby ruins of Wormsloe - the colonial estate of Noble Jones, who lived there in the mid-1700s. With its 8-foot-tall tabby walls around the house, Wormsloe is Georgia’s oldest platoon, and the tabby ruins are Savannah’s oldest standing structure.
The Wormsloe State Historic Site, informally known as “Wormsloe Plantation”, is open daily. There, visitors can interact with costumed interpreters during programs and events, and view a museum with artifacts unearthed at Wormsloe, as well as a short film about the site and the founding of Georgia. The interpretive nature trail leads past the tabby ruins along the marsh to the Colonial Life Area where, during programs and special events, demonstrators in period dress exhibit the tools and skills of colonial Georgia. The site hosts several events throughout the year. Leashed pets are welcome on trails.
Boat captain Fran LaPolla and his wife, Kathleen, operate Savannah Coastal Eco Tours, at the nearby Isle of Hope Marina. Captain LaPolla oversees the boat tours while Kathleen specializes in kayaking. These environmental educators and advocates - who emphasize the importance of Georgia’s wetlands - focus on quality, not quantity, when it comes to their bespoke eco-river tours. They escort private groups down the rivers and creeks that wind through undeveloped marshland in Georgia.
“Each season, we see different wildlife,” commented Kathleen LaPolla as she recently wrapped up a three-hour private tour. One of her favorite paddle trips is Ebenezer Creek, a black-water creek tributary of the Savannah River. It offers a different, more in-depth trip than the usual Skidaway river paddle near the Skidaway Island State Park and Wormsloe State Historic Site.
“Ebenezer Creek is beautiful with cypress and tupelo trees towering over reflective water,” Kathleen says. “The creek is a National Natural Landmark with some of the cypress trees in the corridor estimated to be over a thousand years old. The Moon River District of Savannah, with these rich wetlands, is a wonderful place to visit.”
The LaPollas reside on Isle of Hope, which once was a fisherman village before railroads connected it to the mainland in the late 19th century. Bluff Drive, a winding road along the Intracoastal Waterway, is dotted with moss-hung live oaks and historic antebellum-style mansions that once belonged to some of America’s wealthiest people.
This picturesque rural area was also the site of The Great Savannah Road Races from 1908-1911, with the last race attracting thousands to watch the Vanderbilt Cup series. Buick vehicles had a presence then and - as our Enclave ST tour of Savannah shows - that presence continues today.
Check out the entire publication here.