The 75 Year Legacy of Gay Fish Company on St. Helena Island SC

Jun 14, 2024 | Local News

Celebrating 75 Years of Freshness: The Legacy of Gay Fish Company

When I moved to Beaufort SC, it was not very long before I was told about Gay Fish Company on St. Helena Island SC.  On one of my first trips from Beaufort to Fripp Island SC I found the company and now consider it a true gem of the Lowcountry.   After a few visits, I was able to spend some quality time getting to know Charles Gay (2nd generation) and his daughter Cyndy (3rd generation).   Charles’ father started the company in 1948.  I found some many amazing pictures on the wall near the entrance.   One in particular shows Charles serving our country while in the military.    This veteran-owned establishment has been a true pillar of the community for an impressive 75 years.   I had a blast listening to Charles tell me some of his favorite stories.   He and Cyndy are very humble, so I had to be the one to ask them about being honored as the 2023 Lowcountry’s Best Winner by none other than The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette.

I think what sets Gay Fish Company on St. Helena Island SC apart isn’t just its longevity, but its unwavering commitment to quality and local sourcing.   This dedication shines through in every aspect of their operation.  As a customer, I appreciate the way they meticulously select seafood caught from nearby waters and the support they provide to fellow small business owners by showcasing their sauces, seasonings, and crafts.    I feel this company epitomizes the essence of community.

Just about everything in their shop comes from local businesses.  They said they like to support local businesses as much as they can, everything from Key lime pies to Christmas ornaments.  

Paramount Studios Bring Tom Hanks and Gary Sinise to Gay Fish Company on St. Helena Island SC

One of the fascinating stories I learned from Charles and Cyndy was how they supported the motion picture industry.   Did you know that this unassuming seafood company supplied the shrimp for the iconic film “Forest Gump,” starring the legendary Tom Hanks and Gary Sinise?  It’s true!   It was fun to learn they were the backdrop for one of Hollywood’s most beloved movies.   In my opinion, their contribution to movie magic solidified its status as a cultural landmark.

In another story, I learned the allure of Gay Fish Company extends beyond the silver screen. It has become a favored haunt for celebrities seeking an authentic taste of the Lowcountry. From the affable Tom Hanks to the laid-back vibes of Jimmy Buffett, the Gay Fish Company on St. Helena Island SC has played host to an array of notable visitors.  As a repeat customer, it’s not just the seafood that draws vacationing travelers in; it’s the warmth of hospitality and the authenticity of tradition that leave a lasting impression.

Not a Small Operation

Charles explained that at its zenith, Gay Fish Company on St. Helena Island SC operated an impressive fleet of 21 shrimp boats, a testament to its prominence in the local fishing industry. While the scale may have evolved over the years, the commitment to excellence remains unwavering. Today, first time visitors, perhaps a tourist, or regulars like me can expect a complete assortment of fish types, all sourced locally and prepared with the utmost care to preserve freshness and flavor.

What do repeat customers say sets Gay Fish Company Apart?

  • I think what truly sets Gay Fish Company apart is its status as a local icon.   If you are a local, you go to Gay Fish Company on St. Helena Island for fresh fish.
  • Beyond being the preferred supplier of fine seafood, it’s a living testament to the resilience and spirit of the Lowcountry. For generations spanning 75 years, families like mine have stopped to purchase the food and supplies that forged memories that endure a lifetime.
  • I don’t know many companies that have stayed in business for 75 years without learning how to adapt.   That is true, but while the world around Gay Fish Company on St. Helena Island SC may change, the principles of quality, community, and family remain steadfast. It’s this blend of tradition and adaptation that ensures Gay Fish Company remains not just a destination but a cherished institution.
  • In an era where authenticity is increasingly rare, Gay Fish Company stands as a beacon of integrity. After just a few minutes with Charles and Cyndy, it is clear to me they love what they do, and genuinely care about their staff and customers.  I enjoy knowing that with every purchase, I not only get the freshest seafood but also support a network of local artisans and fishermen who form the backbone of the community.

So, whether you’re a seasoned seafood expert or a curious traveler eager to sample the flavors of the Lowcountry, a visit to Gay Fish Company on St. Helena Island SC is an experience not to be missed. Come for the seafood, stay for the hospitality with Charles and Cyndy, and leave with a newfound appreciation for a true Southern institution. Here’s to 75 years of freshness, and many more to come.

 Gay Fish CompanyI hope this article describing the 75 year legacy of Gay Fish Company on St. Helena Island SC has been helpful.  It is one and only go-to source for local fresh fish near Fripp Island SC.  

With a portal you are able to:
  1. Save your searches
  2. Get updates on listings
  3. Track listings
  4. Add notes and messages
  5. Personalize your dashboard

Connect with Chris.

Give me a little information and I'll get back to you ASAP.



Your Name(Required)
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.