Back in June, I was so happy to write about the reopening of The Fat Radish, which had been closed due to COVID-19 concerns for the prior three months, on the exact day of its grand opening in 2019.


The passage of another four months in the pandemic has led to another pivot and another debut of sorts for the stylish space on MLK, whose team will launch Shipwreck’d this weekend, a nautical-themed "low key raw bar" in The Fat Radish restaurant itself.


"We want to do a in-house pop-up that is going to last for an extended period of time," executive chef Nick Wilber explained in a telephone interview on Sunday. "Instead of a one-off, we want to do it for the month of October and possibly into November, depending on how well-received it is."


In a press release, owner Natalie Freihon wrote that the "mid- and post-quarantine palettes" have given her team "the perfect opportunity to test out the idea."


MOUTHWATERING MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE


The name ‘Shipwreck’d’ comes from what 2020 has done to all of us, but Wilber said that he and Freihon wanted to "spin it and have some fun with it."


Unlike the more common pop-up restaurant event, The Fat Radish will essentially be transformed into a new restaurant for the time being with new décor, a new menu, and even new logos featuring a mermaid and a salty sea captain.


Keeping the smart southern solarium underpinnings, the interior now embraces the seafaring scene "of being shipwrecked on a vintage ship somewhere out in the middle of nowhere," while still smackdab in Savannah’s downtown.


Behind the bar will be both tenders and shuckers, serving up Fat Radish’s familiar craft cocktails as well as oysters, local fish ceviches, and crudos.


"It’s stone crab season right now, so those will be featured," said Wilber.


The local oyster season also begins this week, and he plans on offering "a nice selection," including locally caught products as well as brackish bivalves from The Fat Radish’s northeast connections and perhaps some from the west coast.


Among the hot entrées will be baked oysters, fish and chips, po’ boys, market catches, seafood tacos, and peel-and-eat shrimp.


"We’ll have a section of The Radish favorites," Wilber promised to folks who have become fans of The Fat Radish in the last year-plus. "We want to make sure that we have some vegan and vegetarian [dishes] that can be used as sides or put together as a meal."


The kale caesar, duck fat fries, Scotch egg, burger, and more are still available on this dining desert island. In addition, the top-notch kitchen will continue to furnish pre-order picnic bags and The Fat Radish At Home meals for takeaway, which will "shift slightly as well" to reflect the new emphasis on seafood.


SEAT YOURSELF, MATEY, AND STAY A WHILE


Central to this ‘temporary-permanent’ change will be a "more casual service" that Wilber called a mix of counter and table set-ups, and Freihon echoed that the "concept is meant to bring a more low-key, seat-yourself vibe" to an otherwise upscale restaurant.


"It allows us to open the doors, play the music a little louder, and embrace the area of town that we’re in," Wilber added.


Under the city’s Phase 1 Reopening Framework, The Fat Radish began offering outdoor seating at tables under an awning on its MLK sidewalk back in June, and the Shipwreck’d design will jibe with a more open atmosphere.


Freihon wrote that "there will be games on hand, great playlists, and live music on the weekends," all of which will harmonize with "lower price points to allow for even more rounds of drinks and oysters."


This week, The Fat Radish shut down on Wednesday and Thursday to re-decorate and to do a staff training with the new dishes.


"This raw bar concept has always been there," Wilber said of the vision he and Freihon have shared throughout years of working together at the original Fat Radish in New York and Charleston’s Basic Kitchen.


"Who knows in these times?" he then asked, echoing the rhetorical of every chef and restaurateur who has re-imagined, retooled, and restarted since the middle of March.


"But it’s something that still embraces what we do at The Fat Radish. We’re not totally going to change the concept with that, but we’re going to enjoy doing this.


"If this is really successful," Wilber added, "we’re always looking to branch out," alluding to keeping the concept but eventually moving it to another Savannah location when The Fat Radish returns to its roots come the winter holidays.


For now, landlubbers can drive down MLK Jr. Boulevard to feast on briny deep booty. Shipwreck’d will keep The Fat Radish’s days and hours of operation: Wednesday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., with the addition of a Sunday service that opens earlier (3 p.m.).


Both Freihon and Wilber fully expect The Fat Radish will be back as The Fat Radish in early 2021.


Happily stealing her words for my column’s closing, "Hopefully, we’ll feel less shipwreck’d then.