Courtesy of Kindred Restaurant 

With quality ingredients and California flair, Joe and Katy Kindred are redefining the fish camps of their youth.

By Chris Hughes

When he was growing up in Davidson, North Carolina, Joe Kindred says a typical Friday night on the town meant hopping on a boat and ferrying to one of the many rustic, Southern-style fish camps that dotted the shores of Lake Norman. "These were family-owned places, built in the 1940s and "50s, where the staff was always super friendly, there was nautical decor on the walls, and everything came in huge portions," Joe says. There, on that massive inland sea, families would sit elbow to elbow with their neighbors at long tables, sharing platters of Calabash shrimp, salt-and-pepper catfish, and hush puppies.

"It was a fun, communal experience that still has relevance in the area today," Joe says. But after watching a number of these institutions shutter over the years, he and his wife, Katy, grew concerned that the fish camp tradition was dying. And when the couple heard that the owner of The Rusty Rudder in nearby Cornelius was retiring, they stepped in. Coming off the wild success of their first restaurant, Kindred, in Davidson, Joe and Katy had been looking to make a sophomore splash in a bigger market. But this place was particularly personal to Joe, who had frequented the beloved local landmark as a child. So after a whirlwind research tour of fish camps throughout the Carolinas, he and Katy returned home to open their own modern version—Hello, Sailor—in the Rusty Rudder space.

The result is "midcentury Southern meets Palm Springs," Joe says, with wood paneling, pastel accents, a thatched-roof outdoor tiki bar, and a menu featuring "chef-driven" takes on the fried seafood Joe grew up on. "Our "fish platter" is a fried whole flounder with mojo verde and chile mayo. Our hush puppies are served with yuzu-honey butter. It's a hodgepodge of influences from all our travels," he says. "It's well-thought-out fish camp food for a new era."

Related: The Ultimate Fish Fry

Meet Joe and Katy 

Ages: 35 and 37, respectively

Where they met: The Pump Room in Chicago, where Joe was sous chef and Katy was wine director

Favorite fish camps: Bowens Island Restaurant in Charleston, and Seafood Hut and Ella's in Calabash 

Photography: Caitlin Bensel; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine; Food Styling: Mary Claire Britton

Make Their Recipe

Calabash fish camp meets chef-driven flair in this whole fish masterpiece from chef Joe Kindred at Hello, Sailor in North Carolina. Dredging in masa harina, the flour used to make corn tortillas, guarantees a super crispy crust ready—perfect for dunking in herbaceous mojo verde or chile mayo.