Senior Medicare Advantage plan insurance in Bluffton, SC

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Helping Seniors Make Better-Informed Medicare Decisions

Trying to pick a health insurance plan can be a chore for anyone. For many people, just mentioning the word "open enrollment" sends shivers down the spine. It seems like there's always a nagging feeling that you're wasting money, choosing a plan with poor in-network care, or both. One would think that health insurance gets easier as you approach retirement age, but the truth is that picking an initial Medicare coverage plan can be daunting.

Unfortunately, the confusing process of signing up for Medicare causes many seniors to forego healthcare coverage altogether. After all, Medicare enrollment can involve several federal agencies, including the Social Security Administration (or SSA) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (or CMS).

At Senior Medicare Insurance Services, our passion is guiding seniors through the confusion of Medicare. That way, they can enjoy retirement with peace of mind knowing they are protected and ready for life after 65. We work with dozens of insurance companies, giving our clients the chance to choose a plan that best fits their lifestyle.

We choose to design our senior insurance plans with a focus on optimal benefits structure, lower costs, and personalized service. Some independent insurance agencies see their aging customers as nothing more than a financial transaction waiting to happen. In contrast, we treat each of our clients with respect and dignity as we help them navigate the confusing waters of Medicare. Combined with individualized service, we help older Americans make well-informed decisions about insurance. Whether you're in need of senior Medicare Supplement Plan insurance in Bluffton or simply have questions about signing up for Medicare, our team is here to help.

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Medicare Bluffton, SC

Guiding You Through The Confusion of Medicare!

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What is Medicare?

If you're approaching the golden years of your life, it's important you understand what Medicare is if you don't already.

Medicare is a federal health insurance program reserved for people older than 65 who have worked full-time for at least ten years. The Medicare program is paid for by a combination of worker payroll tax, premiums paid by Medicare enrollees, and the U.S. government.

There are four parts of Medicare:

 Senior Medicare Advantage Plan Insurance Bluffton, SC

This type of Medicare is free for most U.S. citizens. Medicare Part A helps older adults pay for care in a nursing facility, hospital visits, and some forms of in-home senior care.

This tier costs around $100 per month. It covers different outpatient services like lab tests, preventative care, doctor's visits, mental health care, clinical trials, and some forms of surgery.

This type of Medicare is most often called Medicare Advantage. This tier of Medicare allows seniors to choose health plans provided by insurance companies like Senior Medicare Insurance Services. Individuals who use Medicare Advantage commonly use Medicare supplement plan insurance to help pay for health care costs that Original Medicare won't cover, like coinsurance, deductibles, and copayments.

Sometimes called "PDPs," these plans add drug coverage to standard Medicare, some Medicare Private Fee-for-Service Plans (PFFS), some Medicare Cost Plans, and Medicare Medical Savings Account Plans (MSA).

The amount of money you pay for your health care depends on several factors, including:

At Senior Medicare Insurance Services, we offer a number of health insurance solutions for seniors. Two of our most used services include Medicare Advantage plan insurance and Medicare supplement plan insurance.

Senior Medicare Supplement Plan Insurance in Bluffton

Sometimes called Medigap, the purpose of Medicare Supplement Insurance is to help fill in "gaps" that might not be covered by Original Medicare. You can think of a Medigap policy as a supplement for your Original Medicare benefits.

Private companies like Senior Medicare Insurance Services sell this type of insurance right here in South Carolina. While Original Medicare will pay for much of the cost associated with health care services you need, it may not cover all of your expenses. Generally, Medigap policies do not cover costs stemming from eyeglasses, private-duty nurses, dental care, hearing aids, or long-term care.

Depending on the Medicare Supplement Plan that you choose, it may cover out-of-the-country medical services when you travel abroad. Assuming you have Original Medicare coverage, your policy will cover its share of Medicare-approved health care costs. Once your Original Medicare coverage reaches its limit, your Medigap policy will pay its share of the fees.

Our Medigap policies are drafted to meet your specific needs, and can help cover remaining health care costs such as:




Important Information About Senior Supplement Plan Insurance

To dispel some confusion, you should know that a Medigap policy is not the same as a Medicare Advantage Plan. The latter helps you receive Medicare benefits, while the former supplements the benefits you obtain through your Original Medicare plan. As you begin to explore Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans, keep the following important information in mind:

 Senior Medicare Plans Bluffton, SC

As you begin to explore Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans, keep the following important information in mind:

  • To qualify for a Medigap policy, you must first have Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B.
  • Payments on your Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan will be made to the private insurance company that you choose, like Senior Medicare Insurance Services. These payments are made every month and are paid in addition to the monthly payment you make for Medicare Part B.
  • If you are the holder of a Medicare Advantage Plan, it is illegal for an insurance company to sell you a senior Medicare Supplement Policy. If you plan on switching back to an Original Medicare plan, you may be able to purchase a Medigap policy.
  • If you have health problems as you age, your standardized Medigap policy is guaranteed to be renewable. So long as you pay your monthly premium, your insurance provider cannot cancel your policy.
  • Medigap policies only cover one person. If you have a spouse or family member that would like coverage, they must purchase a separate policy.
  • You may only buy a Senior Medicare Supplement Plan from an insurance agent that is licensed to sell them in your state. Senior Medicare Insurance Services has been licensed to sell Medigap policies in South Carolina for years. We have helped countless seniors get the Medicare coverage they need and continue to do so to this day.
  • In the past, Medigap policies were able to cover costs related to prescription drugs. As of January 1st, 2006, prescription drug coverage is not available on Medicare Supplement Plans. The best way to get coverage for your prescription drugs is to join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, often called Part D. Contact our office today to learn more about paying premiums on Medigap and Medicare plans.

For many people, the best time to buy senior Medicare Supplement Plan Insurance in Bluffton is during the 7 months Medigap Open Enrollment Period. This period starts the day you turn 65 years old, so long as you hold Medical Insurance (Medicare Part B). Generally, during the enrollment period, you get more policy choices and better pricing. Once the enrollment period is over, you may not be able to purchase a Medigap policy. Contact Senior Medicare Insurance Services today to determine if you qualify for a Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan.

Senior Medicare Advantage Plan Insurance in Bluffton, SC

A Medicare Advantage Plan is a kind of Medicare health coverage designed to provide seniors with all their Part A and Part B Medicare benefits. Many Medicare Advantage Plans will often include coverage of the following:

 Medicare Plans Bluffton, SC

In addition, most Medicare Advantage Plans give seniors coverage for their prescription drug needs. When you enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan through Senior Medicare Insurance Services, your Medicare benefits are covered through your plan and will not be paid for by traditional Medicare.

How Medicare Advantage Plans Work

Sometimes called "MA Plans" or "Part C," Medicare Advantage Plans are considered an "all in one" solution to Original Medicare. Senior Medicare Advantage Plans are only offered by private companies that are approved, like Senior Medicare Insurance Services. Seniors who enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan are still on Medicare. However, these individuals enjoy bundled plans that give seniors the benefits of hospital insurance (Medicare Part A), medical insurance (Medicare Part B), and sometimes drug coverage (Part D).

Medicare Advantage Plans are very popular because they cover all Medicare services and make life a little easier for seniors who have trouble understanding the nuances of Medicare.

When you contact Senior Medicare Insurance Services to choose your Medicare Advantage Plan, ask your agent about Medicare prescription drug coverage. Unless you already have drug coverage (Part D), you should seriously consider Part D coverage to help reduce costs associated with prescription drugs. You may also want to consider a Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan to help fill gaps in coverage that Original Medicare will not cover.

 Senior Health Insurance Bluffton, SC

Medicare Advantage Plan Insurance Rules

Medicare works by paying a set amount of money to the companies that offer senior Medicare Advantage Plan insurance in Bluffton. That money is used to pay for the care services that you need. Because Medicare Advantage Plans are different, you should expect out-of-pocket costs to vary depending on the plan you choose.

Different plans have different rules for how you receive services, such as:

  • If you must go to facilities, suppliers, or doctors that belong to your Advantage Plan for non-urgent and non-emergency care.
  • Whether you must get a referral to see a specialized doctor
 Healthcare Bluffton, SC

Companies that offer Medicare Advantage Plans must follow strict rules, which are set by Medicare and can change every year.

Paying for Your Senior Medicare Advantage Plan Insurance

How much you pay for your Medicare Advantage Plan varies and depends on a few different factors. In most cases, if you need a kind of medical service, you will need to rely on the doctors and providers in your plan's service area and network to pay the lowest amounts. In some cases, if you choose to use a service outside of your plan's network of coverage, you may have to pay out-of-pocket.

We encourage you to contact our office today to learn more about Medicare Advantage Plans, how they work, what your options are, and how often you will have to pay out-of-pocket, if at all.

 Burial Insurance Bluffton, SC

The Senior Medicare Insurance Services Commitment

Since our company was founded, we have led the insurance industry by providing our clients with the most valuable, helpful insurance solutions available. We are fully committed to our current and prospective clients by:

  • Choosing to focus on personalized, one-on-one service. When you work with our team, know that we will always design your health insurance plan with your best interests in mind.
  • Listening to your specific needs.
  • Responding to all inquiries and questions promptly and with a friendly attitude.
  • Providing you with the best customer service in the senior health insurance industry, whether you have questions or are ready to move forward with a Medicare plan.
 Medicare Advantage Bluffton, SC

Our mission is to help give seniors the best Medicare assistance available so that they may understand the Medicare process and make an informed health coverage decision. We have the knowledge, skills, and experience to assist anyone interested in Medicare. Our personal goal is to become a lifetime resource for our clients and give them greater confidence in choosing their insurance plans.

Latest News in Bluffton, SC

Bakery in Bluffton transforming itself into a dessert bar with evening hours

If you think the Bluffton bakery Cupcakes 2 Cakes looks charming enough to be in a Lifetime movie, you wouldn’t be alone. It seems a Lifetime film crew agrees.The bakery, located in Berkeley Place near Cinemark Theater off Buckwalter Parkway, was used as a filming location earlier this year for an upcoming television romance titled “The Royal Bake Off.”Here’s the plot synopsis from “The rivalries of baker...

If you think the Bluffton bakery Cupcakes 2 Cakes looks charming enough to be in a Lifetime movie, you wouldn’t be alone. It seems a Lifetime film crew agrees.

The bakery, located in Berkeley Place near Cinemark Theater off Buckwalter Parkway, was used as a filming location earlier this year for an upcoming television romance titled “The Royal Bake Off.”

Here’s the plot synopsis from “The rivalries of bakers Allie and Marily intensify when the royal prince of Samavia rolls into town looking for a royal baker. When Allie and the prince hit it off, it seems he might be in the market for more than just a terrific cake.”

While the release date for the movie hasn’t been announced, the owners of the Bluffton bakery are launching some romantic ideas of their own in the meantime, shifting the focus of their business from primarily a custom-order bakery to a dessert bar.

“Custom orders were great, but I wanted to increase the foot traffic coming into the building,” explained Erica Ashby of Okatie, who operates the business with her mother, Linda Ashby, and daughter, Kaiya Medrano.

“We’ve expanded our lines. We’ve expanded our hours,” Erica said.

Cupcakes 2 Cakes started as a home-based business then moved into a Berkeley Place storefront in late 2021. The bakery shut its doors temporarily in July before reopening Aug. 1 with a refreshed purpose.

“We made the decision to shut down and rebrand,” Erica said, “partly because I wanted to change the aesthetic and the feel of the business, and I wanted to change kind of the direction in which we were going.”

Now, Cupcakes 2 Cakes offers at least 13 flavors of cupcakes on any given day. Customers also can choose from 10 or so different pastries or order cake slices and even Jack Frost ice cream.

“Of course, we still have our decorated sugar cookies and then our gourmet cookies,” Erica said.

Everything is done in small batches, she explained.

“We don’t use a lot of dyes. We don’t use extracts and emulsions. We use natural flavorings for our cupcakes. ... We put out our pastries, and when we are sold out, we are sold out for the day,” she said. “We don’t keep anything in the freezer.”

The trio of bakers hasn’t stopped creating extravagant celebration cakes for birthdays, anniversaries and weddings, and they use an edible ink printer to create logo cookies for corporate events.

New to the menu, though, is an expanded lineup of drinks.

“We do more coffee, more tea, more funky drinks like our cotton candy lemonade, our Shirley Temple floats, our bourbon coffee.” The bourbon coffee is non-alcoholic; it uses coffee beans aged in whiskey barrels from The Grind Roasters.

Cupcakes 2 Cakes has started opening in the evenings on Fridays and Saturdays and soon will add a menu of special dessert and drink pairings available during that time.

“After the movies, couples, singles, family members, if they’re looking for something to do after dinner, after the movies, they can come in and grab a mocktail that we will set up to pair with a specific dessert so that it’ll be a type of an experience.”

Customers can expect the evening hours will feature the same creativity evident in the current cupcake menu.

“We try to do out-of-the-box flavors,” Erica said, listing habenero peach, elote street corn, or chicken and waffles among some recent offerings.

“We tend to do kind of a crazy flavor each week, and people love us for our creativity,” she said. Holidays are particularly fun because the bakers like to take a theme and run with it.

Right now, they are learning all they can about beverage pairings.

“We’ve been hiring mixologists and baristas, and we’ve been attending classes just to get a better understanding of the chemistry and everything that’s involved with actually making drinks,” Erica said. “We want to do something that’s the show, fancy cocktails, smoked cocktails ... creative stuff.”

What: Cupcakes 2 Cakes

Where: 108 Buckwalter Parkway, Suite 2C, Bluffton

Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; closed Sunday and Monday.

Phone: 843-415-5678


This story was originally published August 17, 2023, 4:00 AM.

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After Idalia in Beaufort, Jasper and Hampton: Rain totals, damage, power outage, more

Residents of South Carolina Lowcountry counties breathed a collective sigh of relief Thursday after Tropical Storm Idalia roared through on Wednesday, leaving flooded roads and some people without power.High winds and inches of rain from Idalia bombarded Beaufort, Jasper and Hampton counties Wednesday evening.The highest wind gust that w...

Residents of South Carolina Lowcountry counties breathed a collective sigh of relief Thursday after Tropical Storm Idalia roared through on Wednesday, leaving flooded roads and some people without power.

High winds and inches of rain from Idalia bombarded Beaufort, Jasper and Hampton counties Wednesday evening.

The highest wind gust that was seen in Beaufort County during the storm Wednesday was 66 mph, the National Weather Service reported, adding that wind speeds at Battery Point in the Beaufort area peaked at 57 mph, and the Beaufort Marine Corps Airspace reported wind gusts of 49 mph.

Rainfall in the Beaufort, Jasper, and Hampton County areas was measured at 2 to 8 inches, the NWS said.

As the inches of rain came down, nearby water sources swelled causing flooding in the Lowcountry.

Several roads and neighborhoods in Hampton County remained flooded Thursday, and Hampton County Emergency Management Director Susanne Peeples urged caution when traveling. The Savannah River area had a flood warning that extended into the afternoon.

Power outages in Beaufort, Jasper and Hampton counties

Tray Hunter, marketing director at Palmetto Electric, reported that around 9,531 Beaufort County customers lost power during Idalia. In Jasper County, 3,121 residents were without power and 1,628 were without power in Hampton County. Hunter said that Palmetto Electric employees were able to restore power to all customers just after midnight going into Thursday, Aug. 31.

As of 9:15 a.m., Peeples said that 319 Dominion customers around the county were still without power. Some of these are "major outages," said Peeples, and several roads need to be cleared in order to repair the outages, so it was likely to be midday or later before power could be restored to some areas.

At 7 a.m. Thursday, Dominion had more than 6,000 customers statewide without power, with 978 of those customers in Jasper County, Peeples said.

Jasper County shelter closes

Jasper County Emergency Services, in an email, said that it had closed the shelter early Thursday morning that had been opened as Hurricane Idalia bore down on the state.

"Jasper County Emergency Services is thankful for minimal impacts to our community," the release said.

The shelter had opened for those who needed a place to go during the hurricane. Volunteers worked Wednesday morning to close the shelter down with the help of several local agencies.

Schools and county office closings and reopenings

All Hampton County offices will reopen at 8 a.m. Friday. Hampton County School District (the public schools) were already scheduled to be closed for Friday and Monday due to the Labor Day holiday weekend, so they will reopen on Tuesday as scheduled.

Jasper County and Beaufort County schools will resume classes on Friday, Sept. 1.

When did Idalia make landfall?

Idalia made landfall at about 7:45 a.m. EDT Wednesday near Keaton Beach in Florida's Big Bend. The storm came ashore southeast of Tallahassee as a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph.

Idalia remained a hurricane as moved north, northeast into Georgia before hitting the South Carolina Lowcountry as a tropical storm.

How big was Idalia?

The storm spanned nearly 350 miles across, an area about the size of Colorado, which measures 380 miles across.

Satellite imagery captured Aug. 30-31, by NASA GOES East satellites, shows Idalia breaking up as it moved into the Atlantic. Hurricane Franklin can also be seen in the same imagery as the storms draw closer together.

USA Today contributed to this report.

Shop that freezes ice cream with liquid nitrogen opening first SC store. What to know

Have you ever had nitrogen ice cream?Chill-N Nitrogen Ice Cream is set to open its first South Carolina location later this year in Bluffton.The made-to-order nitrogen ice cream shop will be opening its new establishment at 65 Towne Drive, Unit 65 in Belfair Towne Village II in Bluffton.The current estimated opening date will be this fall.The new locale will be owned and operated by Derek Cohen, the new franchisee and retiring Marine Cor...

Have you ever had nitrogen ice cream?

Chill-N Nitrogen Ice Cream is set to open its first South Carolina location later this year in Bluffton.

The made-to-order nitrogen ice cream shop will be opening its new establishment at 65 Towne Drive, Unit 65 in Belfair Towne Village II in Bluffton.

The current estimated opening date will be this fall.

The new locale will be owned and operated by Derek Cohen, the new franchisee and retiring Marine Corps veteran, who recently purchased the rights to develop new Chill-N locations in the Hilton Head area and Savannah, Georgia markets, according to recent release by Chill-N.

Cohen’s immediate plans are to open one location in each market for a total of two.

“As I was looking for an ice cream brand that could service the more than two million visitors that the Hilton Head area receives each year, I was immediately blown away by Chill-N and its level of technology. I believe that Chill-N is leading the way in which all ice cream shops will eventually operate, and I couldn’t be more excited to be part of a brand that is pioneering the future of one our country’s most beloved sweet treats,” said Cohen.

“I’m looking forward to introducing Chill-N to the Bluffton community and growing my portfolio even further in the years to come.”

The new Bluffton Chill-N location will feature the brand’s newest prototype, which includes a new nitrogen system that has allowed the brand to reduce its investment to open a store by 20%, increased production efficiency, and enhanced the customer experience, according to the release.

Cohen will reportedly hire approximately 15 new employees for his first Chill-N shop in Bluffton and has plans to open a second shop in Savannah in the future.

How does Chill-N Nitrogen Ice Cream work?

Customers will have the ability to choose a portion size, ice cream base and then a flavor. Ice cream bases include milk, yogurt, or alternative milk option such as coconut, almond or oat.

Next, guests may choose to add on premium toppings including candies, cookies, cereal, fresh fruit, sauces, nuts, and Cuban coffee.

Each scoop of ice cream is hand-crafted to order, and flash frozen instantly using liquid nitrogen at -320° Fahrenheit.

The new Bluffton Chill-N locale will be open within the next several months and will operate Monday through Sunday.

The Best Things To Do In Bluffton, South Carolina

Claiming the moniker “Heart of the Lowcountry,” Bluffton is a small town chock-full of character, history, and hospitality. Whether...

Claiming the moniker “Heart of the Lowcountry,” Bluffton is a small town chock-full of character, history, and hospitality. Whether you're visiting for a day or a weekend, you'll find plenty to do. Here are some of our top picks.

What To Do In Bluffton

When you arrive in town, make a stop at the Cole-Heyward House, which is the official Welcome Center. The Heyward House Museum and Welcome Center is owned and operated by the Historic Bluffton Foundation, a nonprofit that is dedicated to the preservation of the culture and history of the town. You can tour the House Museum, which was built in 1841 by enslaved people. It is one of only eight antebellum homes that remain in the Lowcountry.

Three blocks from the Welcome Center, admire the 1857 Anglican church, The Church of the Cross. Federal troops burned Bluffton during the Civil War, but spared this building.

Walk along Calhoun Street, the center of the town's arts and cultural district, which is filled with eclectic galleries and specialty shops. The Society of Bluffton Artists (SOBA), showcases more than 100 local artists, and offers workshops and exhibits. Next door is Bluffton General Store, where you can purchase unique gifts and coastal collectibles.

Afternoon is the ideal time to get out on the water with a guided adventure with May River Excursions. Be on the lookout for Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, or set sail at dusk underneath the cotton candy pink South Carolina sunset.

Where To Stay

Staying in Old Town gives you easy access to explore the area by foot. The first and only boutique hotel in the neighborhood is Old Town Bluffton Inn. Owned by husband-and-wife team Vince and Danielle Harrison, the elegantly designed hotel has 14 rooms, custom-made furnishings and original art, plus a lovely pale pink parlor and breezy front porch.

If you're looking for a stay with lots of on-site activities and amenities, the luxury resort Montage Palmetto Bluff consumes 20,000-acres along the May River. From pro shops to a Paris market, paddle boarding to golfing, Montage crafts luxury experiences specific to each guest. For a romantic outdoor adventure, try the "Veuve Clicquot Picnic + Pedal," which includes bike rentals, your choice of five picnic basket menus (the "Day Date" includes canapés, tea sandwiches, and a variety of sweets to please every palate), plus a bottle of bubbly, of course.

Where To Eat And Drink

Fuel up for a day of fun at The Cottage Café where chef Leslie Rohland dishes out Southern cuisine with a twist. Begin with a mimosa (there are three types to choose from), then tuck into a Crabby Southerner—a fried green tomato, crab cake, and poached egg perched on an English muffin.

Another option is Corner Perk Brunch Café and Coffee Roasters where the hot coffee is freshly roasted and the Huevos Rancheros are nice and spicy. Order a Tiramisu Whipped Cold Brew to go as you stroll through Old Town.

No visit to Bluffton is complete without a visit to Bluffton Oyster Company. Since 1899, the family-owned business has been harvesting fresh Bluffton oysters, the star of the May River from September through May. Take home an order of oysters, shrimp, blue crab, or fresh fish, or devour the fresh catch at the family’s Bluffton Oyster Company Seafood Restaurant. Seafood doesn't get any fresher than this.

FARM serves dinner with an ever-changing menu celebrating the fishers, farmers, and other local producers behind its food. Sample roasted oysters with horseradish souffle, chives, and saltines; grilled snapper with butterbeans; or pickled shrimp. Whatever you choose, don't miss the brown butter cornbread. Although the menu has global influences, chef Brandon Carter says the region inspires his cooking. “It’s the way the salt air smells. It’s the oyster beds that you can see from the banks of the May River," he says. "There’s a real sense of place and community here that you don’t find very often these days.”

Likewise, the Waterson brothers at Burnt Church Distillery craft spirits to honor South Carolina’s history. Every bottle has a story, like the Sin Eater Cinnamon Smoky Whiskey. Dating back to the 1600s, Sin Eaters were social outcasts who took sins of others upon themselves.

Chefs and Lowcountry farmers come together to make one great dining experience at Nectar Farm Kitchen in Old Town. The fried bologna sandwich will take you back to your childhood, and the butter bean burger is like nothing you've ever tasted. The restaurant has a complete cocktail and wine list, and Nectar Brewing Company, a craft brewery located in the kitchen.

‘Nothing like it’: Okan serving up West African-inspired cuisine in Old Town Bluffton

A nationally recognized chef plus a prime location in Old Town Bluffton are adding up to the newest sensation on the Bluffton restaurant scene.Okan opened June 22 in The Bridge Collective at the intersection of Calhoun Street and Bridge Street. Helmed by chef Bernard Bennett, a James Beard Foundation semifinalist, and business partners...

A nationally recognized chef plus a prime location in Old Town Bluffton are adding up to the newest sensation on the Bluffton restaurant scene.

Okan opened June 22 in The Bridge Collective at the intersection of Calhoun Street and Bridge Street. Helmed by chef Bernard Bennett, a James Beard Foundation semifinalist, and business partners Matt Cunningham and Benjamin Carson, the restaurant offers African-inspired dishes that don’t typically grace Lowcountry menus.

“There’s nothing like it,” Cunningham said.

In fact, the menu at Okan includes a glossary for those unfamiliar with the cuisine. Still, the hope is that diners will be able to see the influences African culture and the slave trade have had on local foods.

“Rice is a big part of the story that we’re trying to tell,” Bennett told The Island Packet. “Rice was a cash crop, definitely during the slave trade. … Jollof rice, in my opinion, is the mother rice of several dishes — tomato-based dishes. Think of dishes like jambalaya, red rice, paella, all have this influence from jollof rice.”

Other menu offerings include bara, a flatbread popular in Trinidad, served with mango chutney; a fonio pilaf bowl made with a traditional West African grain; and obe ata potatoes inspired by a Nigerian red pepper stew.

Main courses like jerk goat served with carrots, duck and oyster gumbo, or cashew curry with lobster tails and pumpkin dumplings are fragrant and flavorful tributes to communal “hearth” cooking over a fire.

There are multiple vegetarian and vegan options as well, such as a hearty ital stew made with coconut milk and vegetables, or djon djon noodles, a Haitian dish that includes several different types of mushrooms.

Entree prices are generally in the $30-40 range, while shareable appetizers and sides are between $10 and $15. The restaurant has a bar with a menu of specialty cocktails, wine and beer.

While reservations aren’t required at Okan, they are highly recommended, Cunningham said. On Wednesday, which marked a week since the restaurant’s opening, there were 77 reservations on the books.

“It’s been packed,” Cunningham said. “The response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive.”

“I’m personally happily surprised that, even though we’ve just gotten started, we have already been seeing a lot of repeat guests,” said Carson.

Both men said it has been gratifying to be thanked for bringing a different kind of restaurant to Bluffton.

“An overwhelming response has been an excitement to have something new that pushes the boundaries and norms for cuisine and cocktails in the area,” Carson said.

Bennett grew up and went to school in Michigan but was working in Chicago during the pandemic when the restaurant industry took a hard hit, especially in the northern winter’s cold when it wasn’t comfortable for diners to sit outside. He made the decision to relocate to Bluffton because he had family here.

Okan, which means “heart and soul” in the Yoruba language of West Africa, is the culmination of a dream several years in the making. It started as a food truck last fall while plans were being laid and construction completed.

The food truck, which has been a popular addition to the Bluffton Farmers Market in Old Town and Starland Yard in Savannah, among other locations, is expected to return to a consistent schedule once the restaurant team is at full capacity.

In addition to Okan, The Bridge Collective is home to J Parker, a luxury apparel brand, and En Dentelle, a lingerie shop. Businesses yet to open include Fiddle and Shine, which sells home goods; a Bluffton Candles gift shop; and Collab, a clothing boutique. The development also includes 11 apartments, a mix of unfurnished long-term rentals, furnished short-term rentals and Airbnbs.

What: Okan

Where: 71 Calhoun St, Suite 100, Bluffton

When: 5 to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday; hours will be expanded

Phone: 843-949-3002




This story was originally published July 3, 2023, 10:07 AM.


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