After hitch-hiking to Savannah from Jesup, GA, Carey Hilliard opened his first restaurant in 1960, in a closed National Root Beer stand building on Skidaway Rd. and Sunset Drive. This was Carey’s second attempt at the restaurant business. Two of his brothers Dick, and Bill, had already established restaurants. Dick had a chicken place in Jesup and Bill had a seafood restaurant and bar on Victory Drive. After failing the first time, Carey went to work as an hourly laborer at the sulfur plant, American Cyanamid that had opened in 1955 (formerly known as Kemira, now owned by Kerr-McGee).
In 1960, he tried selling barbecue hams again, and this time stayed in business.
In 1971, when most drive-in restaurants were closing, Carey built his second restaurant embracing the drive-in and to-go service, opening on Waters Ave. Three years later, in 1974 he opened the Hwy 80 location, with seating for up to 200 people on the West side of Savannah in Garden City. In 1976, he opened a similar store on Abercorn St. in a farm field. At this time, Abercorn ended abruptly where the Savannah Mall is now. It was all wooded.
During the “Charleston years” Carey opened two restaurants. One on Rivers Avenue in North Charleston in 1979, and the next on Sam Rittenburg Blvd. in 1982. After Carey and his wife Kathleen, tragically died in a plane crash in 1982, their son, Tim took the reigns and continued to expand in the Savannah area. He built another restaurant on the West side of Savannah on Hwy 21 in 1996, and then a decade later built the most recent Pooler location. Carey Hilliard’s continues to focus on its family values and appreciates all its loyal customers!
In 2012 Carey Hilliard’s was voted Savannah’s Best Family Restaurant.