Enjoy the best of the Lowcountry at The Rusty Rudder- North Mt. Pleasant’s neighborhood Restaurant and Bar.
The Rusty Rudder Mount Pleasant serves chef crafted Lowcountry cuisine offering something for everyone including house smoked BBQ, award winning wings, pasta, local seafood, oysters, steak and more. Whether you’re looking for a delicious dinner, happy hour, live music, a friendly place to catch a game or just a great family friendly atmosphere The Rusty Rudder is your go-to spot in Mt. Pleasant.
And don’t forget our awesome outdoor patio and tiki bar equipped with fans and heaters, outdoor fireplace, oyster pit, farm tables, lounge seating, corn hole and TVs.
Operating owners Brian Johnston and Eric Paul opened the Rusty Rudder Mt. Pleasant in summer of 2014 with the idea of creating not only a restaurant that utilized the best flavors of the Lowcountry, but also one that focused on community.
“We have always wanted to create a place where the customers take ownership of it. The relationships we built with my patrons in Lake Norman over the past 15 years of business, are amazing, and I don’t expect anything less here,” said Brian Johnston, part-owner.
Whether you’re a local or just passing through The Rusty Rudder Mt. Pleasant gives you a true laid back local experience.
Brian Johnston ~ Co-Owner
Brian, along with his business partner Eric Paul, opened the first Rusty Rudder location in 2002 in Lake Norman, North Carolina. Being a North Carolina native Brian grew up spending much time visiting Charleston and he always felt it would a great place to open another establishment. When the idea to open a second Rusty Rudder presented itself in 2014 Brian jumped at the opportunity to join the food and beverage community in the greater Charleston area. It also allowed him to be closer to his parents, brother, sister in-law and two nieces. “I was excited to be closer to family and to pursue all the opportunities with local seafood and lowcountry ingredients that the Charlotte area didn’t have access to,” said Brian.
Having built the Lake Norman Rusty Rudder from the ground up- choosing décor, managing renovations, hiring, being on the line, dish washing and everything in between- Brian understood the community effort that opening a restaurant takes, and knew Mt. Pleasant was a perfect place, to not only do business, but to be a part of the city as a whole.
“We have always wanted to create a place where the customers take ownership of it. The relationships I built with my patrons in Lake Norman over the past 15 years of business, are amazing, and we don’t expect anything less here,” said Brian.
Brian was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and graduated from Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. Brian returned to Charlotte after college where he managed citywide events for Charlotte Center City Partners. Through networking and new contacts Brian’s interest in opening a local restaurant grew, and soon became a reality. Brian lives in North Mt. Pleasant with his girlfriend Caroline and their two dogs Bailey and Coozie. When he is not working the line, supporting local community efforts or saying hello to patrons, Brian enjoys football (he’s an avid Carolina Panthers fan), fishing, golf, attending concerts and spending time with his friends and family. When asked what his favorite Rudder menu item is Brian notes, “Everything is excellent of course. But I would have to go with the wings or shrimp and grits.”
Eric Paul ~ Co-Owner
Eric’s passion for the food and beverage industry developed at a young age. Coming from a family of restaurateurs, Eric grew up working in various roles at the family establishments and fondly remembers time spent in the kitchen cooking beside his mom and grandmother.
Eric is originally from Pittsburgh but claims the Carolinas as home having moved to Raleigh, NC as a teenager. Eric attended Johnson and Wales University in Charleston, SC where he obtained his Culinary Arts Degree. After school Eric returned to North Carolina to be closer to family where he utilized his culinary knowledge on the business side of the industry holding management positions at Jimmy V’s and Tony’s Oyster Bar in Cary, NC.
In 1999 Eric moved to Charlotte, NC to open a downtown location of Tony’s Oyster Bar where he met his current business partner Brian Johnston. Together they opened the first Rusty Rudder location in 2002 in Lake Norman, North Carolina.
“Building a restaurant from scratch was an amazing, and exhausting, experience, “ laughs Paul, “Even with over a lifetime of food and beverage familiarity starting a new restaurant has its curveballs. We couldn’t have done it without such an amazing team, and I am proud of how far this journey has taken me.”
When the opportunity arose in 2014 to open a Rusty Rudder location in Charleston, SC Eric didn’t hesitate. Eric has always been a fan of the “strong sense of community and charitable back-bone of the Lowcountry” and knew it was the perfect place to create a new Rudder family.
Eric returned to his college town in 2016 and currently resides in North Mt. Pleasant. When not in the kitchen, in the office or chatting with customers Eric enjoys watching football and cheering on the Carolina Panthers, traveling with family and partaking in the rich culinary and cultural history of Charleston.
Mike Eckert ~ Head Chef
Chef Mike Eckert comes to the Rudder Family from The Boathouse at Breach Inlet where he served as Executive Chef. Chef Eckert moved to Charleston from Detroit, his hometown, in 2008 where he states he ‘immediately fell in love with the landscape and culture of the Lowcountry.”
Chef Eckert attended the Culinary Institute of Charleston and has over 10 years of experience in high volume restaurants including a four-year run as Junior Sous Chef at Morgan Creek Grill. His passion for the culinary world began as a child cooking with his mother and grandmother, there wasn’t ever a question of what he wanted to do.
His experience has cultivated a love for sustainable practices where he has come to specialize in whole fish and local produce sourcing. Chef Eckert states, “Sustainable practices are extremely important to the longevity and success of our industry.”
Chef Eckert enjoys experimenting with ways to liven up fresh whole fish, especially the art of roasting. His favorite fish? Wreckfish. “Fried, grilled or blackened,” he’ll take it any way it’s served. While the world of fresh seafood has a special place in his heart he admits he “has a soft spot for the Rusty Rudder’s Charleston Hot Chicken sandwich”.
When not cultivating his art and love for sustainable, local foods, Chef Eckert enjoys time with his long-term girlfriend, and Rudder GM, Kayleigh and their little girl Charlotte (or Charlie for short), offshore fishing, cheering on the Detroit Lions and Red Wings, the University of Michigan and cooking with friends and family.
Kayleigh Lauffer ~ General Manager
Kayleigh, a true Charleston native, joined the Rudder family in Summer of 2017. In addition to years of Food & Beverage involvement she spent 18 months as the General Manager at Morgan Creek Grill before starting at the Rusty Rudder.
Kayleigh’s favorite Rusty Rudder menu item? The Brisket Salad. Hands down. “The Brisket is smoked for 18 hours and topped over fresh bold flavors tossed in a smoked pepper vinaigrette. It’s delicious,” notes Kayleigh.
When not immersing themselves in the world of food and beverage Kayleigh and her long-term boyfriend, Mike (our own Executive Chef), enjoy being new parents to their little girl Charlotte (Charlie for short), the Lowcountry’s many beaches, spending time with family and enjoying the entertainment of their two kittens, Remy and Birdie.