Tybee Business Spotlight: Zunzibar
Zunzibar is an elevated beach-themed bar and restaurant that opened on Tybee Island in March of this year. It is the most recent expansion of the Zunzi’s brand, which originated in Savannah in 2005. From its humble beginnings on Savannah’s York Street, Zunzi’s has gained a cult following for its award winning menu and stellar service. Zunzibar is a continuation of the ‘SHIT YEAH!’ experience that the Zunzi’s brand is lauded for, serving up handcrafted cocktails, sandwiches, wings and all around good vibes.
Owner Chris Smith says that business has exceeded expectations since opening earlier this year.
“The Tybee Community has been extremely welcoming, and being a local restaurant in Savannah since 2005, we were able to tap into some nice brand recognition. . . Zunzi’s made a name for itself as a hole-in-the-wall takeout sandwich shop in Downtown Savannah. Then during COVID, our lease ran out and we had to relocate. The location at 236 Drayton Street was available, but it was too big for a Zunzi’s. I always thought that taking our award winning sandwiches and leading with an upbeat beach bar vibe would work. All of that led to the creation of Zunzibar. That location has been a huge success and it only made sense to take it to Georgia’s favorite beach. The former Gerald’s Pig & Shrimp location became available at the end of 2022 and we jumped right on it.”
Zunzibar is a welcome addition to Tybee’s diverse dining scene that imparts its own unique flavor.
“Tybee has a great restaurant and hospitality community, and I think we’re a little different with our offering. We’re a beach bar sandwich shop with wings, and we really try to be a fun experience. During our peak season, we have live music seven days a week. We’re really trying to focus on the guest experience. Our motto is ‘SHIT YEAH!’ so we want to make sure that every guest leaves saying exactly that. We’re constantly trying to exceed the expectations of our guests. . . Our vision statement is, ‘the restaurant business sucks, we’re here to change it,’” said Smith. “To us, that means constantly focusing on solving problems in our business that improve our team’s experience. When we do that, they can really focus on making our fan’s say ‘SHIT YEAH!’”
Another point of distinction is that Zunzibar offers happy hour twice daily with a golden hour from 5 – 7 p.m. and a late night happy hour from 10 – 11 p.m.
“That’s half off the entire bar and dollar wings for both happy hours,” Smith said. “It’s a way for us to take care of our locals, so they always know that from those hours, they can come in and have a great time and [avoid paying] the prices that people typically have to pay when they’re in tourist destinations.”
Zunzibar also runs a special promotion called 86-26 from 2 to 6 p.m. every day.
“86/26 is for the hardest working people out there…, those that work in food and bev. Between 2 and 6 p.m. everyday, anybody that works in food and bev. can come in and get 26% off their check for food and drinks, including alcohol. It’s just another way we can support the restaurant and bar community that works so hard,” Smith detailed.
These incentives are compelling reasons to get you in the door, but the stellar food and drinks will keep you coming back. Popular menu items include the Conquistador, a chicken sandwich topped with their signature Zunzi’s sauce and dressing, and the wings, which are marinated in peri-peri — an African hot pepper. When it comes to drinks, fan favorites include the Banana Hammock, which combines rum, coconut, banana and lime, as well as their Mango Tango frozen margarita.
“My favorite is the Perfect Pineapple. It’s our version of a painkiller, and it’s named after a hotel in the British Virgin Islands. It is also located where the painkiller was invented in Jost Van Dyke. Whenever I have one, it brings me back to that special place,” said Smith.
Beyond the flavorful menu offerings, Zunzibar boasts a vibrant atmosphere enjoyed by all who visit.
“[People] should dine at Zunzibar if they want to have a fun experience. Our tagline is “find your umbrella”. Every cocktail has a custom rainbow umbrella, and we’ve got the rainbow umbrellas in our logo and on the patio. We even have them for our guests to use whenever it rains. What we want to do is create the environment that you step into when you’re on vacation — like that first time you sit under that umbrella on the beach and you have your favorite drink, and you’re like ‘now I’m on vacation.’ We want to create that all the time. Whether you’re in downtown Savannah or on Tybee . . . it’s a vacation on-demand experience that we’re shooting for.”
Zunzibar is committed to delivering a superb experience every time, and they welcome feedback.
“We have a lot of guests that come through the doors and we want to know when we’re doing a great job, but we also want to know when we’re not. We believe in [fostering] a relationship with our guests, so please let us know. I promise we will make you say SHIT YEAH!” he added.
Zunzibar is located at 1115 US HWY 80 E. Visit zunzibar.com to learn more, and follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Tiktok @ZunzibarOfficial.