The History of Shrimp & Grits


From Humble Beginnings to a Brunch Sensation


Shrimp, Sailors, and South Carolina

Shrimp and grits began as a simple dish, first appearing in South Carolina as a dish called breakfast shrimp. During prime shrimp season, many sailors began their day with shrimp cooked in butter and served over smooth, southern grits. Though the sailors were early adopters of this briny breakfast, it is now widely enjoyed as an iconic dish of the South.

Bill Neal’s Shrimp & Grits Recipe

shrimp and grits

In 1982, chef Bill Neal in Chapel Hill, North Carolina changed the shrimp and grits game forever. In the humble kitchen of a restaurant called Crook’s Corner, Neal created his own version of the Southern fare with two key additions: cheese and bacon. Of course, that made the dish even better! Customers flocked to try Neal’s creamy Parmesan and cheddar grits, topped with fresh shrimp and crispy pieces of bacon. He also incorporated ingredients like sautéed mushrooms to add a hearty finish to the dish.

In 1985, Craig Claiborne of The New York Times visited Crook’s Corner to try Neal’s creation first-hand. Claiborne was so impressed by the dish that he published Neal’s recipe in his widely read publication. The recipe spread like wildfire as every American took a try whipping up shrimp and grits in their own kitchen. Eventually, the restaurant community jumped on the trend and created new variations. With fresh shrimp and smooth grits, the dish provides the perfect canvas for culinary creativity. It is now one of the most popular meals in the South. Chef Bill Neal’s legacy lives on as the chef who brought charming southern fare into national prominence.

Fernandina's Shrimping History

shrimp and grits

In the early 1900s, a young Italian named Mike Salvador arrived in Northeast Florida. Salvador hailed from Europe, where the shrimp industry was already in full swing. He used his shrimp expertise to kick-start the shrimping industry in Florida. Using large nets, he would catch high volumes of shrimp and started a shrimping business in Fernandina.

When soldiers returned from overseas after World War II, they brought with them their newfound taste for shrimp. This rise in demand helped the shrimp industry take off and it has been thriving ever since.

At Timoti’s, we create our dishes with wild-caught shrimp to maintain the rich history behind this versatile protein.

Brunch with Timoti’s for Next-Level Shrimp and Grits

Join us for Sunday brunch at Timoti’s! We put our own spin on shrimp and grits with the Timoti’s brunch box. Enjoy tasty grit cakes and your choice of protein!

What’s in a Timoti’s Brunch Box?

1.    The Grits: Homemade creamy, cheese grits topped with panko breadcrumbs and smothered in a tomato and bacon gravy, finished with chives and shaved Parmesan cheese.

2.    The Protein: Try your brunch box with your choice of wild-caught shrimp, mahi-mahi, chicken or tofu. Your delicious and made-to-order protein will be served atop the grit cake and straight to your satisfaction.

3.    The Mimosa (coming soon!): Let's keep this one simple. Pour the champagne in the glass, add your favored amount of fresh Florida OJ, and slowly sip your way into a relaxing, care-free Sunday afternoon.

The Timoti’s take on shrimp & grits is available at all three locations every Sunday.  See you for brunch!