A test of a business’s value to its customers is when it’s not open, everyone hankers for it. That happened over the winter and spring as The Flying Melon restaurant, which had been along Highway 12 since 2006, decamped for the winter while a new building was built on Back Road.
“When is the Melon opening up?” was a refrain heard frequently in the spring as islanders watched the progress on the first new restaurant building in decades took shape.
June 13, it finally reopened, and “we’ve been busy ever since,” said Paula Schramel, who with her husband, Michael, owns the restaurant, designed by islander Garick Kalna and built by islander Junior Perez. Inside, the design, with several rooms and nooks, conveys a larger feel although the total number of seats is the same. “The flow is better,” noted veteran server Lori Masaitis.
The new interior features a wooden spiral stairs that leads to an upstairs lounge where diners can have drinks or dessert. While they are new, the spiral stairs were aged to complement the reclaimed maple floor throughout the building, Paula said. Islander Len Skinner did the “aging” work on the stairs and also crafted the new signs for the outside of the building.
Paula, who has an interest in antiques, scoured the Internet for old sinks and light fixtures, such as chandeliers and sconces, all of which add to an old-world, yet hip, new ambiance.
She is proud of the backlighted fleurs-de-lis emblems on the new bar in the entrance area.
“Michael had to have fleurs-de-lis, which are the emblems of New Orleans,” she said about the theme of the restaurant and the Schramels’ hometown. The menu and prices are the same, but the Schramels have added mixed drinks to the alcohol offerings.
While the soft green walls include the cut-out rooster partitions from the previous building, Paula is waiting to add art to the walls.
“I have to think about that,” she said.
Outside there is a riot of plantings hugging the building and a watermelon patch/front lawn, which Paula said will be suitable for receptions.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” gushed Joanne Keeler of Manteo, who waited with her husband, Andy, to be seated. “The interior is gorgeous. I just love the lighting choices.”
Keith Beaumont of West Chester, Pa., who is a sometime contractor, admired the architectural details of the cypress-clad building.
“Inside upstairs there’s a little window that lets you see down into the dining area,” he said while outside the building looking over the details. He also noticed the copper in the outside railing, which differs from the typical steel. The building is new, but “it looks like it’s been here,” Beaumont said of the overall look.
But the food from Chef Michael is what draws the crowds.
“I missed this place,” noted Sunday brunch diner Catherine Farley. “The Flying Melon is always good. I’ve never had anything I didn’t like here.”
The Flying Melon serves a full brunch menu 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, and dinner from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Catering services are also available.
Ocracoke now has a food vendor specializing in North Carolina signature pork barbecue.
OINC’s (for Ocracoke Island, N.C.) opened in May next to the Slushy Stand and is offering authentic North Carolina barbeque, brisket, ribs, hog wings, Philly cheese steak sandwiches, as well as breakfast bagels.
“I just wanted something to do,” said owner Janille Turner, who with her husband, George, also owns the Topless Oyster restaurant which also offers pork barbecue along with many oyster dishes. “I wanted my own little food shack,” she continued. “Nobody else caters to barbecue, which is what people come to North Carolina for.”
All food is made from scratch, she said, such as the baked beans and potato salad, and there’s no vinegar in the barbecue sauce. OINC’s will also offer beer, to-go packs, live acoustic music, and catering for weddings and other special events.
The Homegrown Handmade artist co-op in the old Community Store that began last year with a one-day-a-week schedule has bloomed into a daily shop featuring more than 50 local artists enrolled but only about 30 showing one time. It is staffed by the artists and includes some vintage items as well.
“No yard-sale stuff,” said Rita Hahn, one of the jewelry artists.
For example, Carol Bullard, a native of Scotland, sells her photography and small, hand-stitched items, such as “tooth fairy pillows.”
“I just like tiny things,” she said about her intricate felt items.
In addition to these artists’ work, there are paintings, wood carvings, note cards, fabric items, bowls made out of reclaimed items and more.
Hours for the market are every other Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Among the other new and updated businesses on Ocracoke are:
El Faro Mexican Restaurant in the building that used to house the Flying Melon. “El faro” means lighthouse in Spanish.
Yum-Yum Coffee and Smoothies is located in a pink and green trailer along Highway 12.
Salt Creek Studio, which sells ceramics and pottery, along the Back Road.
Deep Blue Detailing offers mobile pressure washing and detailing for cars, boats, and buildings.
The Tee Shirt Corner in Spencer’s Market offers custom-printed T shirts. Although not a new business, Hard Core Tees beside El Faro also offers this service.
Eduardo’s Tacos got a new trailer in the spring and has expanded its menu.
The Beachcomber Camp Ground Gas Station received the taffy inventory from the now-closed Candyland. It also is offering deli sandwiches and soft-serve ice cream.
A few new business offer spa-type services. Jubal Creech, a licensed massage therapist, is offering chair massages at Angie’s Gym on Wednesdays and at Halo Hair Studio on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Seaside Serenity Spa, owned by Amy Gutierrez, also offers spa services at Halo. Julia’s Aesthetica, owned by Julia Chiles, offers a variety of therapeutic skin care and spa services.