More changes on Outer Banks restaurant scene as Blue Water Grill and Raw Bar has new owners

More changes on Outer Banks restaurant scene as Blue Water Grill and Raw Bar has new owners

April 8th, 2023

Another Outer Banks restaurant is beginning the 2023 season with new owners, after B.J. and Jessica Austin purchased Blue Water Grill and Raw Bar at Pirate’s Cove Marina on the Manteo causeway from the Shields family last month.

The Austins have a long history in the industry. Jessica worked at Sam and Omie’s in Nags Head for 18 years, while B.J. was a manager at Lucky 12 Tavern for 16 years.

After initially looking at making an offer on Lucky 12, the Austins learned that Blue Water was up for sale last year and they decided to act.

“We started this process in probably the middle of December, and then we closed on March 7,” Jessica said.

Jessica and B.J. Austin.

Being a native of Wanchese, Jessica said that growing up in a fishing family made taking over Blue Water just feel right.

“I’ve wanted to own a restaurant since eighth grade,” Jessica said. “Obviously my goal was to be my own boss at some point and not work for somebody else my whole life. And I’ve always wanted to be like the boss I was so fortunate to work for at Sam and Omie’s.”

“It feels like home…we liked the view…and it caters to everybody,” Jessica said. “But it’s right there on the water and with the charter fleet…I just like (Wanchese) is right there.”

The Austins said when they took over the staff wanted to stay on, and that they don’t feel they need to stray from what the Shields family had going at Blue Water.

“We’re very fortunate…we really don’t want to take anything away from it or change anything,” Jessica said. “Because if it’s not broke, it doesn’t need to be fixed.”

The lunch and dinner menus feature staple seafood dishes with a unique touch, as well as duck, pork, chicken, steaks, burgers and handhelds.

And being at Pirate’s Cove Marina, they still honor the long-standing tradition of cooking anglers’ catches straight from the dock.

Jessica said that the recent ownership transitions of so many restaurants and other businesses on the Outer Banks is a great sign for the future.

“Some people want to be done because they’re in their 60s, they want to retire…they’ve worked hard for 20 or 30 years,” Jessica said. “So now they want to be able to enjoy life travel, do whatever they might want to do.”

“It’s nice to see that the younger generation wants to get out and work and make stuff their own,” Jessica said.

Jessica said a great example of that is the recent purchase of Goombays Grille and Raw Bar by Tony Sipe and Chris Miller. Miller and B.J. Austin worked together for many years at Lucky 12.

Open seven-days-a-week from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., find out more at and check out the daily specials and additional info on their Facebook page.

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