Owens’, oldest same-family owned restaurant on the Outer Banks, sold to Corolla restaurateurs

Owens’, oldest same-family owned restaurant on the Outer Banks, sold to Corolla restaurateurs

October 3rd, 2023

After 77 years of being in the hands of the same family, Owens’ Restaurant in Nags Head has been sold to new owners who run a restaurant in Corolla and have direct ties to Owens’ long history.

Owens’ was believed to be the oldest restaurant in North Carolina that’s been in the same family, at the same location, since it opened.

[courtesy Owens’ Restaurant]
The sale’s announcement was posted Tuesday morning on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Rick and Erika Gregory are owners of the Chicken Coop Diner in Corolla, and they plan on keeping the same traditions alive that have served diners for eight decades.

“Although it is sad that after four generations they decided to sell, it is bittersweet that we are able to have this opportunity,” said Rick Gregory, who worked as a chef at Owens’ years ago.

In 1946, Bob and Clara Owens relocated their restaurant from Manteo to the current iconic spot on the Beach Road near Whalebone Junction, according to the restaurant’s website, long before the Outer Banks became a vacation destination and fishermen and hunting parties made up the majority of customers.

Owens as it look not long after it opened. [submitted photo]
The menu has featured traditional Outer Banks seafood fare, include crabcakes using the same recipe created by Clara Owens, along with other “innovative, trend-setting menu items”.

“We are so excited to carry the torch of this legacy,” Gregory said. “We will continue to provide a dining experience that is second to none with the quality that everyone has come to expect and enjoy.”

The Gregorys plan on keeping the name and the décor the same, which features original memorabilia consisting of logbooks, photographs, and other historic artifacts of the U.S. Lifesaving Service, the forerunner of the U.S. Coast Guard.

“The majority of the staff have decided to stay with us,” Gregory said. “Our first day will be on Wednesday from 5 to 9 p.m.”

Gregory noted that the transaction is for the restaurant only, and did not include the adjacent Owens Motel.

This is a developing story, stay with WOBX for more details as they become available.

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