Dynamic Southern Cuisine & Hospitality
Duck was still a relatively sleepy little village when “those two guys” opened the Blue Point in the summer of 1989. Only a few years before, Route 12 ended at the county line. The dunes were fairly heavily sprinkled with cottages, but mostly of the “salt box”, family variety.
The Northern Beaches of Dare and Currituck Counties have experienced continuous growth over the past 25+ years. The Village of Duck has, by chance in some cases and force of will in others, retained its barefoot charm and “sleepy” attitude.
Those Two Guys, Inc. are John Power and Sam McGann, high school friends from Norfolk, Va. Sam is a graduate of Norfolk Academy and Lynchburg College. After college, cooking in a neighborhood restaurant in Norfolk gave him the motivation to pursue a career in the field. He went on to graduate from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI with a degree in the Culinary Arts.
John, a graduate of Maury High School and Hampden-Sydney College, fell into the business by tending bars all around Norfolk and Va. Beach during and after college. While endeavors outside of the restaurant business were pursued before opening the Blue Point, John always came back to the business, finally deciding that it suits him.
A circuitous route brought John to Duck where he picked up a bartending job in 1988. He will admit that it was not foresight of the tremendous growth that lay ahead for the Village, but more of a feeling that this was where he wanted to be. After a few months in Duck, John knew he wanted to open a restaurant here. Knowing little about the kitchen—one person came to mind as a partner: Sam McGann. John brought Sam down on a February night to see a location he had found. Gale force winds howled across the Currituck Sound and the rain was turning to sleet. Not a soul was around. That night at John’s family cottage in Carolina Dunes, Sam did his best to convince John that he was nuts.
A return trip to the Waterfront Shops the next day proved pivotal. As often happens on the Outer Banks, the weather was dramatically different from the day before—blue sky, calm waters and 60 degrees. (Still nobody around, though.) And Sam’s opinion turned around like the weather had. The partnership began.
The Blue Point began life on July 15, 1989 with 50 seats and a 6 seat oyster bar (hence the name!). Twelve of the 50 seats were under an awning on the front deck. The others and the bar seats were tightly packed inside the small “diner-style” room with the kitchen attached to the bar and very little of the restaurant work being done outside the sight and hearing of the customers.
Within weeks of opening night the lines to get in the Blue Point for dinner were longer than many would wait. A 2-hour wait for dinner became common. While there is much to be said for being in the right place at the right time, it is equally important to have the right team with the right formula.
To accommodate its quick takeoff some changes had to be made. First to go were the oysters—too much room, too much time. Next to go was the wait list—only reservation could work for the increasingly familiar and loyal guests. Lastly went the outdoor dining—too weather dependent, needed the seats available all the time. So this was the incarnation of the Blue Point that entered its second season in 1990 and carried on for the next 17 years.
By 2006, however, the facility and the staff were exhausted and gasping for breath. The Blue Point had reached a breaking point and could not keep up with the expectations of its loyal guests, now friends, nor John and Sam’s expectations of themselves.
In November 2006 the Blue Point closed for a complete renovation/expansion and reopened in the Spring of 2007 with twice the number of seats and three times the amount of space. Gone was the black and white floor, the glass brick, the Formica tabletops and the sagging floor. In are warmer and more natural colors and textures, wood, cork, slate. Also in is a larger bar, much more comfortable dining room and room to do what we really want to in the kitchen. A trellised deck and bar was also added on the sound.
Never has the Blue Point rested on its good reputation but has continued to evolve and work harder at offering a truly unique and rewarding experience. Sam and John are still at the helm of the restaurant and have not wavered in their commitment to it. Also working side by side with them are many people who were there for a long time at the first incarnation, and two that were there with Sam and John on the first night, July 15, 1989.