Outer Banks Epicurean
Amy Pollard Huggins has big ideas about food. That's why this self-described "foodie" plans to soon open Outer Banks Epicurean in the old Charlene's building along Colington Road.
"This is my new play ground and my new oyster," she said with a smile and firm handshake.
Outer Banks Epicurean will feature healthy dinners to go, Huggins said.
"We hope to provide a good, delicious, comforting meal six days a week," she said.
Outer Banks Epicurean has been a mobile business for the past five years, Huggins said, but now she's got room to spread with culinary wings and grow some roots. In the past, they've offered home cooking classes and 10 Tastes of the Beach gift bags.
Epicurean means those who love food and drink, she said. Huggins chose the name because she too is passionate about food although her thin frame doesn't reveal it.
In order to make Outer Banks Epicurean work, Huggins has established a number of revenue streams and hired a staff to help her with her dreams. The multi-disciplinary approach to her business could be the key to its success.
"We hope to have a creative vibe in here," she said. There will hot coffee available and wireless internet access.
Altogether, Huggins has the following services based out of the large building: dinners to go; cooking classes; local food tours; 10 Tastes of the Outer Banks; cakes, pies and sweets; wine, beer and juice; culinary art; vintage linen; etiquette lessons; Outer Banks Sea Salt Bar and free tastings daily.
She hopes to offer three different dinners a day and advertise them in the morning on her sign out front. As folks from Colington pass by on their way to work in the morning, they can check out the menu.
Then, they can call in their order and pick it up on their way home, Huggins said. All the meals are to go, Outer Banks Epicurean isn't a restaurant and therefore, there's no seating inside.
Several of her ventures that have already proved successful are 10 Tastes of the Beach and in-cottage, cooking classes.
Jeannie Maynard of the web services department of Village Realty in Nags Head, said vacationers love to have a chef from Outer Banks Epicurean come in and explain how to cook such meals as fresh Outer Banks seafood.
Huggins said that Kim and Charlie Stoltz of Ohio, who have rented Village Realty homes in the past, have already scheduled their third in cottage cooking lesson for early September.
Village Realty has also supported Huggins in the past by purchasing gift certificates for give-a-ways.
"We are giving away twenty-five dollar gift certificates via Facebook with no purchase necessary," Maynard said. "You do not have to be staying in a Village Realty house to win. We support local businesses and are always happy to help out someone with a new venture on the Outer Banks."
Huggins said families thoroughly enjoy having a chef come into their year round home or rental house and cook creative meals. All the while, they get to learn from the professionals.
Different chefs will cook different cuisines, she said.
"Most people want to learn about Outer Banks seafood," Huggins said.
And because the experience is typically multi-generational, sometimes the chefs swap great tips from seasoned cooks in the families.
In their new building, Outer Banks Epicurean will also celebrate cooking Outer Banks style with all local ingredients used in both lessons and back at the shop. The dinners to go will consist of a protein, starch and "veg," Huggins said.
"They'll be in the ten to twelve dollar range," she said. All customers have to do is heat them up when they arrive home."
The meals can also be complemented with sweets or a bottle of wine, Huggins said.
In the fall, she hopes to offer culinary weddings where couples can be married by an ordained chef.
"They can decorate their own cake," Huggins said.
Another future plan includes a culinary garden in the back of the restaurant. They will also look to bottle and can foods. There's talk of Pickle School, she said.
The culinary art will be both visual such as paintings of food and functional, such as pottery bowls and glass pitchers.
"[Blacksmith] Randy Hodges has his own oyster knives made from railroad spikes," she said.
Huggins would also like to have jewelry made by College of the Albemarle students on display in cases.
Last but not least is her Outer Bank Sea Salt production.
"We make sea salt - all different flavors and blends," she said. "Salt is fascinating, I feel like a scientist watching those crystals form - it's so fascinating."
And what's life for a "foodie" without a little salt.