Sam & Omie’s Celebrates 80 Years!

 In Coastal Lifestyle, Food & Dining, OBX Locals

There will always be those favorite Outer Banks establishments that we are drawn to for their authentic island feel and hospitality, their past, for the way they engage all of our senses when we walk through the door.

For me, one of these treasured places is Sam & Omie’s Restaurant at Whalebone Junction in Nags Head. If you’ve ever eaten here, you understand what I am getting at.

Aside from its great food, the restaurant –with its 80 years of rich history – actually makes me wish I were a fisherman sometimes. It conjures up images from Moby Dick, of salt spray, old fishing boats and stormy seas each time I sit down at one of their tables.

Sam & Omie’s seems to hold within its walls the tales of weathered fishermen from long ago. Eighty years later, it is still a popular spot among local fishermen, who gather to swap fishing stories and grab a hot breakfast before heading out on the boats.

Not surprising considering a fishing captain, Sambo Tillett, first opened the beach road restaurant in 1937.  It’s been based around great food, fishing and the sea ever since. After all these years, it has still maintained the same vibe, the same feel with their popular logo, “Everyone should believe in something, I believe I’ll go fishing.” and old fishing photos that line the walls.

When Tillet first opened his restaurant, originally called Sambo’s, the bulk of his customers were commercial fishermen, who would come by for an early morning breakfast before heading out on the boats and then again in the evenings for a few beers and to exchange fishing stories.

It wasn’t long after the charter fishing industry got underway in the late 1930s that Sambo began booking charters for himself and his friends right from the restaurant.

The road from Whalebone Junction to Oregon Inlet was built in 1951 and by 1955, the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center opened under Sambo’s brother, Toby.  About the same time, the name of the restaurant changed to Sam & Omie’s to include Sambo’s son, Omie. Charter bookings continued at both locations until the early 1960s, when Sambo ended the bookings at the restaurant.

Sambo eventually sold the restaurant to local Tom McKimmey so he could dedicate his time to being a charter fisherman. In 1971, the Waits sisters purchased the restaurant. But through all those changes, some things always stay the same at Sam & Omie’s – like their sausage gravy over biscuits and she crab soup just to name a few. 

After all, why change a great thing.

Happy 80th Anniversary Sam & Omie’s!

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Comments
  • Michael Rose
    Reply

    Sam & Omie’s brings a happy tear when when the screen door swings open.

    At 57, I have had many a pre-dawn breakfasts before charter fishing trips and countless other meals with many loved ones who now live only in my heart.

    Sam & Omie’s certainly serves up a fine meal and soulful nourishment. I love the spirit of the folks that continue to feed both…you are blessing many.

    Happy Birthday and thank you!

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