Does Morehead City have a restaurant problem?


MOREHEAD CITY, Carteret County - The recent closings of Ruby Tuesday and Outback in Morehead City prompted some viewers to e-mail us to find out if this is part of a bigger problem in Morehead City. We dug deeper and found the opposite to be true.

Ruby Tuesday shut down about 100 of its restaurants around the nation, including the one in Morehead City in mid-February. Then about a week later, Blooman Brands shut down 1,500 of its restaurants around the country, including the Outback Steakhouse on Hwy. 70. Both buildings have been stripped of all signage.

But when we checked with city officials, we found four new restaurants are slated to be opening in Morehead City in the next few months. That includes Moore's BBQ, which is accepting job applications. Cook Out, Zaxby's and another Wendy's are also in the works.

Existing city data shows 96 full service restaurants in operation in the city of 9,200 people.

"Morehead City is no longer just a fishing community, it's becoming a tourism and retirement community," said Lee Hinson with the Downtown Morehead City Revitalization Committee. "And with that we are bringing in more restaurants."

"I think the Morehead City economy and eatery establishment is plentiful and on the rise," said Lisa Rueh, executive director of Downtown Morehead City Revitalization. "You have lots of choices, everyone has their favorites."

Rueh is also proud that Evans Street in Morehead City is the North Carolina American Planning Association "Great Main Street Award." Evans Street is home to longtime business like the Sanitary.

"We have a lot of local restaurants that have been here for many years and have learned to adapt," Dean Vick said. "Sanitary opened in 1938, they recently added a deli and outdoor pub, which generates new business. Same things with Captain Bills, someone took it over and continues the tradition."

"They are coming here for our local restaurants," Hinson said. "We have a tremendous organization, called Carteret Catch. Boat-to-table is a popular concept here."

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