When Jennifer and Chris Purcell decided they wanted to open a business, Firehouse Subs was a perfect fit because Chris is a fireman and Jennifer had extensive business experience as a store manager. They opened in December 2012, keeping up the chain’s tradition of honoring fire and police service in all of its restaurants.
The Purcells decorated the restaurant with firefighting memorabilia donated by the Elizabeth City Fire Department and Weeksville Volunteer Fire Department and included a mural depicting Elizabeth City as the “Harbor of Hospitality” with an Elizabeth City fire engine and a Coast Guard C-130 flying over the waterfront.
Dishes like the Hook and Ladder, the Engineer, and the Firehouse Hero all point to their authentic firehouse origins. Chris says the Smokehouse Beef and Cheddar Brisket sub is a local favorite. For the health conscious customer, all items come with a calorie listing.
Recent additions to the menu include six subs and four chopped salads under 500 calories.
Both of the Purcells are active in the local community. Chris serves on the executive board of the Chamber of Commerce and is involved with the Masonic Lodge and Children’s Hospital. Jennifer is on the board of directors of the local Red Cross office. The business also partners with local high school athletic departments and with Elizabeth City State University.
In addition, The Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation has donated a rescue boat, trailer, and U.S. Coast Guard kit worth more than $18,500 to the Elizabeth City Fire Department, greatly improving the department’s water rescue capabilities. The Foundation has also donated over $28,000 in equipment to local fire and police departments.
Mama Tee’s Diner
Tanya Spellman is a woman on a mission. She opened Mama Tee’s Diner after she told her husband that she believed God told her to open a restaurant. Her husband, pastor of Guiding Light Apostolic Church, said if that was the case, then she needed to open that restaurant.
Spellman always cooked at home and for church functions but had no previous restaurant experience. That lack of experience hasn’t stopped her, however, and she has been very pleased with the results of her efforts.
In its short time in business, Mama Tee’s has been active in the community. The diner has given discounts for Coast Guard Week and Elizabeth City State University’s Homecoming Week. It has sponsored a fundraiser for Sheep-Harney Elementary School and given a donation to the Northeastern High School Band.
When asked what makes Mama Tee’s unique, the mother of six said she knows from experience that it is “hard to take a family
out for real food and afford it without sharing portions.” Almost everything sold at Mama Tee’s is homemade. The signature dish is sweet potato biscuits – an item she had never baked before opening the restaurant, but an interested diner suggested adding them to the menu. She developed her own biscuit recipe through experimentation after many years of sweet potato pie baking.
Mama Tee’s is a family affair with Spellman handling baking and chef duties, her husband manning the grill, and her daughter and godson working the cash register. There are two additional employees from her church. When planning to dine at Mama Tee’s, keep in mind that they close after their popular lunch service because Spellman still has “to be Mama at the end of the day.”
No article about dining in Elizabeth City would be complete without mentioning Sidney’s Café and Bistro, located just two blocks from the waterfront, and Montero’s Restaurant, located just outside the downtown area. Both are members of the Downtown Business and Professional Association, a group of local independent business owners and managers working together to promote the beautiful downtown.
During a recent episode of Carnival Eats on The Cooking Channel, Sidney’s famous cheeseburger, bacon, and meatloaf panini was made step-by-step on camera and touted as one of the highlights of the 2014 N.C. Potato Festival. Highlighting a breakfast menu with eggs, pancakes, and cinnamon French toast made with sourdough bread, Sidney’s also offers a full lunch menu with a variety of soups and sandwiches. In addition, patrons of downtown evening events such as First Friday ArtWalk can enjoy dinner on Thursday and Friday when the restaurant is open with specials such as Chicken Marsala and crab cakes.
507 E. Main Street in the Virginia Dare arcade
The Pines Bistro
With local fare like oysters and fried chicken, how can a restaurant go wrong? Located on the grounds of The Pines at Elizabeth City, The Pines Bistro is open to the public and offers a diverse menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – all while enjoying the view of the golf course and putting green.
Executive Director of the club Andrea Woodell says people come to the Bistro just for the fried chicken and its “southern country” atmosphere. Wednesday is seafood night which Woodell says is very popular because the Bistro is “the only restaurant in the area that serves Oysters Rockefeller; oysters really pop here during the oyster season.” She-crab soup, fish, and soft shell crabs round out the seafood offerings on Wednesdays.
Burger lovers can order their burgers by the ounce on Friday’s burger nights. A toppings bar allows diners to prepare their burgers just the way they like them.
The dining, banquet, and pool facilities are popular rental venues for weddings and holiday parties. The 2014 season saw bookings at the facility almost every weekend from April through December.
In 2015, the facility will get a facelift with the installation of new carpet, flooring, and chandeliers in the ballroom. The Bistro renovations will complement those begun by owner Bill Taylor when he purchased the club in 2004. At that time, the golf course was redesigned by Tom Clark of Ault and Clark Associates to meet the U.S. Golf Association specifications.
Not far from the hub of downtown is another local’s favorite: Montero’s. This well-appointed private residence was converted into a restaurant and now provides both private dining and larger public dining and meeting spaces. Owners Andy and Karin Montero are as well known in the community for their fundraising activities for local schools as for their food. Montero’s menu includes a variety of salads, sandwiches, appetizers, and entrees designed to help guests “Meet. Eat. Celebrate.”
414 N. McArthur Street, monterosrestaurant.com