The Quarterdeck Restaurant in Frisco is a family style restaurant in every sense.
Originally called the Old Lighthouse Restaurant, the building was located in Buxton, not far from Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, and it was owned by Russell Ochs, a U.S. Navy veteran, and his wife, Antonietta “Gina” Ochs.
The couple and their two sons, Edwin and John, set about creating one of the island’s most popular restaurants.
In 1978, the building was moved to its present location in Frisco, where its diners enjoy great meals and spectacular views of Pamlico Sound, and its name was changed to Quarterdeck Restaurant.
“My great-uncle Russ was a boatswain mate in the navy, and the quarterdeck is the main ceremonial and reception area on the boat,” says Tiffany Bock, owner of the Quarterdeck Restaurant. “My great-aunt Gina was born and raised in Naples, Italy, where my great-grandfather also had a restaurant, so I think it is in my genes. I have my heart in it.”
When Russell Ochs died on June 26, 1985, at the age of 61, his wife and sons carried on the business.
Bock, who says she “grew up at the restaurant,” graduated from Cape Hatteras School (class of ’96) and attended the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where she earned a teaching degree in 1999. After graduation, she returned to the island and accepted a job teaching in the local school district.
When her Gina Ochs decided to sell the restaurant in 2015, Bock’s life trajectory changed.
She purchased the business and renovated the eatery.
“At the time, I had been teaching high school chemistry here at Cape Hatteras Secondary School for a couple of years, and I chose to come back and carry on the legacy,” she says. “We have been serving folks for over 50 years, and we now have a fully remodeled sound and sunset view. We aren’t fancy. We are family.”
The traditional menu includes the locally caught seafood, steak, chicken, pasta, burgers and homemade desserts.
“We are known for our crab cakes, stuffed flounder and homemade pies,” Bock says. “We have a great loyal customer base and also have a huge visitor base; people who come back year after year.”
Like near all restaurants on the island, she says, the Quarterdeck faces two challenges: finding enough seasonal help and escaping the wrath of Mother Nature.
On Oct. 3, 2016, the latter of the two took a big bite of the business, when Hurricane Matthew through the Outer Banks.
“We had nearly three feet of Pamlico Sound flooding. The walk-in that was attached to the building was washed apart, exposing a four-foot opening that allowed even more water to flow through,” she says.
The building was constructed in the 1950s, and this was only the second time the building had flooded, the first being Hurricane Emily in 1993, Bock says.
“We had to tear basically everything out, down to the floor joists, and lost all of our equipment and furniture. So, with the repairs came a remodel, which now includes a beautiful sound side sunset view.”
The storm caused $200,000 in damages and repairs took more than eight months to complete.
Bock reopened on June 27, 2017. Then, in the pre-dawn darkness of July 27, a transmission line was cut during construction work on the new Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, which carries Hwy. 12 over Oregon Inlet between Bodie and Hatteras islands. The incident knocked out electricity to Hatteras and Ocracoke islands, and tens of thousands of tourists were evacuated. It took eight days to fully restore power.
But, the Quarterdeck Restaurant is resilient, and Bock and her staff carry on.
After all, just as is said about serving in the U.S. Navy, so to it can be said of operating the Quarterdeck Restaurant: “It’s not just a job. It’s an adventure.”