by Connie Leinbach
A test of a business’s value to its customers is when it’s not open, everyone hankers for it. That happened over the winter and spring as The Flying Melon restaurant, which had been along Highway 12 since 2006, decamped for the winter while a new building was built on Back Road.
“When is the Melon opening up?” was a refrain heard frequently in the spring as islanders watched the progress on the first new restaurant building in decades took shape.
June 13, it finally reopened, and “we’ve been busy ever since,” said Paula Schramel, who with her husband Michael, owns the restaurant, designed by Garick Kalna and built by Junior Perez. Inside, the design with several rooms and nooks makes it look larger although the total number of seats is the same. “The flow is better,” noted veteran server Lori Masaitis.
The new interior features a wooden spiral stairs that leads to an upstairs lounge where diners can have drinks or dessert. Although it is new, the spiral stairs were aged to complement the reclaimed maple floor throughout the building, Paula said. Islander Len Skinner did the “aging” work on the stairs and also crafted the new signs for the outside of the building.
Paula, who has an interest in antiques, scoured the Internet for old sinks and light fixtures such as chandeliers and sconces, all of which add to an old-world, yet hip, new ambiance. She is proud of the backlighted fleurs-de-lis emblems on the new bar in the entrance area. “Michael had to have fleurs-de-lis, which are the emblems of New Orleans,” she said about the theme of the restaurant and whence the Schramels hail. The menu and prices are the same, but the Schramels have added mixed drinks to the alcohol offerings.
While the soft green walls include the cut-out rooster partitions from their previous building, Paula is waiting to add art to the walls. “I have to think about that,” she said.
Outside there is a riot of plantings hugging the building and a watermelon patch/ front lawn, which Paula said will be great for receptions.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” gushed Joanne Keeler of Manteo, who waited with her husband Andy to be seated. “The interior is gorgeous. I just love the lighting choices.”
Keith Beaumont of West Chester, Pa., who is a sometime contractor, admired the architectural details of the cypress-clad building. “Inside upstairs there’s a little window that lets you see down into the dining area,” he said while outside the building looking over the details. He also noticed the copper in the outside railing which differs from the typical steel. Although the building is new, “it looks like it’s been here,” Beaumont said.
But the food from Chef Michael is what draws the crowds. “I missed this place,” noted Sunday brunch diner Catherine Farley. “The Flying Melon is always good. I’ve never had anything I didn’t like here.”
The Flying Melon serves a full brunch menu 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, and dinner from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. They also offer catering services.