Jerniman’s opened their restaurant on Friday. Photo: C. Leinbach

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By Connie Leinbach

Ocracoke got a new eatery on Friday when Jerniman’s opened their restaurant inside the refurbished gas station building along Irvin Garrish Highway.

Clayton Jernigan waited on customers and bused tables while his business partner, Drew Batts, cooked in the refurbished kitchen.

“This is what I’ve always wanted to do,” Batts said on Saturday as the burgers and barbeque sizzled.

The grill has been more than a year in the making.

“We bought (the property) Aug. 1 (2019) and the building was ours on Sept. 1,” Batts said in an interview on Monday.

Then Hurricane Dorian hit Sept. 6, inundating and upending the island.

Since then, Jernigan and Batts have had to rebuild their building and the campground from the devastating flooding just like the rest of the island.

For now, the restaurant has in-person seating at only five four-seat tables and five seats at the bar, Batts explained. That’s because of septic system restrictions, he said.

“What we serve we can get people in and out fast,” he said. Those menu items are hamburgers, hot dogs, fried and barbecue chicken, barbecue, side dishes and more.

As it gets going, Batts said he will have specials, such as fried pork tenderloin or steaks.

Drew Batts is the head cook in Jerniman’s. Photo: C. Leinbach

Lots of meat. Well, it’s a “man thing.”

Batts said he wanted to have a place where you could use your “man card,” and the name reflects that: half of Jernigan’s name and “man card,” or Jerniman’s.

Batts got the cooking bug when years ago he worked at Parker’s in Wilson, known for its barbecue.

“I got a lot of practice eating,” he quips about graduating to cook, but then explains that he did a lot of catering work and kitchen work with them. “I like cooking for lots of people,” he said. “It’s like cooking for friends. I like to be busy.”

Hungry islanders and visitors are encouraged to call for take-out orders for breakfast, lunch and dinner at 252-928-0308.

The lunch and dinner menu is the same and the breakfast menu offers “a big country breakfast,” steaks, pancakes, biscuits and gravy and more.

Jerniman’s is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 a.m. and Sunday at 8 a.m., All until about 7 p.m. The restaurant is closed Wednesdays.

When they get their beer license, they will have an appetizer menu from 7 to 11 p.m.

Jerniman’s has two pool tables. Photo: C. Leinbach

As soon as the easing of COVID-19 restrictions allow, the Jerniman group will open “The Breeze” nightclub and bar next door in the former Gaffer’s.

Jamie Jernigan, Clayton’s wife, said that they want to be open 100 percent—not partially– and hope that may be by the end of April when the band Steel Country Express is booked for that night and April 24.

Since it will be designated as a private nightclub, all those entering will have to join for $1.

“We will have your ID on file,” she said. So patrons won’t need to remember their cards.

The Breeze is named in honor of Jamie’s father who for many years had a bar of the same name in Wilson.

And the signature drink will be “The Breeze,” she said, also a drink her father created.

“It tastes like cotton candy,” she said.

It, as well as all drinks made with mixes will be made with home-made juices, no pre-made mixes.

“Our main goal is to keep a safe place for everyone,” she said. “Keep it classy and in a safe environment.”

Hours will be 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

The Breeze nightclub hopes to open by the end of April. Photo: C. Leinbach
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  1. These two men and there families have placed there bet on Ocracoke in a big way. Taking a big risk to build there business on this tiny sandbar. I hope everyone will support there gamble and reward there hard work. Looking forward to helping support this new business on my next visit. I don;t know either one of you gentlemen…but I am truly proud of you !!

  2. Great news! Not only is another business open on Ocraoke, but BBQ has come to the island. Always liked Parkers when we passed through Wilson…welcome, y’all.

  3. Wow! What a change. Congrats to them! What a long struggle they have had, but hopefully all their hard work will start paying off. Looking forward to checking it out in September! Thanks for the update, Connie!

  4. Nice to have another restaurant in Ocracoke but it’s a “man thing”? Bring your “man card”? What’s that’s supposed to mean? If you’re not pumped up with testosterone you can’t eat there? Just wondering…

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