Pub boasts buccaneer theme|Waterfront eatery opens doors tonight with Pirate Club fete

Published 3:35 pm Friday, September 4, 2009

By By GREG KATSKI Community Editor
The Pirates Grill &Pub is calling all swashbucklers, freebooters, landlubbers and just-plain pirates to the Washington waterfront starting tonight with the Beaufort County Pirates Club’s official football-season kickoff party.
The restaurant, which opens at 6 p.m., will have similar pregame parties every Friday night before ECU home football games this season, said Jeff Hunnings, co-owner of the pub. At every pregame party will be Jeff Diamond, a disc jockey and pressbox announcer for ECU football’s flagship radio station, WNCT-107.9.
Hunnings said he and co-owner Billy Dunn are strong supporters of East Carolina University, with that support showing in the eatery’s layout.
The hallway leading from the main entrance to the dining area is lined with photos and drawings of legendary figures in ECU athletics. The dining area features a pirate-themed mural stretching from one wall to another, models of pirate ships and a giant pirate figure.
Hunnings, who also owns The Mecca, said he has wanted to put a pirate-themed pub on the Washington waterfront since moving to the area some 14 years ago.
“We always talked about having a place on the water,” Hunnings said regarding his and Dunn’s dream.
And the McQuay Building always seemed like an ideal location for the pub, he said.
“I’ve been watching the building for a long time, and it was finally available for lease,” Hunnings said.
The building was built at 1 Harding Square in 1973, according to Will Page, son of original owner Bill Page. The elder Page built the structure to house his consulting company, Page Management Group. When it opened, the building also housed the Mid-East Commission, Keech &Co. and a small restaurant called the Harding Square Coffee Shop. Coincidentally, the restaurant was in the same space that the pub is in, and it even had a little outdoor patio.
In 1988, the elder Page sold the building to Wriston McQuay, who renamed it, and Page Management Group moved to North Market Street.
The building sat vacant for some time before Hunnings and Dunn leased it early this year.
The pub took more than six months to build, with much of that time spent building the covered patio, inside bar and installing the wood flooring, Hunnings said. The city of Washington helped the co-owners comply with building and fire codes, he added.
“Everybody has been really supportive,” Hunnings said.
He hopes the idyllic location will bring plenty of Pirates supporters and customers.
“We’ve got, by far, the best view of the water,” Hunnings said. “That’s what makes the place.”
The view is best from the pub’s covered outdoor patio, which holds plenty of tables and sits about 40 feet off the waterfront promenade, Hunnings said.
Pirates fans can enjoy ECU football on one of three flat-screen TVs in the dining area, with two behind the bar and one adjacent to it. The restaurant will have special sports packages, including NFL Sunday Ticket and CBS College Sports. Hunnings said, besides the Pirates and other area college teams, customers can expect to see plenty of Carolina Panthers and Washington Redskins football and NASCAR races on the flat-screen TVs.
The pub’s menu will feature sports-bar fare, including seafood, sandwiches, starters, burgers and, of course, Pirate-purple chicken wings.
“You’ll get them if you ask for them,” Hunnings said about the wings.
The pub’s full-service bar holds liquor, imported and domestic bottled beers and wine by the glass. Smoking in the restaurant is prohibited.
Hunnings said his restaurant will be a paradise for Pirates fans, but fans of all teams are welcome.
“We want people to enjoy themselves and feel comfortable,” he said.
The pub already as at least one fan.
“I’ve liked it from the first day I walked in,” said Ross Dunn, 22, son of co-owner Billy Dunn. “I’ll probably be here a few nights a week.”