Rich history melds with new porch

Published 9:16 pm Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ben and Amy Johnson of The Front Porch and Farm Boys Restaurant in Belhaven share a moment with their customers. (Submitted Photo)

The next time you are in downtown Belhaven or anywhere nearby, you might want to take a detour to feast on the legendary beef sandwich offered at Farm Boys Restaurant.

“That’s what they’re known for. Everybody who comes to town comes here. People talk about that beef sandwich,” said Farm Boys patron Greg Satterthwaite.

“The beef sandwich is really good. I haven’t eaten anything bad here,” echoed Shaun Hopkins.

Don’t hesitate to stop in after 6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays either, when The Front Porch, an addition to the eatery, opens for a full-service dinner and an evening of relaxation on the open-air porch.

Outfitted with autumn-toned umbrellas, comfortable picnic tables, outdoor heaters for cooler evenings in the spring and fall and offering a view of Pantego Creek, The Front Porch provides a nice spot for folks to sit and visit.

“I love it. It’s just so quaint. It’s a small-town feel. The food’s always good. It’s always fun,” said Melissa Ingrao of the weekend offerings.

“People come out and enjoy the weather. It gives us something to do after 10 p.m. on the weekends. It’s a real friendly atmosphere. Everybody has a good time,” Satterthwaite said.

Originally established by Cy Rich in the 1970s, Farm Boys Restaurant in Belhaven was one of four such eateries in the area and took its name from Rich’s Farm Boys Ranch.

Current owners Ben and Amy Johnson purchased Farm Boys Restaurant 10 years ago.

“We lived and worked one summer on Ocracoke, working in restaurants, waiting tables. We loved the whole restaurant atmosphere. I heard the owner was thinking about selling. I thought wouldn’t that be great,” Ben Johnson recalled.

About four years ago, the Johnsons considered expanding into another community but decided instead to add to what they already had in Belhaven.

They built a large porch and a bar at the front of the old restaurant and opened on Friday and Saturday nights for dinner, Johnson said.

They took the name “front porch” after a phrase coined by previous owner Lois Clayton. She affectionately used those words to refer to the small area customers crowded into while waiting to order and pick up their food, Johnson writes on the back of his dinner menu.

By day, Farm Boys serves up traditional take-out fare with a Southern bent, including the famous beef sandwich, burgers, hot dogs, fish and more — plus it serves breakfast.

On weekend evenings from April through October, The Front Porch offers appetizers, main-dish salads, steaks, chops, fish, baskets and more. It serves beer and wine along with other beverages. There’s even a menu for the children.

On some nights, The Front Porch brings in music as well. On June 2, it will feature Easy Breeze with Jim and Vicki Swinson playing Jimmy Buffett-style tunes.

“It’s the only place in Beaufort County open on the weekends past midnight,” said Satterthwaite.

Farm Boys and The Front Porch are located at 216 Pamlico St. in Belhaven. Farm Boys serves breakfast and lunch fare from 6:30 a.m. until 7 p.m., and The Front Porch serves dinner on Fridays and Saturdays from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. through October. The porch and bar usually remain open until 2 a.m.