The Tavern at Jack’s Neck almost ready for business

Published 11:40 pm Saturday, July 13, 2013

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BELHAVEN – It all started with wanting a slice of pizza. Now, Doug and Jimmie Southerland’s four-year labor of love is nearly complete.
The Tavern at Jack’s Neck is a new restaurant and bar under renovation in downtown Belhaven.
The couple bought a 1930’s building on Pamlico Street in 2009 and started updating every surface in sight. They ripped out floors, updated restrooms, added a 60-foot bar and a lot of charm.
A bar-height table divides the main dining area and a two-way stone fireplace separates the main dining area from one of two dining areas that will be used for private parties. Salvaged tin ceilings cover the only dining space not covered in walnut, teak mahogany or cypress.
Doug Southerland said the painted walls would feature a mural one day soon. It is all a part of he and his wife, Jimmie’s interpretation of a cozy local tavern with a nod to the area’s nautical roots.
A lot of the wood that covers the ceilings and walls is local.
“We had a good source for wood down here, a local mill, so we just took advantage of it,” Doug Southerland said.
The tavern will be a casual place to dine and watch a game seven days a week. It won’t be a sports bar, but will have enough big screens to rival one.
“This is real casual dining, private parties, transit boaters in top-siders, shorts and T-shirts,” he said. “Belhaven needed a nice gathering place.”
The restaurant will serve lunch and dinner. Southerland said the menu would offer bar food and specialize in pizza and pasta salads. It could end up something extravagant. He will leave that up to the chef they eventually hire.
The future tavern flooded with 12 inches of water the week Southerland started renovations. The experience dictated a lot of the design. The bar area was raised, carpets ripped out and the lowest portions of the walls were bricked.
Southerland said the toughest part about renovating the space was finding skilled woodworkers. He found two craftsmen and settled on a longer timeline for completion.
Belhaven Realtor Andy Fisher said the Southerlands found the ideal location for The Tavern at Jack’s Neck.
“Belhaven is right along the Intracoastal Waterway and this is within a two-minute walk of the town dock,” he said.
Southerland said Belhaven was one of the last undeveloped waterway towns around, but that was about to change.
“With a little place like this, that’s got two or three good restaurants – especially next to the water – this nice, small waterside village is going to get busier.”