High Water Social eyes January opening

Published 2:30 pm Friday, December 20, 2019

It all started at a European ping-pong bar more than 20 years ago. There, thousands of miles from Washington, Backwater Jack’s owners Laura Scoble and Cathy Bell first conceived the idea that would become High Water Social more than two decades later.

“The only thing they had were ping-pong tables, and they served little, tiny Heinekens,” Scoble recalled. “The people that were inside this small space were having so much fun. People were interacting and laughing and carrying on. … I could just never get that out of my mind.”

Now, after years of planning, and months of renovations and preparation, the new social club on the south side of the Pamlico is preparing for a very soft opening, with plans to welcome the public in January. Scoble says the original business plan for the idea dates back to 2013.

“Since moving to Washington, what I’ve realized is we really do have a lot of good restaurants,” Scoble said. “But one of the things we don’t have is a place for families or individuals to come before or after they eat to stretch their evening out and have something fun to do.”

Housed in the former Park Boat Company building, just south of the U.S. Highway 17 Business bridge over the Pamlico, High Water Social is three unique spaces in one.

On the lower level, ping pong tables, dart boards, a pool table, basketball hoops and arcade games fill the floor. A few steps away, a unique bar with an open design is built to withstand the inevitable flooding at the location. All the games, likewise, can be hauled away before a hurricane or elevated out of harm’s way.

BIG FUN: Ping-pong, a pool table, darts, basketball, air hockey — these indoor offerings on the lower floor of High Water Social are only a fraction of what the new club has to offer. (Matt Debnam/Daily News)

“I can’t tell you how many people have said, ‘Do you know that you’re going to flood?’” Scoble said. “Then I say, ‘We named it High Water for a reason.’ We know it’s going to flood. … When the water comes in, the water will go out eventually. We’ll grab our power sprayer and Clorox, hose it down and start again, just like we do at Backwater Jack’s.”

A half-story up, the atmosphere is slightly calmer than the game room downstairs. Toward the backside of the building, a large room holds long tables, offering a spot to sit and talk with friends, enjoy a slice of pizza or even play a board game. A ship’s store offers all the essentials families might need for a day on the water. Set off from that back room, a quiet room serves as a sensory-friendly space for families who might have kids with autism.

“I have a couple of employees at Backwater Jack’s that have autistic children,” Scoble said. “Their hands are tied when it comes to finding a place they can go with their children and have a quiet space. That’s what that quiet room is about.”

Finally, on the north side of the building, a newly constructed porch overlooks a large field and Paradise Creek, a tributary of the Tar River. While the waterfront will offer paddle rentals from Inner Banks Outfitters, the large space offers much potential for recreation.

From cozying up at a fire ring in the cooler months to lounging in one of the club’s permanent hammocks during the summer, there will be plenty to do outside. Outdoor games include human foosball, giant beer pong, corn hole and fowling, an interesting cross between football and bowling.

A fossil pit at the site adds to the fun for amateur paleontologists, adults and kids alike. The plan is to eventually park a 1952 Airstream trailer in the backyard to serve as an outdoor bar during the summer. Eventually, Scoble says the plan is for Park Boat Company, which still owns the land, to add dry stack storage on the site, making the property a hub for boat traffic on the Tar and Pamlico rivers.

“None of the counties we touch have anything like this,” she said. “Just like Backwater Jack’s, I think it’s going to evolve into whatever people want.”

High Water Social is organized as a social club, with a membership costing $1 per year, per family. Scoble says used board games will also be accepted in lieu of membership dues. The business is located at 214 U.S. Highway 17 Business, Washington.