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Outer Banks Area Features

The Dunes Restaurant

  By: Katrina Mae Leuzinger

Hanging on the dining room wall of The Dunes Restaurant, alongside many smiling family portraits of owners Roxie and Rufus Pritchard and their three children, is a framed article from a 1987 Sunny Day Guide. Looking over the now 30-year-old profile was a trip back in time for Roxie and Rufus.

There are very, very few restaurants on the Outer Banks that can claim to have been in business for over 35 years. Even fewer can say they’ve been owned by the same local family for that long.

Back then, Rufus was a banker. His friend Al Van Curen built the Dunes in 1979. By 1982 Van Curen wanted to sell it, and thought that Rufus was the man to buy it.

Rufus was not quick to agree. In fact, he turned Van Curen down twice.

“My dad said to me, ‘Have you ever waited tables before? Have you ever cooked in a restaurant? Have you ever worked in a restaurant, period? Well then how are you gonna do this?”’ Rufus recalled.

“I was thinking the same thing,” said Roxie.

But when Van Curen came into the bank and told Rufus he had two buyers who wanted the place, Rufus decided he wasn’t going to let a little thing like a total lack of experience stop him.

“I was thinking I’ve got two kids and one on the way, and I tell him, ‘No, you’ve got three people who want it.’”
Van Curen stayed on a full year, teaching Rufus and Roxie everything they needed to know about running a restaurant. They officially took the helm on March 4, 1982, and the rest is history.
35 years of history.

That’s 35 years of watching their kids go from cracking eggs into cereal bowls on the kitchen floor to becoming some of their most valued employees.

It’s been 35 years of constantly striving to make their restaurant the best it could possibly be. They’ve expanded, renovated, redecorated, and made all kinds of improvements to their menu. In 1991, they were the first Outer Banks restaurant to add a gift shop, and Roxie grew that from a sort of hobby into a major part of the business.
In 35 years they’ve weathered seven major hurricanes, a fire, long hours, and the great Beanie Baby craze of ’98. And they’re still here, still family-run, and still wondering what they got into.

“The support we receive from the community, that’s why we’re here,” says Rufus.

“We always wanted to be here for the long run, with our family serving other families—neighbors and visitors alike,” says Roxie.

Visit The Dunes Restaurant at Milepost 16 on the Bypass in Nags Head, or check out their website at TheDunesRestaurant.com.

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