Jenny Scarborough

The Flying Melon dining room filled up quickly after opening in their new location on Back Road.

Ta-Da! Open for Business!
Ta-Da! Open for Business!

The bar, lounge and two dining rooms have warm wood and copper accents, pea green walls, tall ceilings, funky chandeliers, reclaimed barn wood floors, and large windows that lend a breezy feel.  "This is lovely. It's exquisite. I'm in awe here," commented a diner from Greensboro.

The menu Ocracokers and visitors grew to love during the Melon's first seven years, in their former location next to the new Fire House, remains the same for now. The new structure, next to the old Fire House, was designed and built by Garick Kalna. Over 15 local builders and sub-contractors were employed during construction.

"Somebody came in and said, 'I thought this was a new building,'" laughed owner Paula Schramel. The restaurant marries modern styling and an antique sensibility. "We wanted it to look older, to fit in with the rest of the area." The new building gives them the advantage of a larger kitchen and for the first time ever, a proper area for Chef Michael Schramel to prep for dinner during brunch service.

Fly Me to the Melon

The food is as good as ever, said Javier of Javier's Fast Taxi Service as he tucked into his breakfast. I savored every bite of my smoked salmon and boursin omelet, and my dining companion, enjoying her first ever Melon meal, marveled over her blue crab and bacon omelet, even going so far as to post her delight on facebook.

Michael plans to add more appetizers, small plates and gluten-free options to the menu, which can be viewed here.

Prices will remain the same unless their food costs go up, said his wife and co-owner, Paula.

Today's menu features locally caught bluefish, spanish mackeral, red drum and permit fish, which turned up in Jesse Spencer's nets, and is similar to pompano. Michael's lemon butter sauce was deemed "seamless, perfectly balanced, and a work of art in its own right," by Gourmet Magazine's Jane Lear in 2009. Will he be whipping some up for tonight's dinner? "I sure am," said Michael, who was relieved to be once again open for business.

None of the staff jumped ship while waiting for the restaurant to re-open, noted Michael with pleasure. Matt Tolson and Daniel O'Neal are back at work on the brunch line, and the employees working the dining room all had big smiles.

Molly Lyons, Cliff Hanbury, Nat Schramel & Emma Lovejoy, happy to be back to work at The Flying Melon.
Molly Lyons, Cliff Hanbury, Nat Schramel & Emma Lovejoy, happy to be back to work at The Flying Melon.

"They are so fun to work for," said host and server Molly Lyons, noting that the crew are all friends, and that Michael and Paula are easy going bosses.

"Ellos son bien. They're nice people," said Adela Garcia, who is starting her sixth year on the Melon staff.

"You have to check out the upstairs," said server Lori Masaitis, after gushing with pleasure over the new dining room.

The upstairs is an airy lounge with comfy seating for after or pre-dinner drinks. The lounge is perfect for hosting small bridal showers or luncheons, said Paula. Other groups may get into the habit of congregating there as well, as a full bar will accompany the Melon's menu for the first time, and there is an adjacent open air deck.

The Schramels moved to Ocracoke from New Orleans, where they ran a catering business for 18 years, and Mat and Naddie's Restaurant for six of those years. After initially working as a chef at the Back Porch Restaurant, Michael opened The Flying Melon with Susie Scott in 2006. When Susie moved away three years ago, Paula joined the team, adding her touches to the decor and menu design, and helping the service flow smoothly.

Upstairs is for lounging, small plates, desserts and cocktails.
Upstairs is for lounging, small plates, desserts and cocktails.

Both of their adult children work in the restaurant, and Paula and Michael say that their daughter, Maddie, and son, Nat, are welcome to help their parents transition to retirement whenever the urge strikes. Michael cooks dinner every night, and Paula is as comfortable greeting guests and working the floor as she is stepping up when needed in the kitchen.

Michael has "no concerns moving off the main road," and is confident the location, right across from Ocracoke Coffee Co., within easy walking distance of three motels, and around the corner from The Back Porch Restaurant, will give them plenty of exposure to diners who are not already familiar with the Melon's sophisticated Southern cuisine.

The dining room, seating 50, has intimate little nooks and cozy banquettes. The divided room means the restaurant can host special occasions while remaining open to the public, said Paula. Putting up a tent over the grassy drain field will make a lovely place for a reception, said Michael. The Flying Melon will continue to offer their catering services as well.

Now that they're back in business, the Melon will serve a full brunch menu (9 a.m. - 2 p.m.) Tuesday through Sunday, and dinner (5:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.) Tuesday through Saturday.