Seafood, sunsets and more at Sugar Creek
Published 10:50 am Sunday, October 6, 2019
Ervin Bateman, owner of Sugar Creek Seafood Restaurant, is a sixth-generation Kitty Hawker and an eighth-generation Outer Banker. He and his wife Teresa reside in the same house Ervin’s great-father lived in years ago. They decided to open Sugar Creek to serve their guests fresh local seafood and provide an authentic Outer Banks-style experience night after night.
Sugar Creek was originally known as RV’s Restaurant back in the day. Bateman grew up in the fish business and started selling to restaurants like RV’s. He needed another side job, so RV Owens, owner of RV’s, picked him up as a busboy. Six months later, Bateman started working for Owens full-time. He had discovered his passion and the rest is history.
“I love the hustle and bustle of the restaurant business,” Bateman said. “Where else can you go and serve a thousand people a day, then go home dead tired and have such a sense of accomplishment that all those people were pleased?” Since finding his dream job, Bateman has spent the past twenty-nine years dedicating his life to it.
Sugar Creek has come a long way since Ervin and Teresa renamed the building in 2004. After putting some time into remodeling and renovations, the restaurant now seats 189 people. There are two large gazebos and walking docks out the back, and huge salt and fresh water aquariums that contain exotic fish. There is even an “aquarium room” for larger party seating.
Due to more cottages and beach homes on the island now than ever, there is, of course, more wait time expected on hot summer nights at Sugar Creek. To help relieve the lull, Bateman has made sure there are tons of osprey, turtles and fish to keep guests entertained. The wait is always well worth it once guests are seated at tables overlooking the sound and the sun starts to set. “We are known for our beautiful sunsets,” Bateman said. “Some nights we’ll play ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ and time it to the sun going down. Guests love that.”
“When people come in to eat at Sugar Creek, the first thing they want to know is what we have that’s fresh,” Bateman said. The Batemans try to buy as local as they can and give their customers the “Outer Banks experience.” Bateman said, “Growing up, I was raised on spot, croaker, sea mullet and fish like that. The people that come in want that same kind of experience, so we try to put that on the menu as much as we can.”
Along with the daily fish specials Bateman runs, he has massive amounts of shrimp delivered to the restaurant daily. He purchases about 35,000 pounds of jumbo shrimp, not counting the shrimp used to make popcorn shrimp and various other dishes. One of his favorite items on the menu is the a special they have served for over twenty years: twenty jumbo shrimp for $16.99. “You really can’t beat the price for that quality of seafood,” he said. Needless to say, Sugar Creek is a shrimp-lovers dream.
Bateman has always had a vision to keep the restaurant moving at a “bigger and better” pace. “If you stay the same in the restaurant business, you stay stagnant,” he said. “I always want to be innovative.” Hence why the Sugar Shack, Sugar Creek’s next-door fish market, was created. For customers who cannot get enough of the delicious seafood server at dinner, they can go to the next building over and bring their favorite locally-caught fish home. Bateman decided to lease the Sugar Shack this year to Andrew Couey, who also runs the Sugar Creek gift shop with his wife.
Sugar Creek serves lunch and dinner seasonally, from mid-March to the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Catering services are available for special events. Forty-eight guests can be seated in each soundfront gazebo, with personalized chefs, bartenders and servers. For more information on Sugar Creek, the Sugar Shack or catering services, visit www.sugarcreekseafood.com.
Sugar Creek’s Crab Bisque, courtesy of Ervin Bateman:
– 1 tbs. seafood base
– 3 qt. heavy cream
– Diced roasted red pepper
– 4 tbs. roux
– 2 lbs. crab meat
- Steam all ingredients except crab meat together to create the base for the bisque
- Add crabmeat once bisque starts to boil
- Season bisque with Old Bay and lemon pepper
- Steam for another 20 minutes
Note: mix and stir more roux to thicken if bisque is too thin
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