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Sunday, February 5, 2023

After its demolition Wed, Wrightsville Beach remembers historic MOI building

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By Mel Beasley


The iconic, orange-roofed Middle of the Island building was demolished to provide additional parking for another nearby restaurant yesterday afternoon, Jan. 24.

The small, coastal restaurant was known for its friendly service and traditional beach cuisine such as fried shrimp, and stuffed peppers which were served on Wednesdays. Middle of the Island restaurant served the community for about 40 years before converting into a catering company, which now serves more than 200 weddings per year, according to their website.

“There aren’t many people on this island who don’t have fond memories of Middle of the Island,” Wrightsville Beach resident, Leigh Ann Joyner said. “My favorite things there were collards and squash casserole. The best part was you knew almost everyone who went there, including the staff.”

On the Lumina News Facebook page, dozens told stories and expressed sadness about the loss of the historic building.

“They should have preserved this landmark,” wrote Anna Butner Barnes.

Many reflected on the breakfast servings.

“Some great and inexpensive breakfasts eaten there back in the day,” write Bobby Estill.

“My family would go to the breakfast house after early morning fishing with Paul Hines. Great place for local color and great food!” Mary Flynn wrote.

Others shared colorful stories about the restaurant.

Jerome Williams wrote: “Loved that place. We were regulars there. You saw all your friends and neighbors and everybody that had been out or working the night before. One time during the Azalea Festival we were there and there was an older hangover victim at a nearby table (they were all nearby, of course) who had a heart attack and fell out of his chair. There were calls for a Doctor, but there were none. Two women there were Registered Nurses. They cared for him until an ambulance came. We heard later that he didn’t make it. Last Azalea Festival for him.”

An effort to find a commercial tenant for the building failed in 2016. Some noted the dilapidated  shape of the structure.

“Such a great spot! Sad to see it go, but it was getting pretty bad,” wrote Joey Hamm.

The restaurant closed about ten years ago, and the building has sat unused on Causeway Drive ever since then. The empty lot will become additional parking for customers of Poe’s Tavern, a gourmet hamburger restaurant that opened in 2015.

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