John Power and Sam McGann opened the Blue Point with the intention of changing the restaurant scene in a sleepy island community. Outer Banks restaurants prepared seafood two ways (broiled or fried) in 1989, but McGann was exploring the new American cooking movement, which emphasized showcasing the foods of the moment based on what was seasonal and regionally available. That meant crab meat and corn in the summer, oysters and sweet potatoes in the winter. “Sam’s food was a revelation for me,” Power says.
The duo paired McGann’s fresh approach with a vintage diner-style setting, complete with black-and-white tiled floors, fire engine-red barstools and booths, and an open view into the kitchen, displaying the chefs’ artistry.
“The idea of an open kitchen was pretty different than traditional Outer Banks restaurants,” McGann says. “We were bringing cooks closer to the table, which gave a different feel than people had ever seen before.”
Power simultaneously built a workplace of folks with “hospitality written all over them” and gave them a place that encouraged engaging with guests, forming relationships, and educating them about the esoteric ingredients on their plates.
Through the novel menu, interactive cooking display, and welcoming faces, the Blue Point became what Power calls, “the best party you could find in the middle of nowhere.”
In the restaurant world, thirty years is a lifetime. Led by Power and McGann, however, the Blue Point evolved into an iconic restaurant that draws regulars from Virginia and North Carolina, along with vacationers, to its quiet, sound-front locale. For the long-term clientele, it serves as the place to celebrate special occasions, a hallmark for vacations, the place that sends sympathy cards to the families when loyal guests pass.
A New Guard at the Blue Point
Like every restaurant, the Blue Point was rocked by Covid-19. The ever-changing dining restrictions and CDC guidance forced Power, McGann, and their staff, particularly executive chef Dave McCleary and general manager Nancy Stanford, to pivot daily to continue delivering the same high standard people expected of the Blue Point.
During this time, the restaurant’s assistant manager of nine years, Ryan Raskin, approached the owners. He wanted to take his involvement to the next level—which, for him, meant buying the Blue Point. He expressed his interest to Power and McGann, repeatedly. His persistence got the two thinking.
“I like that the idea came from them,” McGann says. “We’ve been through the last twenty months together, and that either strengthens your resolve or diminishes it. [Raskin] continued to see how strong the Blue Point was—how we kept all the staff employed and the way customers came back to us. He recognized all the potential the restaurant had for the future.”
For Raskin, owning the Blue Point represented an opportunity to achieve a family dream. He and his siblings grew up in the industry and shared the goal of having their own restaurant group based on the Outer Banks. The trio each brought experience from various facets of restaurant industry: His sister Leigh owned a cafe down the road from the Blue Point and his brother Jamie worked in hospitality management at hotels and restaurants in New York’s Upper West Side, and later received a masters in beverage management from Culinary Institute of America-Napa Valley.
“And Ryan is very good with staff and customers and probably the most charismatic of us three,” Leigh says. “We have such different experiences, but we have a very clear idea of what we want to see next.” Either starting a business from the ground up or taking over one seemed like their best bet for achieving their shared dream. And, right in their neighborhood: “From a patron’s perspective, the Blue Point was THE restaurant down here” Raskin says. Her brothers, on the other hand, both worked in some capacity at the restaurant and became established members of the staff and familiar faces to clientele.
After thirty-two years of owning the Blue Point, Power and McGann passed their restaurant to a new guard, Sibling Revelry. And, the Raskins are already looking ahead to the next thirty years.
“We’re seeing younger generations that want a different dining experience. They’re willing to spend money on a more curated experience. They want to see new ideas, new specials, more local products. The Blue Point did a great job of that, and we’d love to expand on that,” Jamie says.
Under their leadership, the Blue Point will offer a platform for the line cooks, along with the chefs, to showcase their whims through nightly specials, a curated selection of nonalcoholic beverages, and an emphasis on sourcing more ingredients from the Outer Banks’ island communities.
Beyond small updates, the Raskins’ main goal is to preserve the traits that made the Blue Point succeed. “We kind of became caretakers of a legacy, and we have to honor that,” Jamie says. “John and Sam will always be a presence here, so it’s about honoring them, too.”
As a sign of good faith to their client base, they even changed the restaurant’s logo—back to the original, a decal of “the Blue Point” in Power’s cursive. “We want to assure customers that we’re committed to honoring that legacy. We respect everything [Power and McGann] have done.”
- by Erin Byers Murray