On the east side of Croatan Highway (the Bypass) in Kitty Hawk, the Dunes Shops is a strip mall that looks like a snapshot from the late 1960s or early 70s. It was the first Outer Banks strip mall, and it was a pretty big deal when it opened. But, time passes quickly, and until three to four years ago, it was fading with the signs of age.
At that time, Josephine Caggese and her husband, Cosmo, owners of Cosmo’s Pizza in the Marketplace in Southern Shores, took over management of the mall and opened Josephine’s Sicilian Kitchen, and the crowds followed. Josephine is an excellent chef and the food is outstanding. But along with the new restaurant, the new management gave the mall a much needed facelift.
It still has the same blocky 1970’s shape. They didn’t change the architecture, but fresh paint, façade work and a new sign helped to make the Dunes Shops come alive again. On north the end, anchoring the mall is Josephine’s, which quickly gained favors amongst locals. They don’t take reservations, and it can get quite busy but the wait is worth it. It is family-style seating so there’s a good possibility you’ll end up comparing notes about your meal with welcoming strangers.
In the mid-section of the mall, there are two additional places to get a bite to eat. Pok’s Art is Chef Pok’s Asian Fusion restaurant. Pok, who was the chef at the Brewing Station for years, has a well-deserved reputation for finesse, quality and innovation, and the dishes we’ve sampled have been excellent. The seating is very limited; so it’s best to plan for takeout when you go.
Next door, is Necla (pronounced Nayshla) Rader’s Outer Bean Juice and Java. Amazing coffee, nutritious smoothies, made from scratch soups made daily, creative salads, a savory selection of paninis – perfect for lunch and Necla is friendly, outgoing and an enjoyable conversationalist.
The remaining shops in the mall give it an eclectic Outer Banks feeling worth exploring. Donna Hollowell, who owns Deja New, loves to take the old and make it come alive again. Her skill at repurposing, and the ever changing inventory, make people drop in year round to see her unique finds and creations. What really makes Donna stand out, though, is her passion to explain her works to others. Don’t forget to ask about her year-round workshops that Donna hosts to share her craft.
One other store retailer that really stands out is Made in the OBX. One visit will make you aware of the amazing artisans and artists living on the Outer Banks, and Made in the OBX is tapping into those skills. This location is definitely worth a look and pleasant conversation with owners Bill and Lorna Ernst.
Amity Boutique is a mellow, contemporary fashion store for women. There are two Amity stores on the Outer Banks—Islands by Amity in Duck and this Kitty Hawk location. One of the few businesses in the mall that predate the facelift and renovations, the atmosphere in the store is relaxed and welcoming.
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