VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A restaurant and bar with 70 years of history is joining Virginia Beach Restaurant Week for the first time.
"My stepmother's father actually built the pier," said Debbie Lou Hague, the manager of Ocean Eddie's, which has called the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier home for decades. "(It's) a great seafood restaurant on the beach, beautiful scenery."
It's a location that's not only great for catching fish, but perfect for snagging tourists visiting during the spring and summer months, with good food and colorful drinks acting as the bait.
But traditionally, during the colder months, the fun would pause. Ocean Eddie's would close its doors until the warmth and foot traffic on the Boardwalk returned.
That is...until this year.
"Rents and things like that, of course, was a problem. Food costs and things like that, so we wanted to get the most out of what we have. We decided to stay open to try it. December was great. January is not so great, yet," Hague told News 3.
But this week offers the chance for a turnaround.
For the first time ever, Ocean Eddie's is participating in Virginia Beach Restaurant Week, joining more than 40 restaurants across the city enticing customers old and new with fixed-cost, multi-course menus.
"(I) wanted to try, like, braised short ribs, a nice sauteed chicken dish, but there's still the classic seafood options like your seared flounder," said Baxter Hague, Debbie Lou's son and head chef at Ocean Eddie's who designed the Restaurant Week menu.
The week is organized by the Virginia Beach Restaurant Association, which, as of this month, has a new executive director, and as fate would have it, she was once a waitress at Ocean Eddie's.
Martha Davenport tells News 3 the week comes during a traditionally slow time for the industry. Challenges like labor shortages and supply chain issues are only making things more difficult.
"Visit a restaurant you haven't done before. Virginia Beach restaurants want to welcome new friends to the table and thank loyal friends for always being there," Davenport said.
With decades of history, there's definitely loyalty in Virginia Beach for Ocean Eddie's, but Hague says its location on the pier at 15th Street has led some longtime residents to avoid her restaurant, assuming it's for tourists.
"The tourists are gone. Locals need to be here, and I think that it's going to be a really fun time," Hague said of Restaurant Week.
And if things go well, maybe it will lead to a new tradition where Ocean Eddie's stays open year-round every year.