Sam & Omie's
Charter fishing began in Dare County in the late 1930s when some of the local commercial fishermen realized they could make some extra money by taking out recreational fishermen when their chosen commercial targets weren't present. When Crabs, Oysters, Shrimp, Flounders etc weren't available in commercial quantities why not take out some of the "Fun Fishermen" and make a little extra cash? In those days very few people owned their own boats for recreational purposes, so it was natural that the commercial captains were being constantly bombarded with requests to take folks out around the inlet to try for Bluefish, Spanish Mackeral, Drum etc. Some of the captains decided this was a good idea and the Dare County charter fishing industry was born. Things worked out nicely and business began to boom until World War II came along and ruined everything. Immediately after the war business picked up right where it left off in 1941.
One of these captains, Sambo Tillet, owned a small restaurant on the beach called Sambo's. The majority of his business came from commercial fishermen who gathered there in the mornings for an early breakfast before starting the days work on the water. They also liked to gather there in the evenings to have a few beers and jaw about the days fishing. In 1947 Sambo came up with the bright idea to start booking charters for himself and his buddies right from the restaurant. In those days the boats were moored at Dykster's dock, right alongside the causeway across from where Pirates Cove marina is today. The canal can still be seen today running alongside the highway from the Manteo bridge almost all the way to the Wanchese stoplight.In those days that canal was full of boats it's entire length.
In 1951 the state built a road from Whalebone Junction to Oregon Inlet so Sam and some of his friends moved their boats to a ditch just North and West of the inlet. It was much closer to the fishing grounds and saved both time and money for the captains. There was no marina, just a ditch where the boats were moored alongside the bank. Fuel had to be transported in cans, by car, to the boats. In 1953 the owner of the land built a small marina on the site, just a bulkhead and a small bait shop. In 1955 the land and marina was purchased by the National Park Service and the marina was leased back to Sambo's brother Toby. Thus Oregon Inlet Fishing Center was born.
So now Toby Tillet owned the fishing center and Sambo Tillet owned the restaurant. Somewhere along about this time the name was changed to include Sambo's son Omie and it became known as Sam & Omie's. Then Sambo decided to go to full time charter fishing and sold the restaurant to another local, Tom McKimmey. For several years bookings for charters at the fishing center were done at both places, Sam & Omie's and the fishing center. This remained the case until the early 60s when business became so good at Oregon Inlet Fishing Center that it was too confusing to be booking from two different locations and the restaurant dropped out of that aspect of the business.
In 1971 the property was purchased by the Waits sisters, the store was enlarged and modernized and Sam & Omies became a full fledged restaurant, but the origins were never forgotten, S & O's always has been and always will be a haven for fishermen of all kinds.