Doug & Judy
We are Doug and Judy Eifert, owners of Dajio Restaurant. Dajio is the culmination of a dream that formulated after our first lovestruck visit to the island: Doug and Judy In Ocracoke. Doug and I met in the restaurant business. If you are meant for it, a life in food absorbs you, even if you have to start from scratch, as we did. After giving up our day jobs, Doug worked his way up from bartender to chef and I from server to manager. After 12 years managing a nationally recognized, award-winning restaurant in Lexington, Kentucky, we decided to pursue our dream of opening Dajio on Ocracoke Island.
In conceiving Dajio, we wanted to create a focused, personal restaurant that would showcase the best of Ocracoke’s local ingredients, local artisans and local musicians. We revived an old, tired building in the heart of the village to feature a comfortable dining space with nightly entertainment, allowing both locals and tourists to enjoy an original, eclectic meal one night, or just cocktails and music the next. Our menu changes with the seasons to bring our guests the finest ingredients from sea, farm or backyard garden, at the peak of freshness. At Dajio, we believe that the most memorable meals and evenings start from scratch.
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Later we took the farm-to-table concept even further—to our backyard. We started a garden at the restaurant from which we pull ingredients daily. When a dish needs something more to take it to the next level, we just go out and grab it. Being tied this closely to the food we serve helps us deliver the best to our customers each and every day. Nurturing our vegetables from seed has only increased our respect for the ingredients, using restraint to let them shine.
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Ocracoke Island is an original, filled with lore and local talent to match. On our first visit to the island, we immediately fell head-over-heels for its pristine beaches and old-time island way of life. We knew we had to make a life here. Below is a brief history of our beloved village, with some things we love to do. After you have worked up an appetite enjoying island life, join us for a relaxing meal at Dajio.
Ocracoke: A Brief History
Ocracoke is owned by the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and maintained by the National Park Service. Offering 16 miles of unspoiled beaches, this beautiful island is the perfect venue for swimming, surfing, surf fishing and boating all year long. World-class shelling, biking, bird watching and kayaking are just a few activities available to “off-season” visitors, who enjoy Ocracoke’s temperate weather courtesy of the Gulf Stream.
Much of the allure of the village of Ocracoke is its remoteness, requiring visitors to arrive by private plane, private boat or one of the state-run ferries from Cedar Island, Swan Quarter, and Hatteras Village. These limited modes of access have helped preserve the prominent Old English-inspired brogue of some of the 800 year-round residents. Located at the southern tip of the island, Ocracoke residents lived in relative isolation until the 1950s, having contact with the mainland only through daily trips by the mail boat. Their livings were made from fishing and hunting and as guides to wealthy mainland families, hunters and fisherman who could afford to summer here. Ocracoke was truly discovered when Highway 12 was paved and scheduled ferry service began in 1957, allowing wider access to tourists.
For a brief period during World War II, the Coast Guard station was transformed into a US Navy base. Beaches were closed, fishing was curtailed, homes and businesses were requisitioned, and the island’s lifestyle was interrupted. The war was witnessed firsthand offshore where “Torpedo Junction” claimed more than 60 ships during the first 6 months of 1942. The British Cemetery on Ocracoke serves as a reminder of this period. It holds the bodies of four young British soldiers who lost their lives when the HMC Bedfordshire was torpedoed by a German submarine off the coast of Ocracoke. Island residents found and buried the bodies on donated land and maintained the graves.
The history of Ocracoke is also rich in pirate lore. It is said that Blackbeard, the infamous pirate who plundered the Carolina coast in the early 1700s, fought his last battle just off the island at Teach’s Hole, where he was beheaded. Legend hints that his vast treasure may still be buried here.
Since 1823, the oldest working lighthouse in North Carolina and one of the oldest on the East Coast has stood tall on Ocracoke, guiding ships along the treacherous “Graveyard of the Atlantic”. Though now a ghost town, Portsmouth Village is maintained by the Cape Lookout Park Service and can be toured as a reminder of the growth both this and Ocracoke Island experienced when the Ocracoke Inlet served as the main waterway.
Located near the ferry docks, the Ocracoke Preservation Museum details the history of the first families of Ocracoke, the island’s place in the Civil and World Wars, and its traditions. Visitors of all ages love observing the famous Banker Ponies that once roamed free on the island and numbered nearly 200. Local volunteers aid the National Park Service in the continued care of their descendants who now reside just off Highway 12.
Come and experience the rich but simple life that Ocracoke has to offer at any time of the year.
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