Hurricane Flattens Business For OBX Pancake House

As Hurricane Irene swirls toward the North Carolina coast, many local business owners are despairing the loss of business during their busy season. Host Scott Simon checks in with Steve and Kristine Kiousis, who own the pancake house, Stack 'Em High, in Kitty Hawk, N.C.

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SCOTT SIMON, host: It's too early to say what kind of economic damage Hurricane Irene will bring, but coastal residents and business owners are bracing for potential losses, while at the same time hoping for the best. Steve and Kristine Kiousis own and operate the Stack 'Em High Pancake House in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. They're weathering the storm at their home in nearby Southern Shores, North Carolina. That's where we've reached them this morning. Thank you both for joining us. Steve, tell us what's happening where you are.

STEVE KIOUSIS: Oh, it's raining sideways outside right now. Lots of wind gusts, a lot of water. It's nasty outside.

SIMON: Now, tell us a bit about your business just a few miles away. I gather it's closed this morning.

KIOUSIS: Yeah. It's a pancake house, so we're open from 6:30 in the morning 'til 1:00 o'clock in the afternoon, and we have shut down today and tomorrow, and given the employees off. Had mandatory evacuation. We just shut down and hunkered down here at the house.

SIMON: Kristine, may we ask what was business like yesterday?

KRISTINE KIOUSIS: It was very, very, very slow, abnormally slow.

SIMON: Well, give us some idea. How many people would you ordinarily serve, and how many people did you?

KIOUSIS: We probably serve on a Friday in August between 700 and 900 people, and yesterday we did, I think the tally was 27 lucky people got to come to Stack 'Em High yesterday.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SIMON: Well, I'm sure they went away well fed and satisfied.

KIOUSIS: They did. They did, with lots of good stories.

SIMON: What have you done in the restaurant to prepare for the storm?

KIOUSIS: Well, we put all the chairs on the tables, we have a beautiful gift shop and we have a lot of t-shirts, and so we had to put everything about four feet high, and same thing we did in the walk-in and the freezer and dry storage. Everything is at least four feet off the ground right now.

SIMON: Steve, you've lived in the Outer Banks I guess all your life, right?

KIOUSIS: Yes.

SIMON: Help us understand what you're preparing for and what preparations you make to close down the business and open it back up in a time like this?

KIOUSIS: Well, you know, you listen to what the police and the Dare County management says, and we had water in the restaurant during Isabelle, and then we had water in the restaurant with the Halloween storm back in the '90s, so we're kind of used to this.

SIMON: So you know who to call and what to do?

KIOUSIS: Yeah. We pretty much - well, we live, we're about 16 feet above sea level, so we stay here. We stayed in this house during Isabelle in 2003 and we're pretty secure. In the event that the winds were stronger than what they were saying now, we would probably go a little bit further inland.

SIMON: But you're satisfied you'll be okay where you are now?

KIOUSIS: Yeah.

SIMON: And the restaurant for that matter will be recoverable?

KIOUSIS: Well, you know, that's about three miles from our house, and when it all is said and done we'll go down and check it out.

SIMON: You were surfing yesterday.

KIOUSIS: Yes.

SIMON: No plans for today?

KIOUSIS: No. Not today.

SIMON: Was it spectacular yesterday?

KIOUSIS: I would say spectacular, but I would say it was pretty fun. It was pretty good. It's nice to able to go out and catch some waves, and you gotta make the best of the situation. Normally, I would have been working, but since we didn't have any business, I said, you know, let's go surfing.

SIMON: Steve, thanks so much. We'll speak with you later. Take care.

KIOUSIS: Okay, you take care.

KIOUSIS: Thank you so much.

SIMON: Steve and Kristine Kiousis own and operate the Stack 'Em High Pancake House in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

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