Clawson’s Grocery & Bakery
The original Clawson’s grocery store was owned by Charles and Mary Clawson who were immigrants from Sweden and Ireland, respectively. Its first location was on the south (water) side of Front St. where all the retail shops were able to serve customers that arrived by boat from Harkers Island and points east. Clawson’s claim to fame back then was its bakery, located behind our current building where Backstreet Pub is located. It’s believed to be the oldest building in Beaufort built about 1870 completely of brick. The original waterside grocery store was destroyed by a hurricane, so the current Clawson’s was re-established on the north side of Front Street where it is today.
The original Clawson’s grocery store sold canned goods, fresh produce from local farmers and fresh baked goods from “The Bakery” out back. The reputation of these baked goods grew throughout Carteret County and the East Coast, as sales to yacht crews that navigated the Intracoastal Waterway increased. Local delivery was available to town residents in the form of a carriage drawn by horses known by such names as “June Bug” and “Dragonfly”. Goods werealso sent by mailboat to the Down East communities. Clawson’s Grocery & Bakery’s business prospered for many years until the Great Depression struck. Mr Clawson paid his creditors but his customers could not pay their debts to him, forcing the closing of Clawson’s Grocery & Bakery in 1934.
Clawson’s grocery building was purchased thereafter and served as home to several businesses including a hat shop (there is a picture of it in the stairwell), a dress shop, a children’s clothing shop, and a piece goods shop. By the 1970’s it was unoccupied and was sold on the courthouse steps to pay bills.
Clawson’s Restaurant & Pub
The building was bought and renovated into a restaurant in 1977 by Candy and Bill Rogers. The Rogers chose to use the namesake of it’s original owners as the restaurant name. They operated the restaurant for 7 years and the Hill family operated it for one.
In 1985 Fred and Joyce McCune purchased Clawson’s and the neighboring building which housed the Fishtowne Alley shops in the old P. H. Rose 5 and Dime store. Being in the restaurant business was a new idea to the McCunes as they originally came to Beaufort when they purchased the old WBMA 1400 country music radio station and continued its tradtion of broadcasting East Carteret sports. They later built rock station Z-103 which is now WMGV-103 radio. In 1989 Joey McClure, of Harkers Island, became a partner and general manager of the restaurant.
The current owners have tried to emphasize and preserve the history of the building by displaying memorabilia from the grocery store and Beaufort’s past. Pictures of the building as a grocery store from the 1920’s line the stairwell, along with copies of The Beaufort News. Walls and shelves are filled with baskets, crates, and tins just to describe a few of the era decorations. Renovations were made to the restaurant in the winter of 1989/90 when the patio dining room was added and the kitchen was greatly enlarged to serve the growing clientele more efficiently. In 1996, the restaurant was expanded to include the former Fishtown Alley shops where the current Entrance and the Clawson’s Pub are located.
The Fishtown Alley building also has its own bit of history as it was originally a P.H. Rose store built in the 30’s. In Roses’ flourishing times, it was connected to the next building which now houses Island Trader’s and Canvastic. By the late 1970’s, old 5 & 10’s were failing, and a fire in the front of the building in 1978 sealed its fate and the store was closed. You can still see the fire damage over the entrance area on the large wooden beam that supports the roof.
After the fire, there were several boutique shops and a series of bars located in Fishtowne Alley, including Y’alls, Tobacco Rosie’s (to back of Roses), and Clawson’s Back Bar between 1978 and 1986. The expansion in 1996 allowed Clawson’s to add the Pub, which features an antique mahogany back bar, and additional areas to handle guests. The third floor dining room was also renovated and an old window reopened to better see the views of the Beaufort waterfront and the Cape Lookout Lighthouse.
In 2003 the owners opened sister restaurant Aqua located around the back on Middle Lane. Aqua is an upscale tapas inspired restaurant that features big wines and smaller tasting plates as well as full sized dinners.
Thanks for stepping back into Beaufort’s past here at Clawson’s 1905 Restaurant and Pub where you can make a little history of your own.