The Wharf itself had been a bustling port for many decades of the 19th and early 20th Centuries. In those times, naval stores were an important commodity to the state of North Carolina. Naval stores are products prepared from the sap of the Long-Leaf Pine - a species once abundantly indigenous to the region. The products are tar and pitch, which were used as waterproofing agents in shipbuilding, and turpentine, and important solvent.
William Craig constructed the original restaurant building as a residence in 1870. Mr. Craig was a cooper, or a maker of wooden barrels. Many of Mr. Craig’s barrels were almost certainly used for the storage and transport of the naval stores. The house was moved to its present grounds in 1977 from a location on Wooster Street.
Originally, The Pilot House Restaurant served a limited menu of salads and sandwiches, which were carried by the customer from the service window to an outdoor dining area (which is now the main dining room, or “porch” as locals know it). As the menu grew, most of the food was prepared in a remote kitchen in the wharf. In 1988, the secondary structure was built to house the modern kitchen, additional dining space, and offices. A riverfront deck was built was built in 1993, which extended from the original old porch of the restaurant to Nun Street. In early 2004, our existing bar was turned into a private dining area and part of our riverfront deck became the new home of our bar which offers a spectacular view of the Cape Fear River.