WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- One of the oldest restaurants in Wilmington could soon be destroyed and replaced with a corner drug store. Now some of Whitey's regulars wonder where they would meet in the mornings.
It's been around 56 years. It's a landmark in Wilmington. It brings the locals, the old timers, the people who have been coming in to get breakfast since the 1950s. Now Whitey's restaurant may get torn down, and in it's place: a Walgreens drugstore.
Joe Lewis has been coming to Whitey's since he was 16 years old. He and his wife drive 22 miles from Rocky Point every morning to eat breakfast. He says his tastes have changed over time.
"I didn't eat pancakes much back then," Lewis laughs, "but I'm tearing 'em up now."
Charlotte Rochelle comes in with her girlfriends a couple times a week.
"You hear all the gossip," she said. "You want to know what's going on."
But the Whitey's gang may soon have to find a new place to gather.
"You always wonder if you're doing the right thing or not," part owner Brian Prevatte said. "I think we are, but we haven't gotten that far yet. We're in the planning process."
The Prevatte family plans to lease the land to Walgreen's.
"Nothing goes on forever," Prevatte said. "The building is 56 years old. It's old. It needs a lot of repair."
He says the state is trying to expand Market Street and Kerr Avenuein the next year or two anyway, and the proposed right of way would go straight through the dining room.
"I hate to see this place go," Lewis said.
Said Rochelle, "Everbody's looking for a place to go, to find, where we can gather again."
And when the time comes for them to move on, the regulars will remember the good eating, the friends they made, the memories they shared and the place most couldn't leave without a hug.
The Prevatte family says there's no timeline or set date when Whitey's will get torn down. The plan still needs city approval. Until then, they're open for business, serving breakfast all day.
Brian Prevatte says when the El Berta Motel was torn down nextdoor, he found nearly all his employees other jobs, and he intends to do the same when Whitey's closes.