photograph by Chris Hannant

After a day of sun and sand on Corolla’s pristine beaches, thirsty swimmers and sunbathers retreat to the shade of the large live oak that anchors the beer garden at The Shack. Co-owner and Outer Banks native Matt Soriente built this whole place around that tree: the sleek wooden bar where customers in seats made from metal canisters order beer and wine; the teak-root tables and chairs where families chat over chips and salsa and sodas; the wooden archway inviting visitors — canine companions included — onto the spacious patio.

In the afternoon and evening, friends drop in for cold beer and good company, drawn by the sounds of laughter and live music. (Some just chat with Matt and his partner, Kelly Rodriquez, also a North Carolina native, for hours.)

By morning, The Shack is a coffeehouse — “my little domain,” Kelly says. In the small house overlooking the beer garden, baristas whip up locally roasted coffee, smoothies, and frappes, and serve pastries and locally baked Lighthouse bagels. While customers wait, they examine the canvas prints of the Outer Banks in the 1950s and ’60s that hang on the wood-paneled walls. Kelly and her family vacationed in this very spot when she was 4, long before she and Matt opened The Shack in 2010. Since then, they’ve transformed the former home into a favorite hangout for locals and vacationers, who sometimes visit twice a day for the two distinct experiences: cozy coffee shop above, shaded beer garden below.

The Shack
1148 Ocean Trail, Corolla, NC 27927
(252) 597-1500

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Katie King is the assistant editor at Our State.