< Back to Oral History project: Saltwater South: Harkers Island, North Carolina
Mila Willis Guthrie was born in Sea Level, North Carolina on April 13, 1960 and raised on Harkers Island. Her grandfather Earl Rose, was one part of the famous boatbuilding duo (along with his brother James Rose) that made up the Rose Bros. Boatworks, crafting traditionally made wooden boats with the famed flared bow popularized on Harkers Island.
Mrs. Guthrie and her husband, Barry, opened Seaside Galley in 1986, to fill a need in the community. Seaside is a gas station, general store, gift shop, and restaurant situated on Harkers Island road, just past the carved and painted sign welcoming visitors to the island. Every morning, locals gather in the dining room, or adjacent seating area on the convenience store side to drink coffee, tell tales, and catch up with one another.
Daily specials appear, marquee style, on the small outdoor sign every morning, but you’ll always find clam chowder with hush puppies, fried seafood platters, and condensed milk pie; a Harkers Island staple, made with a Ritz cracker crust, a lemony condensed milk filling, and golden meringue. Seaside is the only locally-owned restaurant on Harkers Island, a ritual stop for islanders hungry to connect with their local neighbors.