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Clarke Merrell preparing food in a kitchen

Clarke Merrell

Chef & Owner

Clarke Merrell is the Executive Chef and Owner, with his wife, Liza, of Dank Burrito, Circa 81 Tapas & Cockatileria,  Beaufort Olive Oil Company, and Merrell Estate & Gardens - a wedding and event venue in Indian Beach. 

Merrell has creatively influenced everything you see at the restaurants and venue. From the custom-built coppertop bar at Circa 81 to the iconic graffiti design at Dank Burrito, his hands have reached beyond the menu to touch every aspect of his brands. 

Clarke grew up working in the restaurant industry, as his parents took over operations at Atlantic Beach's DJ Shooters in 1988. He graduated with a degree in Culinary Arts from the Florida Culinary Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida and has worked the kitchens of highly talented, award-winning chefs around the country. 

Accolades for his brands include Dank Burrito being named 2014 National Food Truck Rookie of the Year and 2016 Graphic Design of the Year by mobile-cuisine.com. Circa 81 was a finalist for the 2011 Best Dish NC contest, and Merrell was named Favorite Chef in 2015 by Coaster Magazine Reader's Choice Awards. Circa 81 was named "Best Eats on the Crystal Coast" by Cooking with Paula Deen magazine in 2015, as well as Open Table Diner's Choice 2013-2018. Circa 81 is also a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence Winner and in the Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame for earning a Certificate of Excellence every year for the past five years.