Wrightsville Beach cafe gives new meaning to enjoying Sundays

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Sundays Cafe recently opened in Wrightsville Beach above South End Surf Shop. Photo by Hannah Leyva.
Sundays Cafe recently opened in Wrightsville Beach above South End Surf Shop. Photo by Hannah Leyva.

Sundays are about to take on a whole new meaning in Wrightsville Beach.

In the last few weeks, a new café has opened up above South End Surf Shop, with a familiar look but different feel.

Sundays Café has set up shop on the second floor of 708 S. Lumina Ave., where The Post Café opened nearly a year ago. Due to management issues, that place closed in February, but the space above the popular surf store in a prime location across the street from the Oceanic Restaurant and Crystal Pier would not stay empty for long.

A couple months and a fresh coat of paint later, locals once again have a spot on the island’s south end to grab an iced coffee after a morning surf session or a cold beer after an afternoon one.

“We wanted to liven it up a bit,” said Marissa Ruehle, a Hampstead native and University of North Carolina – Wilmington graduate who operates the new café.

In addition to putting bright blue paint on the walls, Ruehle and her team had a bar built in front of the new draft beer taps. The furniture was updated and streamlined, with seating for just 22 guests (the space has a maximum occupancy of 23 people). High top tables reminiscent of bar seating have replaced the rustic tables that once crowded the room, though they kept the reading nook with couches in the back of the space.

The numerous stands with tchotchkes that dotted the old space are gone, replaced with just two stands against a side wall, making the space feel more open. One stand holds merchandise with the new café’s logo, while the other displays items from local brand State of Shaka, whose owner, James McDonough, created the Sundays Café emblem. The walls are currently decorated with surfboards and McDonough’s paintings, which are for sale. Ruehle said the goal is to display more local artists in the future.

Though draft beer has been added, the menu is slightly leaner than that of The Post Café. A variety of coffee drinks and smoothies are still being offered, as well as the popular acai bowls, but gone are the large gelato and breakfast pastries cases. They still offer muffins and bagels, and the refrigerator is still full of sandwiches and other grab-and-go food, but Ruehle said they’re focusing on working mainly with just two local vendors: Carolina Farmin’ and Epic Food Company.

Ruehle, who was employed by Port City Java for six years before helping open Tama Tea in Mayfaire last year, is focusing on providing a laid back place for beachgoers to relax and re-energize in.

Sundays Cafe serves coffee & smoothies as well as wine and bottled & draft beer. Photo by Hannah Leyva.
Sundays Cafe serves coffee and smoothies as well as wine and beer, both bottled and draft. Photo by Hannah Leyva.

“We want the locals to come in and have a good time,” Ruehle said. “We want surfers to come in their wetsuits, dripping water all over the floor.”

With a surf shop downstairs, the existing community of surfers is one that Ruehle is hoping will be a big part of her clientele base.

“We’ll have the surf cam on in the mornings and probably a surf movie on the rest of the day,” Ruehle said, gesturing to the two televisions in the café. The 1966 surf classic “The Endless Summer” has been playing on the one behind the bar since the place opened, according to Ruehle.

“We’re hoping to one day have community surfing days, where we shut down the building and take everyone out to the water,” Ruehle said of future plans to collaborate with Sundays Café’s downstairs neighbor. “People seem to be really interested in that.”

For now, Ruehle and her team are working on building a loyal customer base by providing food and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks with friendly, approachable service in classic North Carolina beach town style. Though it opened on April 23 and has not yet had a grand opening, the café has done steady business thanks to word of mouth and a growing following on social media.

“We want people to come in and enjoy themselves in this great location,” Ruehle said.

Sundays Café is open seven days a week: from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays. A grand opening will be held in the next few weeks.