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Monday, May 20, 2024

Diver Surfside Cafe plans to open within weeks near Surf City Bridge

Diver Surfside Cafe plans to open sometime within the next few weeks, serving beer, wine, coffee, smoothies, juices — and eventually — sandwiches, salads, and appetizers. (Port City Daily photo / Mark Darrough)

SURF CITY — As the largest of three towns connected to Topsail Island continues to grow, Surf City visitors and residents will soon be able to sip their choice of coffee, beer, wine, smoothie, or juice while sitting on a patio looking out at the Intracoastal and the Surf City Bridge. 

Co-owner and long-time Surf City resident Emily Lara said she hopes to open Divers Surfside Cafe sometime within the week, depending on building permits, but certainly by sometime in September.

The two-story, salmon-colored building sits between the marsh and an old bait shop on the mainland side of the Intracoastal, across the street from the Sears Landing restaurant, where Lara worked for about eight years before she decided to open her own place with her sister and her sister’s husband. The two would come to visit from Nashville, she said, and began noticing there weren’t many healthy food or drink options in the tourism-dominated coastal town.

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“They wanted to go on a bike ride to a juice shop, but there was nothing like that around here,” she recalled. “A lot of fried seafood, which is great, but they wanted something healthier.”

The two sisters dreamed of opening a smoothie and juice bar, but the idea soon expanded because, as Lara described it, her brother-in law “is a coffee and beer fanatic.” When she noticed the building was available while working at Sear’s Landing, they decided to jump on the opportunity and let the concept evolve from there.

The building’s modern interior layout is filled with natural light from large windows on each wall, some looking out the bridge, and a skylight.

The coffee will be supplied by Counter Culture in Durham, which also supplied the trio with the brewing equipment, according to Lara. She said they’ll open with five different juices and six smoothies, and customers will be able to customize each by using either coconut water or homemade nut milks — the latter made by soaking almonds, cashews and other nuts, then blending and straining them.

“It’s so much better than store-bought [nut milk],” she said. “It’s creamier and it doesn’t have all that carrageenan mixed into it.” (Carrageenan is an extract from Irish moss that has been used for hundreds of years as a thickening agent but there’s some controversy of its potential toxicity — with some scientists showing evidence that it is toxic to the digestive tract and others refuting that argument.)

She said they’ll make chocolate and strawberry versions of the nut milk, and, along with their juices, they’ll package and sell them from a cooler near the front entrance.

Although opening during a pandemic has allowed them to take more time to carefully think things through, she also said it has presented some major challenges — from acquiring the necessary building and alcohol permits to finishing their conversion of the building from a real estate office to a cafe.

“It’s been hard to find workers,” Lara said. “Even getting a plumber in here to do a three-week job — it was massive — they said, ‘We can’t come in today because someone has Covid.’ And it would set us back a few more days.”

A staircase in the center of the roughly 2,500-square-foot building leads to various seating areas upstairs, and Lara said they plan to turn one room into a beer and wine bar.

In the future, the three family members also plan to serve healthy food options, including light sandwiches, soups, salads, and appetizers like charcuterie boards that pair well with a glass of wine or a cold beer.

Looking out over the bait shop next door, she said if it ever hits the market, they may consider buying it and converting it into a “funky, 50s, retro tiki bar,” and possibly rebuilding the dock.

In addition to traditional coffee options, according to Lara, the first-phase menu for the opening will include:


  • The Diver – coconut water, cashews, dates, carrot, beet, vanilla, strawberries 
  • The Cannonball – housemade almond mylk, cherries, cashews, cacao powder, dates, vanilla, sea salt, cayenne
  • The Summersault – coconut water, lime, spinach, cilantro, pineapple, cucumber, jalapeno, sea salt 
  • The Lifeguard – housemade almond mylk, banana, kale, spinach, cashew, dates, vanilla, flax, spirulina 
  • The Half Twist – greek yogurt, mango, lemon, turmeric, ginger, honey, vanilla 
  • The Springboard – housemade almond mylk, blueberries, dates, avocado, flax, chia, cinnamon, sea salt 

Editor’s Note: ‘Mylk’ implies that the liquid is non-dairy based.


  • No. 1 – celery, green apple, cucumber, cilantro, ginger, spirulina 
  • No. 2 – pineapple, carrot, cucumber, green apple, lemon, turmeric 
  • No. 3 – pineapple, orange, beet, turmeric 
  • No. 4 – celery, cucumber, bok choy, spinach, parsley, lemon 
  • No. 5 – beet, green apple, carrot, lemon, ginger 

Smoothie Bowls 

  • Acai Bowl – acai blend (acai puree, coconut water, banana, blueberry, honey) with almond butter, housemade granola, coconut flakes, cocoa nibs, fresh fruit, honey 
  • The Half Twist Bowl – Half Twist smoothie base (greek yogurt, mango, lemon, turmeric, ginger, honey) with housemade granola, fresh fruit, coconut flakes, hemp hearts 

Diver Surfside Cafe is located at 809 Roland Avenue in Surf City. Once open, its hours will be 7 a.m. to either 5:30 or 6 p.m. — and possibly 9:30 p.m. in the summertime.

View more pictures of Diver Surfside Cafe below:

The interior layout is modern, spacious, and filled with natural light. (Port City Daily photo / Mark Darrough)

The coffee bar overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway and the Surf City Bridge. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

The second floor includes seating areas and a future wine and beer bar. (Port City Daily photo / Mark Darrough)

A second-floor seating area. (Port City Daily photo / Mark Darrough)

The view from the back patio, looking out over the Intracoastal and the Surf City Bridge. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

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