SURF CITY — When Kristen Cummings, her husband Trey, and their two business partners were considering a name for their new steakhouse in Surf City, they thought ‘Surf City Steakhouse’ might be a bit trite.
So Trey began digging into the history of Topsail Island, where he read that before World War II local farmers apparently herded their livestock across the Intracoastal Waterway at low tide to graze on wild grass because there was no bridge to the island at the time.
From there it was pretty easy, and they settled on Low Tide Steakhouse and Sandbar.
The Cummings own a steakhouse in Clinton, about 30 miles east of Fayetteville, in the middle of hog country. For years they wanted to move to the beach, and the decision happened to be made during a stressful 2020 — Kristen was diagnosed with breast cancer in February, and in March they had to shut down their dining area when the state rolled out strict Covid-19 regulations.
“But with kids not being able to be socialized, we thought, ‘What the heck, why not? Let’s just go ahead and sell everything and move to the beach,'” Kristen Cummings said.
They sold their house in Clinton on August 10, Kristen had surgery on August 11, and they closed on a new home in Hampstead on August 26. A month later, the four partners bought the retail space recently vacated by Quartermaster’s Restaurant and Tavern on Highway 50, next to the giant alligator that sits outside Bargain Beachwear.
On Thursday, hours after the four investors signed the paperwork to own the space, Kristen said she expected to open the restaurant by the end of October. They’ve already created a tentative menu, which offers more steak varieties (New York strip, ribeye, and filet) than what their Ribeye Steakhouse of Clinton now offers, supplemented mostly by seafood options rather than pork plates. (Although, the new restaurant will still serve a sweet-tea-brined, bone-in pork chop.)
The Cummings will continue to grind their own burgers using trimmings from the ribeye and tenderloin cuts and will cut and dress the tenderloin themselves for the 6-ounce and 10-ounce filets.
Kristen expects the chicken wings to be popular as well because she has seen a large increase in wing orders at their Clinton restaurant during the pandemic.
“Our wings have just completely taken over. I think we quadrupled our wing sales with takeout orders, and it’s still booming,” she said.
The bar will offer a solid North Carolina craft beer selection (including beers from Salty Turtle Beer Company, located just a block east) and focus on bourbons, she said.
As for Kristen, even though she plans to continue chemotherapy treatments until April, she expects the year will end on a postive note.
“The beginning of 2020 was not fun, but the end will be wonderful,” she said.
Low Tide Steakhouse is located at 13741 NC-50 in Surf City and is expected to open by the end of October.
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