WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH — As manager Michelle Rice was closing up the Coffee Stop at 10:30 a.m. on its opening day, Saturday, June 12, she said a line already had begun to form nearby at the door. The operation was changing shifts from serving Americanos to pushing Cape Fear, Battleship and Surfer dogs aplenty at Trolly Stop.
The iconic hot-dog shop opened in 1976 and serves lunch daily — as well as dinner and even late nights on weekends. Now, it’s adding morning hours into the mix, as The Coffee Stop flips open the sign at 6:30 a.m. seven days a week. Located a block from the beach, beside Wings, the small, unassuming red, yellow and tan building now has the addition of a walk-up window, welcoming customers for a morning boost.
“There’s a great amount of foot traffic there,” Rice said of the 94 Lumina Ave. address.
Trolly Stop serves a couple hundred customers a day — surfers heading for the waves, tourists staking an early spot on the shore, or exercisers making a pit stop on their trip around the Loop. Rice said during Coffee Stop’s opening weekend, it added 100 or so more customers.
Owner Rusty Carter — who took over the Wrightsville and Chapel Hill businesses five years ago — decided the timing was right to expand the Stop’s branding. “Several coffee businesses had closed in downtown Wrightsville Beach during the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said, “and Trolly Stop had available hours to serve the public.”
Though its business offerings expanded, the square footage of the building did not. The Trolly Stop space still remains tight; the Coffee Stop takes up 65 of the restaurant’s 500 square feet. It took only light electrical and plumbing construction to get up and running, according to Rice.
The Coffee Stop menu remains simple: Americanos, cappuccinos and lattes made fresh from an Astra espresso maker. The shop also serves drip coffee — including decaf — and sells Red Eyes, cold brews and hot chocolate.
“Our current roast is organic Peru and organic Ethiopian dark-roast blend,” Rice said, “and a medium roast organic Colombian blend.”
The general manager is still choosing between two local roasters to provide The Coffee Stop’s primary blends. Yet, the company settled on Arianna Farms’ Ono Kona Coffee from Holualoa, Hawaii, as its premium cup.
“We’re very excited about it,” Rice said. “It’s 100% Kona coffee — really high-end, sourced directly from the Big Island of Hawaii.”
Though java is the star of the stop, the Sunrise Dog — smoked sausage on a steamed bun, with or without cheese — will be sold also. Rice remained mum as to whether more breakfast items will be added in the future. For now, she said the idea is to keep it simple and “provide a food option specifically for people to pick up a quick bite” while on their way to the beach or work.
Both Coffee Stop and Trolly Stop also has committed to lightening its environmental footprint. It’s partnering with A New Earth Project — founded by surf photographer Peter King and Carter, who is also CEO of Atlantic Packaging — to help prevent plastics from ending up in the ocean.
“We’re using eco-friendly products,” Rice said, “not just recyclable, but we want compostable bamboo straws and paper products.”
The Coffee Stop opens 6:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. daily, and menu prices range from $2.25-$4.25. The Trolly Stop opens for lunch from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. daily. On Fridays and Saturdays, its hours are extended to 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. – 3 a.m.
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