WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH — A floating two-story restaurant more than a year in the works announced a popular outfit will oversee its dining operations by the time it opens in 2024.
Giorgios Hospitality Group, which recently launched Kipos Hellenic Cuisine in Lumina Station, announced Monday it will run The Commodore Club at Wrightsville Yacht Club.
Wrightsville Yacht Club is the parent company of Wrightsville Beach Marina, located along the Intracoastal Waterway. In October 2021, the Wrightsville Beach Planning Board signed off on a code change to allow “marina clubhouses” to be built in very restrictive circumstances: only within marinas adjacent to the Intracoastal and with at least 75 boat slips, according to previous Port City Daily reporting.
It cleared the way for a 6,000-square-foot boutique restaurant to be built on a barge by Monteith Construction. The project is in its preliminary stage of construction in Florida, and as it’s moved to Wilmington in January 2023, Monteith will complete the “superstructure” — designed by Kersting Architecture — for build-out.
Brad Matthews, president of the Commodore Club board of directors, expects the space to be the “premiere waterfront social club and dining experience in the Cape Fear region.”
The first-floor deck will be open to the public, yet all other areas will be exclusive to club members. Diners with reservations — no walk-ins allowed — will be able to access it by boat or car.
So far 300 out of 400 memberships have sold, according to the club’s board of directors. Memberships are priced at $20,000.
There will be three separate dining areas, including a main room to host 80 people, with an umbrellaed terrace offering more waterfront seating. It also will have an upstairs cocktail lounge, both with indoor and outdoor seating, and include a private room for parties and events.
Restaurant group founder Giorgios Bakatsias said the menu, while still in the early stages of development, will focus on flavors indicative of the southeastern shore.
“We’re floating on the sea, so we’ll pay great respect to the seafood from the coast,” he said.
There will be heavy emphasis on American dining staples, including classic surf-and-turf options, as well as chops and vegetables. A “variety of menus – from casual to finer dining” will suit various palates, Bakatsias said.
Bakatsias expects the announcement of Commodore’s executive chef to be made in coming months.
Tapping the James Beard nominee to run the club was an organic process, as Bakatsias has been a friend of David Allen, the Wrightsville Yacht Club president. Allen made the introduction and the Commodore board reported “an instant connection” and shared vision to strive for culinary excellence.
It’s not the first time Bakatsias has partnered on specialized dining experiences. He operates 15 restaurants statewide, some in unexpected areas, such as Nasher Museum Café in Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art in Durham.
“Private experiences have always been a signature offering,” Bakatsias said of his restaurant group, “whether at our properties or in patron’s homes.”
Throughout his almost 40-year career, the businessman has launched upward of 50 eateries and was recognized in 2022 as North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association’s restaurateur of the year. The Greek entrepreneur doesn’t seem to be slowing down, either.
Apart from opening Port City’s Kipos in September, Bakatsias opened an Asian street-food restaurant, Krill, in Durham. He has plans to launch a new pizzeria, Giorgio Pizza Bar, a French restaurant, East End Bistrot, and Spanish tapas at Las Ramblas in Raleigh in coming months.
Each restaurant Bakatsias scales includes a refined eye for colorful design, often embracing fine art, hand-painted accents and murals. He will help create the vibe of the Commodore Club, though no formal plans have been revealed on what to expect.
“It’s an honor to have been chosen for this project,” Bakatsias said, “and reaffirms the club’s focus in reflecting the best in restaurant dining in the region.”
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