WILMINGTON — With a building design inspired by the volcano Mount Kilimanjaro, a new restaurant and bar will be coming to a busy section of town.
To be owned and operated by Rodrick and Shirlene James, Kilimanjaro is working through the technical review process. Architect Rob Romero told Port City Daily if all goes according to plan, construction could begin by summer.
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The 2,500-square-foot restaurant would be located at 215 Wright St., on a 0.19-acre lot close to the intersection of 3rd and Dawson streets — the main entry into Wilmington from the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge. NCDOT tracks approximately 17,000 cars traveling in the northbound and southbound lanes of 3rd Street at Dawson daily.
Kilimanjaro is located directly beside Pinnacle Storage Unit which overlooks Dawson. To the right of the restaurant is Lovitt’s Auto Sales.
Property records show the Jameses have owned the land, zoned UMX, since 2000.
“They’re new to the game,” Romero said, “but they’ve got family who have done restaurant work, so they’re just getting into the ownership of it.”
Kilimanjaro’s location is directly on the pathway to the South Front District from downtown, making it a prime location, Romero added.
“There’s a lot happening in the area,” he said. “True Blue, Mariposa, Benny’s Big Time. A lot of people now live in that area who can walk over to the restaurant. So it’s got a good synergy happening.”
Romero has done multiple projects locally, both in residential and commercial sectors, many with historical appeal. His work can be seen in New Anthem, End of Days, Fermental, and the Hive Airbnb.
Kilimanjaro leans into Romero’s modern aesthetic, from the curvature of the building to the bright red peaks popping from the top. Romero was inspired by the dormant volcano in Tanzania, Africa.
“I started thinking about the name, the shape and started leaning the walls back like a volcano,” he said.
He chose red to allude to lava.
“It would be really cool if we could do smoke emanating from the spires,” Romero said with a laugh. “Add some drama and excitement.”
Nothing is set in stone, as the county and city still have to weigh in on the plans. If they do take shape according to the restaurateurs’ and Romero’s vision, Kilimanjaro would seat almost 100 diners — more than 40 outside and 50 inside. Designs show a 14-seat bar and multiple lounge areas consisting of sofas and chairs with small tables that promote intimate spaces.
“We do want a bit more of a casual seating and vibe,” he said, foregoing traditional table setups of only two-tops and four-tops.
The owners are still working on the menu; however, it will feature mid-priced entrees, right now to be American cuisine — “steaks and stuff,” Romero said.
The architect added they’ve reached out to Kevin Corbett — who Romero also helped in building Chicken in the Box — and Keith Rhodes of Catch for menu consultation.
“It would be fun to throw in some African flavors to fit the name,” Romero indicated. “But the owners will have a better handle on the menu as we get further along.”
The restaurant will include a full bar and could open by the end of 2023 or beginning of 2024.
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