WILMINGTON — A popular eatery in the LM Restaurant franchise served its last customers Tuesday evening.
Hops Supply Co., known for its brunches and gourmet take on pub food, officially shuttered Wednesday, according to LM’s director of brands Katherine Goldfaden.
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Employees found out Wednesday morning but had the opportunity to either take a severance package or be transferred to one of LM’s other three restaurants — Carolina Ale House, Oceanic or Bluewater.
All employees opted to take positions at the other eateries in town.
Goldfaden said the company has been working on an unsolicited deal to sell the property since last fall when a real estate developer approached the company.
The property sale hasn’t closed yet, though it’s near complete.
“It was the right time for us to go ahead and close the restaurant now so we could offer the team members positions in the other restaurants before we start robustly hiring for the summer season,” she said.
The purchase will include the land and restaurant at 5400 Oleander Dr., as well as an adjacent home, according to Goldfaden. In its stead will be a gas station, though the developer didn’t have formal plans or announcements to share yet.
“They have to have a public hearing and go through their own due diligence,” Goldfaden said.
Hops Supply Co. opened in Wilmington in 2012. It was one of many brands in LM’s portfolio, which also has multiple franchises across the Southeast. Though the local Hops was the only one of its kind.
The Raleigh restaurant group came to the Port City in 2008 after taking over Oceanic, Bluewater, Henry’s and the now-defunct Eddie Romanelli’s from Atlantic Quest restaurant group. LM sold Henry’s to Fares and Zeina Hanna of Durham’s Three Seasons Catering last May.
Hops Supply Co. opened in the former Eddie Romanelli’s spot in midtown and in 2015 plans were underway to expand the restaurant to a second location downtown, but it never came to fruition. LM still owns the former Bank Of America building at 155 N. Front St. and is working on plans for that location.
“We’ve had a lot of guests on our Facebook and our Instagram saying, ‘Gosh, you know, we wish we had more of a heads up you’re closing so we could eat there one last time,” Goldfaden said.
Yet, the closure may not mean Hops is gone forever. LM Restaurants is always looking at properties that would present opportunities to grow, she confirmed.
“Wilmington has always been a good market for us, so, yes, we would love to open another restaurant, possibly another Hops. We just have to find the right spot.”
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