Monday, July 15, 2024

Two Guys Grille owner opening bottle shop in Porters Neck

Brewha will be located in the far-right corner unit, located at 7946 Market St. (Port City Daily/Shea Carver)

WILMINGTON — Jesse Wangler has been watching the northern part of Wilmington grow rapidly over the last 18 years since opening Two Guys Grille.

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Traffic has at least tripled, he said anecdotally; now seemed as good a time as any to open a secondary business. With sights set on an April opening, Brewha bottle shop will be coming to 7946 Market St., located less than a mile away from his Oak Landing Shopping Center restaurant.

The 1,120-square-foot-space Wangler is taking over is in a hidden-away plaza beside Aldi. It backs up to the Marsh Oaks subdivision and Amberleigh Shores apartments. The bottle shop will be stocked with hundreds of products, including 12 taps and up to 10 wines by the glass.

It will seat roughly 50 indoors, but the outside area is the crown jewel, Wangler detailed.

“It’s really what drew me to the property,” he said. “It’s quiet back here — a really cool spot.”

There is 3,000-square-feet of green space, including trees offering shade. It will be peppered by specially-made high-top four-seaters and regular picnic tables. A children’s area will have a magnet board and chalkboard for families to enjoy activities. An outdoor stage is being built to feature weekend music and the parking lot is large enough for food trucks to plug into a pump house that has been wired so trucks don’t have to run on generators.

Wangler has a partnership with First Bite food truck to serve brunch every Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m. The bottle shop will offer coffee and mimosas, along with their normal inventory. 

“Corey [Maxon, the owner of First Bite] lives behind here,” Wangler said. “His breakfast is really good and we think this area needs another breakfast option.”

Wangler said building relationships with clientele from Two Guys over the years has been a driving force to start the bottle shop. This style of business grew in popularity among families who once frequented Fermental, which operated in Ogden until it was forced to move due to an incoming Take 5 Oil Change. Fermental has since relocated and opened in the Cargo District, on the outskirts of downtown in 2022. 

Since then, multiple businesses in the northern region of the county have popped up to fill the hole in the market, including Freya’s Haus, opening in Scotts Hill last fall, and The Bend incoming near Seven Mile Post soon.

“We’re definitely not reinventing the wheel here,” Wangler said, “but this comes down to proximity and location. Marsh Oaks — it’s one of the youngest family neighborhoods in New Hanover County, so when this popped up, it just made sense. They can walk or bike or drive the golf cart over.”

Wilson said he has built a strong following in the area over the last two decades, with customers repeatedly asking him to consider a family-friendly space. He compares the change to when Two Guys first opened in the area near Wrightsville Beach.

“Back then, you would say Porters Neck and a lot of times unless you were from Wilmington, people didn’t even really know what side of town that was,” Wangler explained.

Such is not the case anymore, as seen with constant changes along the northern corridor of Market Street. It’s evident by the Military Cutoff Extension work by NCDOT, eventually slated to connect to the Hampstead Bypass. The goal is to help decongest traffic, as more housing developments, apartments and other complexes, including commercial businesses, have sprouted in the region.

“But there’s never been a ton of independent retail back in this little shopping center,” Wangler said.

The strip mall consists of a few daycare centers and a garage-door supply shop. Before Wangler took over, the office was a cat rescue. He began renovations at the end of 2023 and has been knocking down walls to make the room more open.

An industrial aesthetic, ceilings are now exposed and Wangler installed a custom-made 20-foot, Sapele-wood bar. A few TVs will be installed above it, as will a flip board beer menu, also featuring various quotes, messages, and the weather forecast.

Brewha — its red-white-and-blue oval-shaped logo similar to a throwback Amoco gas station brand — is spelled out in a floor-to-ceiling wall consisting of retro beer cans, donated by a friend.

“It’s like a mural,” Wangler said.

Brewha is spelled out on a floor-to-ceiling wall of retro beer cans; the bottle shop will open by April. (Courtesy Jesse Wangler)

He has hired Graham Wilson as operations manager. Wilson originally honed his customer-service chops in his family’s pharmacy business. But he didn’t love being in the industry and switched to hospitality in 2016.

He met Wangler through a mutual friend in the craft brewing scene. Wilson worked at Waterline Brewing as assistant brewer and seller manager and helped Flying Machine open its taproom and restaurant in Wrightsville Beach. Recently, he has been working for downtown’s Fermental.

“I love it there — and many of the Ogden customers still come downtown,” Wilson said, but added he couldn’t pass on an opportunity to grow more in the profession. 

Wilson is looking forward to bringing events to that side of town, including farmers, vintage and artisan markets. He also plans to host brewery representatives for various tap takeovers and promote more local business as much as possible. 

“I’d like to carry Mouth Meat products, for example,” he said — a new homemade jerky business in town. “Finding more stuff like that — where you can come into one place and support up to like three or four local businesses.”

“The bottle shop business may traditionally feel a little stuffy, but Graham makes it fun,” Wangler said.

Brewha will operate from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays, and until 11 p.m. on Friday. Saturday hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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