Thursday, July 25, 2024

Small Bites: Commodore and The Bend eye opening dates

Inside The Parlor House, a cocktail bar on the 3-acre property of The Bend, located in Ogden. (Courtesy photo)

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — Lots of movement happens around the Port City when it comes to restaurants, food trucks, bars and bottle shops, not to mention organizational and nonprofit foodie events and festivals. While Port City Daily already covers most of this news, “Small Bites” offers another way for readers to stay in the know.

READ MORE: Wilmington chef raises $15K for Food Bank in honor of James Beard nomination

Commodore Public House will be located next to the Kitchen Sink on Fourth Street, (Port City Daily/File)

Commodore Public House and Kitchen 

Don’t confuse it with the floating private club that’s making its way to Wrightsville Beach, this Commodore Public House and Kitchen is opening in the Brooklyn Arts District by the first week in July.

Behind the pub is Wes Westlye and Travis Weiss, who also own downtown’s Rebellion and Fox’s Hole in the Wall. Westlye has been working on opening another restaurant in the North Fourth district of downtown since before the pandemic.

The 1,300-square-foot restaurant will be at 620 N. Fourth St. They chose the area due to its tight-knit communal vibe among residents in nearby condos — The Brooklyn and Modern Baking Co. — as well as local businesses, such as Goat and Compass, Bottega, Palate and three10. 

“There is a true sense of community amongst the business owners in BAC,” Westlye said. “We’re also super excited based off the feedback and support we’ve received from local residents who’ve watched this thing play out since the stone ages.”

It’s not the first time Westlye has opened a Commodore; he originally had one in D.C. but sold it in 2019. It has since reopened under new management. 

Westlye closed on the BAD property with plans to upfit the space four years ago, but then Covid-19 shut down the world. Since then, a slew of other delays — permitting and restructuring of his restaurant group, Proof Hospitality — have stalled its opening. 

“And then the process of a complete upfit and buildout,” Westlye said, who’s been handling the major upfit personally. “620 N. Fourth had never been a bar or restaurant.”

He has had to install in-ground and above-ground plumbing and rewire electrical. Zeke Nathans and Urban Building Corp has helped the group make it past the finish line, according to Westlye.

The restaurant seats almost 30, with 14 at the bar and 14 in the dining area. To the side of the restaurant will be a beer garden that Westlye will renovate as the restaurant is open to the public. The goal is to open the outdoor area by 2025.

“With so much time, we overhauled the menu quite a bit,” he added.

Originally, a smoker was going to be onsite, but that has been scrapped. The elevated pub fare will still have Caribbean flair in its appetizers, salads, sandwiches and entrees.

For instance, a cheesesteak Cuban sandwich, one of Westlye’s favorite items. 

“It’s a spin on a roast pork sandwich,” he said.

There will be a meat-and-three section, featuring two specialty meats: churrasco (chimichurri-marinated skirt steak) and masitas de puerco (mojo-marinated, baked and then flash fried pork loin).

The same island vibe will be carried behind the pine, which will have a strong tequila and rum section. 

“The bar program is going to be fun!” Westlye assured.

The menu was crafted by Nathanial Fabian, who runs a consulting firm, Spirits and Solutions. 

“Nate has been a longtime bar steward at Pinpoint Restaurant,” Westlye said. “We are very excited about this collab — Nate is one of the most highly respected mixologists in Wilmington and took our ideas and ran with them.”

There are lots of tree coverage and pathways across 3 acres of property on The Bend, with The Parlor House opening June 24, followed by two other businesses: Grumpy’s soft-serve ice cream and Middlesound Grill by August. (Courtesy photo)

The Bend

After renovating almost 3 acres in Ogden to become The Bend, owner Randy Tarr is looking at a June 24 opening for one of three businesses to be located on the property. 

Tarr spoke to PCD earlier this winter about transforming the 2,000-square-foot ranch brick home to become a bar and lounge, The Parlor House, slated to open first. 

“The place is amazing,” Tarr said Friday. “It honestly turned out even better than I could have expected; it is truly a gem in this town and 10 degrees cooler because of all the trees and landscaping.”

The Parlor House evokes a speakeasy vibe, with leather and velvet couches, hosting around 50 people indoors. However, the outdoor area is sprawling, with a 20-by-40 deck — also partially covered — featuring more seating. There is also a gazebo, benches, picnic tables and a stage, surrounded by greenery, trees and pathways.

It leads to a 60-by-200-foot open space to host farmers markets, parties and other events. Tarr said he already has one event on the books, but couldn’t announce it by press. There will be live music every Thursday through Sunday.

Tarr has hired 10 people to help run the operation, including bar manager Joseph Petrof, an industry veteran who last worked in Southport. More than seven cocktails have been devised for the opening; a standout is Petrof’s Strawberry Rain.

“It’s the one that I came up with years ago,” he said. 

Tequila is muddled with fresh strawberries and rhubarb bitters, shaken with lemon juice and topped with ginger beer. 

“You do not taste that tequila,” Petrof said. “It is a light summer sipper.”

The Parlor House will open at 11 a.m. daily for people to enjoy coffee and utilize wifi for work or gather with friends. The operation is also family-friendly, located near the Ogden YMCA. It will close by 11 p.m. nightly or midnight on weekends. 

Tarr has plans to transform two garages on the property into Grumpy’s, a soft-serve ice cream parlor, and Middlesound Grill, a restaurant. Both will debut likely by the end of August.

Grumpy’s will be operated by Tarr, who has a soft spot for soft-serve. He told Port City Daily in February the ice cream parlor was always his “retirement plan.” The menu will be basic: chocolate, vanilla and twist flavors, offered with various toppings, as well as banana splits, sundaes, flurries and the like. 

Middlesound Grill will be operated by Chris Politis, who opened Saltwater Renovations in 2018. He met Tarr years ago after being hired to do renovations on his home; Tarr reached out again when it came to upfitting The Bend.

“We work really well together,” said Politis, who also has a background in the restaurant industry. 

His family has owned multiple eateries in Brunswick County, including Castaways Raw Bar and Dock House Seafood, both in Holden Beach. 

“So I grew up in the industry,” Politis said. “In the down season I always worked construction jobs, which is why I opened a renovation business. I never really thought I’d get back into restaurants but this opportunity was too perfect and the whole property of The Bend has a vibe unlike anywhere else in Wilmington.”

Politis will open Middlesound Grill in a 500-square-foot building that will also have a covered patio from where diners can order. Food runners will deliver items anywhere on The Bend campus. 

“I imagine we will be doing a lot of takeout as well,” Politis said, noting the numerous apartment complexes that are popping up in the area and many residents on nearby Middlesound Loop Road or in Ogden Park.

Politis plans to keep the menu small at first, roughly 12 items. Though it hasn’t been fully devised, he is considering brisket tacos, mahi sandwich, grouper bites, smashburger, Greek chicken pita, as well as specialty items for vegetarians. There will be appetizers, sandwiches and sides, on average priced $13 to $16.

“It will be gourmet pub food,” Politis said, “with a focus on local, fresh ingredients. And there’ll be an abundance of food so you’re not going to leave hungry.”

He plans to open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily and will hire around 10 people to take care of day-to-day operations.

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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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