Monday, July 15, 2024

SeaWitch Tiki Bar purchased by Cloud 9, Embassy Suites owners

SeaWitch Tiki Bar, Carolina Beach, 8:10 p.m. (Port City Daily photo | Mark Darrough)
SeaWitch Cafe and Tiki Bar in Carolina Beach is under new ownership. (Port City Daily/File)

CAROLINA BEACH — A hotel management company out of Virginia Beach has purchased a popular music venue and restaurant on Pleasure Island.

Harmony Hospitality is now the owner of SeaWitch Café and Tiki Bar, located at 227 Carolina Beach Ave. N. The price of the acquisition — which doesn’t include the motel across the street — was not disclosed.

The tiki bar opened in 1995 and was purchased by Jenni and Alex Gilewicz in August 2014. Jenni managed the bar for three years before taking over the reins with Alex, who left his job in sales to help oversee it in the last decade.

The Gilewiczes transferred ownership to Harmony Hospitality on Jan. 11. The two are still consulting on operations, according to a press release.

“We are excited to watch SeaWitch continue to grow,” Jenni noted in a statement. “It’s been an incredible adventure. We will be forever grateful for this opportunity, and especially to all the musicians, guests, and coworkers that turned into family along the way.”

SeaWitch has become a hot spot in casual dining, featuring burgers and sandwiches, such as a Cuban or pepper steak sandwich. It’s also seafood forward, from apps (crab dip, ahi tuna nachos) to mahi tacos to Calabash seafood platters.

The restaurant has a large outdoor deck and bar, welcomes live bands throughout the year and hosts multiple island fundraisers.

Harmony Hospitality President Page Johnson II and his wife took funds from the sale of property owned in Florida to invest in the SeaWitch, according to company spokesperson Brooks Johnson. Johnson confirmed there are no major changes planned for the bar and restaurant.

“Just minor repairs and maintenance as needed,” he said. “So far as the aesthetic, we like it just the way it is!”

The same can be said for the menu — nor will staff change, other than an added position to fulfill the past owners’ roles.

“Everything they have been doing seems to be working,” Johnson said.

The hospitality group is also the owner of other establishments in downtown Wilmington, including Cloud 9 Rooftop Bar, Steam Restaurant and Bar and Embassy Suites all located on the riverfront. When assessing properties to add to the Harmony portfolio — which includes eight operating hotel properties in Virginia and one in North Carolina — Johnson said they look at the long-term value.

“We certainly appreciate all that Pleasure Island has to offer and recognize how important our beach communities are for Wilmington’s future,” he said. 

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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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