Friday, April 12, 2024

Fave Chapel Hill restaurant, sports bar expands to WB area, to open in April

Once Soundside Raw Bar, the restaurant on Eastwood Road will open as Four Corners by April. (Port City Daily/Ginny Smith)

WILMINGTON —  The newest addition to Eastwood Road will bring quality food, drinks, and a dose of UNC culture to Wilmington. 

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After numerous requests from Wilmington locals, Kristian Bawcom, owner of Four Corners, said the need was clear for a high-quality, laid-back, and sports-centered establishment in the area. 

“We’ve had an apartment (in Wrightsville Beach) for the past few years. And every time I go, people are just like: ‘Kristian, please, open up Four Corners here, we need something like that,’” Bawcom said.

Newly found free time, as the result of his college-enrolled daughter, and a love for Wrightsville Beach prompted him to pull the trigger to open an additional Four Corners location.

Bawcom discovered 2025 Eastwood Rd. — which last operated as Soundside Seafood and Raw Bar and before that Boca Bay — was a perfect fit. He purchased it for $2.6 million, according to New Hanover County property records, from Urban Food Group, which owns Osteria Cicchetti and Brasserie du Soleil. 

Four Corners is 4,568 square feet and will seat up to 150 diners indoors, and up to100 diners outdoors.

The original Four Corners in Chapel Hill is nestled in the heart of UNC’s social scene on Franklin Street. Named after a basketball offensive strategy heavily utilized by late UNC basketball coach Dean Smith, Bawcom bought Four Corners 15 years ago. It first opened in 1979, by author and sports journalist Art Chansky, assistant UNC basketball coach Eddie Fogler, and six other limited partners. For 45 years, it has been a popular home base for sports fans to watch games, from the NCAA tournament to NFL games.

“I didn’t even know all of the history of four corners like what it meant to Chapel Hill until I purchased it,” Bawcom admitted. “I think taking the history of Four Corners and kind of combining it with the knowledge that I had with the food and beverage industry was the perfect marriage.”  

Bawcom has been in the restaurant industry for more than 30 years, working part-time gigs before and throughout his collegiate years in Florida, to becoming a partner of a MGR restaurant group in Texas. Four Corners is the only restaurant he has owned solo. Bawcom moved to North Carolina with his Chapel Hill-native wife from Florida as a result of her desire to return home. 

Wrightsville Beach’s Four Corners is on track to open mid-April, amidst hefty renovations. 

“We completely gutted it,” Bawcom said. 

Chapel Hill’s Four Corners features retro black-and-white tile floors, exposed brick walls, and a wood-paneled upper level of seating. The new location is planned to have a more modern feel.

“It’s kind of a blank canvas,” Bawcom said. “We are getting creative and going to do a lot of really cool things with this spot. And so, it’s going to be unique.”

Construction involves taking down walls, opening up spaces, and creating a separate party room, to be dedicated to private watch parties and various large gatherings, with space for a DJ. 

Balcom is not hesitant to give Chapel Hill credit where it is due, stating the Wrightsville Beach Four Corners will still lean into the Tar Heel base, but it also will fold in the Seahawks, with several UNCW jerseys included in decor. There also will be PGA and NFL memorabilia featured, with ample TVs throughout the restaurant.

He never classifies Four Corners as a “sports bar,” as it traditionally sells more food than beer, wine and liquor. 

“We make our food from scratch in the kitchen,” Bawcom said. “I’m really, really proud of the product that we serve … if I don’t think it’s good, it’s not on our menu. And so that’s really what I think keeps our long-term success going is the fact that we have really good food.” 

The menu is set to be similar to its flagship location — definitively American, with various burgers, wings, ribs, chops, sandwiches, salads, and appetizers. A potential rotating fresh seafood menu, including shrimp and a fresh catch, could be in the works for Wrightsville Beach  — a nod to the proximity of the ocean. 

To further attest to Four Corner’s integrity, Bawcom said he is committed to maintaining a quality dining experience. Four Corners is planning to keep it “old-school,” reluctant to add common technological quirks to the dining experience, such as QR codes in place of menus. 

“Some of the places now, you sit down, you put the order in on your phone, and then a food runner brings out food and there’s very little interaction,” he said. “Is that what people are looking for when they go out to eat? I certainly don’t want to ever be like that.” 

Bawcom is hiring roughly 60 people to run front and back-of-the-house throughout the coming weeks. 

“I’m going to be aggressive with making sure we pay people well,” he said. “It’s important for us to get the right people in there.

While the Wrightsville Beach location is the first offshoot, Bawcom said conversations are also happening among investors to potentially bring a Four Corners to the Charlotte area — though nothing is set in stone. Right now, getting the Wrightsville Beach location up and running is his main focus.

“We are going to do a lot of cool things with this spot, it’s going to be awesome,” 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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