Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Inside Panacea’s new taproom and restaurant opening this weekend

Owners Artie and Robin Hill found an old VW bus in Robin's hometown of Anderson, South Carolina and had the front cut off and put on a trailer, where it now hangs above the new taproom's lounge area. (Port City Daily
Owners Artie and Robin Hill found an old VW bus in Anderson, South Carolina, and had the front cut off with a sawzall. It now hangs above their new taproom’s lounge area. (Port City Daily

WILMINGTON — Starting this weekend kombucha lovers can kick back on a sofa and sip on their choice of locally brewed fermented teas, alcoholic or otherwise, beneath the front end of a VW bus.

Panacea Brewing Company is opening its new taproom and vegetarian restaurant on Saturday morning in Anderson Square off Oleander Drive. Owner Artie Hill said the new space is a culmination of the three years he and his wife, Robin, have invested into the business.

RELATED: Wilmington’s Panacea Brewing Co. now selling ‘elevated kombucha,’ will soon brew kombucha beer

“Panacea is a part of us,” Hill said. “We started from nothing and we’ve always mirrored what we felt in our hearts into our business. We’ve never really followed anybody; we always just kind of did what we liked, and people liked it, so we just kept doing that.”

The new space is considerably larger than Panacea’s original taproom on Old Eastwood Road — which will be open its final day on Saturday — and will feature a vegan and vegetarian food menu, a wine and liquor bar, 10 taps dedicated to Wilmington craft beers, and a wide selection of kombucha made in their Market Street brewery.

Kombucha is a tea brewed and fermented from a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, enjoyed by many for its probiotic health benefits.

Food will include fermented pickles, ginger and turmeric carrots, and sauerkraut prepared by Executive Chef Dennis Myers, who worked as Executive Sous Chef for Hilton Hotels in Raleigh prior to his move to Wilmington.

Co-owner Robin Hill, second from left, points to a Grateful Dead tribute inside the kitchen while training staff members. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

“Keeping focus on the latest culinary trends and pushing the limits of ordinary ingredients, while working with new ingredients, is a strong passion for me,” Myers said. “The opportunity to join Panacea on their journey to bring Wilmington a new, plant-based menu was one I could not pass up,” Myers said.

The initial tap lineup will include beers from Wilmington Brewing Company, Wrightsville Beach Brewery, Bill’s Brewing, Flying Machine, Broomtail, and Good Hops in Carolina Beach.

Eclectic vibes

Hill tapped Panacea’s finance manager and in-house designer, Kelly Waters, to come up with the interior layout — an eclectic design that incorporates the Hills’ personalities and ultimately the Panacea brand they have developed.

“A lot of what you see in the space is from Art’s personal collection,” Waters said. “He’s a huge music buff. So we’ve got everything from concert tickets to posters and everything in between. I think it really reflects he and Robin together — and the unique brand they built that everybody knows in Wilmington.”

Lyrics from Hill’s favorite band, Grateful Dead, are painted throughout the space. On the wall of one of the bathrooms it reads, “Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right,” above a smiling moon and sun.

An artist who recently moved from California to Wilmington, Erica Nelson of Mural Modern, painted a large mural above the bar, which shows Panacea’s trademark yellow VW van, the “Boochbus,” with wings — a design created by Matt Ebbing of Ebbing Branding and Design for one of Panacea’s single-use kombucha bottle labels.

“But the rest of it is her just knowing us and interpreting what we want,” Hill said. “We didn’t tell her what to paint, she just painted it.”

He and his wife were at a fermentation festival in Asheville when they drove through Anderson, South Carolina, and discovered a VW bus behind the house of a man who restores the old vehicles. The rear of the bus was in a deteriorated state.

“But the front was in great shape — normally we wouldn’t cut off the front of a VW bus — and he took a sawzall and with three guys cut it off and put it in a trailer for us to take home,” Hill said.

Now the bus hangs on the wall above the taproom’s lounge area.

Panacea’s new taproom and restaurant is located at 4107 Oleander Drive (Unit H) in the Anderson Square shopping center. It will resume its normal operating hours, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week, but will close its kitchen on Mondays. Find more information on the website here.

View more pictures of the space below:

Art Hill’s VW van parked outside the new Panacea taproom and restaurant in Anderson Square off Oleander Drive. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
The outside window of Panacea’s new taproom and restaurant. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
The taproom features a dining area and an outside patio. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Images of Panacea’s trademark VW van and Grateful Dead artwork decorate the bathroom area. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Both bathrooms feature lyrics from Art Hill’s favorite band, Grateful Dead. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Artist Erica Nelson of Mural Modern painted a large mural above the bar that shows Panacea’s trademark yellow VW van, the “Boochbus,” with wings. The design was created by Matt Ebbing of Ebbing Branding and Design for Panacea’s single-use kombucha bottle label. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
The “Boochbus” parked outside Panacea’s new taproom and restaurant. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

Mark Darrough can be reached at Mark@Localvoicemedia.com or (970) 413-3815

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