OAK ISLAND — A popular brewery that got its start in the Triangle is expanding to a Brunswick County beach town. Raleigh-based Lonerider Brewery will take over the former Fish House space with a dog-friendly beer garden, full-service restaurant, live music, and spirits and brews made on site.
The business could open its doors as early as next month. Founder, CEO and chief drinking officer Sumit Vohra said sights are set on a mid-May date, but that could get pushed closer to June.
“We’ve been working on it since beginning of February so we’re all hands on deck, trying to get it done,” Vohra said. “But we also know that proper approvals and applications and everything else takes its own time.”
Lonerider is one of three breweries coming to the island community. Solar Brewing Company on Oak Island Drive and Carolina Crab Brewing Company on Long Beach Road are both expected to open later this year.
Lonerider is remodeling the Fish House space at 57th Place West, once a staple seafood restaurant on the water with heavy tourist traffic.
“Great folks. Great community. Just an awesome place,” Vohra said of Fish House. “We got the opportunity to take over that place … We were always looking to grow, so we said, ‘That sounds like a great idea.’ Oak Island is a great community, and we want to be a part of it.”
The shape of the building will remain unchanged, Vohra said, but plenty of improvements are underway to revamp the inside and clean up the outside. Permits are in process for the construction of new boat docks, but it will be another few months before those are built.
Plans for the site incorporate an outdoor stage for live bands to play and a distillery to produce housemade spirits.
First opened in 2009, Lonerider has taken home more than 50 awards for its beer. It operates two locations in Raleigh and one in Wake Forest and distributes its products in nine states. It is also expanding to Durham, anchoring an incoming retail and entertainment complex.
The Oak Island location will house an 80-seat restaurant offering both sit-down and take-out. The menu boasts crab legs as well as shrimp and clams — either fried or steamed. Its list of starters includes pretzels with beer cheese, mac-and-cheese balls, and popcorn tossed in butter, bacon and garlic. For meals, diners can order salads or pub plates, like a bacon cheeseburger, french dip, fish and chips, or pork chops. Entrees range from $11.95 to $16.95.
“I mean, this is a beach community. We got to put a lot of seafood there,” Vohra said. “We’re gonna keep some of the elements of our Raleigh [Five Points] menu. But we’re going to make sure that most of the menu we curate for Oak Island: a lot of seafood, a lot of steamers, a lot of grilled and fried seafood, a lot of soups. She-crab soup was a big thing there so we want to bring that back.”
Dessert choices include a New York-style cheesecake topped with seasonal fruit compote or pecan pie alongside brown butter ice cream, among other sweets.
On tap, customers can choose from 15 seltzers and craft beers, selling for $6 on draft or in $8 flights. Wine and ciders will be sold by the glass or bottle. Its cocktail menu ranges from $10 to $13, featuring a Southern nog with Lonerider-bourbon-spiked eggnog, a blackberry limeade, a spiced pear mule and a list of other creations. The $9 peanut butter cup shot is chilled Skrewball PB whiskey with Lonerider Choklat liqueur, the taste of which is described as “a big malted milk ball.”
Lonerider will also sell its locally distilled bourbon by the glass or flights for $22. A standout is the sherry cask bourbon, which debuted its spirits line in 2018 as the company tapped into the emerging “brew-stillery” trend.
The brewery will open daily at 11 a.m. and close at 9 p.m. on Sunday, 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and at midnight on Friday and Saturday.
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