WILMINGTON — Anne Bonny’s barge restaurant has vacated its downtown riverside location near Dock and Front Street, waiting for warmer weather to return to the Port City.
Local boat owner Bill Nevill saw the restaurant tugged up the Cape Fear River Monday afternoon.
“At about 3:00 a barge-mounted building with kitchen type roof vents and what looked like a covered eating area was towed past the Cape Fear Marina by a local tug,” Nevill wrote in an email to Port City Daily.
“It’s definitely a bit unusual to have a restaurant that requires boat maintenance on the bottom of it,” Madison Vithalani said.
Vithalani, one of four owners of the floating restaurant, said the boat was towed about a mile-and-a-half to Smith Creek Boatyard on Monday afternoon for routine winter maintenance, including sandblasting the hull, re-painting the exterior, and re-welding certain parts of the boat. They had to wait until the cold winter season to avoid losing business, she said.
Vithalani and the other owners are planning to re-open the weekend of February 15 in time for the Daytona 500 Nascar race.
“We have a decent amount of regulars who come in to watch Nascar,” Vithalani said.
The restaurant will then be opened only on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays; after Saint Patrick’s Day, it will resume its full-week schedule.
The restaurant hosted its “Barge Bon Voyage” party on Sunday, Nov. 25, offering discount shots of liquor and mimosas for those gathered to enjoy one last Sunday afternoon watching NFL football and listening to live music on the river before the barge made its retreat north to Smith Creek.
For downtown resident Audrey Holloman, she understands why the restaurant left for the season.
“It’s sad to see it go but it’s going to be a pretty cold this winter, so it makes sense,” Holloman said.
“It’s kind of like how a teacher gets summer vacation — we get so much volume in the summer, it’s nice to get a break,” Vithalani said. “We get a little winter vacation.”
Mark Darrough can be reached at Mark@localvoicemedia.com